It is estimated that over 16 million websites come up every month. On the other hand, a baby is born every 8 seconds. That is about 324,000 babies born in one month. You see where I’m going with this?
A website is all about being able to reach out to the customer. It’s about how much you stretch your hand to get one baby to visit your website more than 50 times in that single month to keep the numbers balanced. So how do you do this? Website design!
There is no overrating how much this counts towards the success of your website. In fact, this is your website. If the web design is poor then the website is poor.
This multi-billion dollar industry has centred itself in-between the small business premises and the World Wide Web. Complete liaison is therefore required if at all you are to make it on the internet.
So much emphasis has been put on what is supposed to be done to make this relationship work that what you are NOT supposed to do has a relatively meagre mentioning. Arranged in two broad categories, below are the top mistakes small and middle-sized business owners have been making, and will probably continue making, based on human nature.
This refers to the “look” on your website. What do you see when you visit your website? Most importantly, what does the visitor – a prospective customer – see when he/she is on your website? Observe the 4 seconds rule. The visitor should be able to tell what your business is about in 4 seconds. And that is what appearance is all about, keeping in mind other factors such as beauty and ease to read.
1. Poor Contrast
With poor contrast comes poor readability, and ultimately, lack of communication. It’s so obvious. It’s the whole point. Think of it like stopping a prospect on the street then whispering about what you do. Not many will laugh at you. They will just be frustrated.
So why have a website if you can’t communicate clearly? Focus on the colours and the transparency of the text. Make sure the pages are bright enough to enhance reading, but not so bright that the readers will worry about their eyesight. Also, ensure that the text is not blurred. Blurred text, among other things, makes you look like a rookie. You sure want to be an expert to your prospects.
2. Poor or No Optimization for Mobile
You can’t turn a blind eye to the mobile – at least not in the 21st Century. Most people access the internet using their mobile devices. In fact, studies have revealed that up to 80% of internet users use smartphones. 47% use tablets. This situation is not changing any time soon, so you better get used to it.
However, for such an important aspect, it will be good news to know that mobile optimization is not an expensive or unmanageable operation. There are web developers out there who have the tools and know-how to make sure your website is accessible from any device, be it mobile or otherwise. There is really no excuse.
3. Too Many Ads and Pop-Ups
Ads and pop-ups are okay and almost necessary for your websites. However, too many of these are like kids nagging a customer at your shop. They are all screaming “see me!” This is not good; not when you are in the middle of something like trying to sell.
You most probably cannot tell how much customers can tolerate a certain number of these ads and pop-ups, but common sense will tell you when you have hit or neared the too-many mark. Have a manageable number of ads and control how they appear. Always strive to make them advertisements, not some nagging material.
4. Insignificant Graphics
Maybe having a lot of graphics and flash content on your website sounds like a lot of fun to you, but the customer is not pleased with that. It also leads to slowing down the website.
For mobile, make sure the images you use are well optimized for these devices. Flash content should also be relevant and tasteful. Customers and potential customers are turned off by irrelevance.
5. Poor Font
The size and type of font is probably one of the most under-stressed aspects of a website. These two have a big role to play when it comes to evoking reader emotions. For instance, fonts like Calibri and Arial (San-serif fonts) do not appear as formal as fonts like Times New Roman (Serif fonts).
The font size is equally important. Fonts less than 12pt have been regarded as too small to read comfortably. It’s no wonder that many websites are considering 20pt and above.
However, don’t worry yourself. As long as you have an expert by your side, you will end up with a perfect or almost perfect font size and type.
Accessibility and Content:
This is how easily a reader can navigate from the Home page to the About Us page and eventually (or hopefully) to the Contact Us page. It’s also about how visible you are to the search engines and how first your pages load and if they load at all.
6. Insufficient Focus and Implementation of SEO
SEO must sound like old gossip to you, but how much attention have you been paying to it? As you design your website, it is important to have SEO in mind, right from the start. A website that looks great but cannot be found is as good as dead. No one will listen to you if you don’t talk loud enough to capture their attention. So SEO is inevitable.
7. Broken Links
404 error – how much does it anger you to see that message? Well, for most people, it is an insult one cannot do much about, but not your prospective customer. He/she will definitely do something when they see that: they will never visit or think about your website again.
To avoid pissing people off with broken links and servers that take forever, ensure you do away with all broken links before someone finds them. Another important measure to take is to add tabs like “Contact Webmaster” so that visitors can easily reach out to you whenever they encounter a broken link. They are likely to be less pissed this way.
8. Outdated Content
No one wants old news. People want to know what you are doing when they need you. It shows them that you are capable of providing new-age services.
A visitor who comes to your website for the first time and finds that the latest article was posted in January 2014 may be led to believe that your website is not active or has been abandoned. You don’t have the chance to explain that it’s still active.
Some websites tend to avoid content dating because of this risk. But the most important thing is to regularly review and update your website.
9. Unfriendly Navigation Structure
Visitors want to be guided all the way, not find their way through your website. Once you make them do the hard work, you lose them.
Many small business owners are losing their potential clients to their competition because they don’t have efficient page navigation structures.
Your website is like a house with many rooms. Leave the doors to each room ajar to ensure the visitor can easily access each of them, including those where you have stored “goodies”. Locking these rooms denies access to the visitor.
10. No Contact Information and/or Calls-to-Action
Why did we come all the way? If your main goal is not to make a sale, sorry but you have been reading the wrong thing. If you have the ultimate goal of selling, then you better include your contact information.
But before that comes the CTA. Make it good enough to make the reader actually take that action. Getting people to read your website and bookmark it is good. Selling something to them is better.
As you design your website, it is important to note that it is never about you when it comes to your business or your website. It’s always been about the customer – that shopper who visits after being referred to by a friend or after a search on the internet. Therefore, strive to make sure that you make it as accessible to the user as possible. Also, if your business does not solve any of the customer’s problems, please do something else.
Most of the time you will get what you put in, from the amount of money to the experience and professionalism you are ready to pay for right to the result you get one week, three months, one and a half years after you put up your website. Don’t be in a rush to put up a website, not until you have a perfect plan and resources to afford what’s best for your business.