Websites perform a myriad of different business functions. They make your mark on the virtual high streets. They’re the flagship stores that are open 24/7 waiting for new and returning visitors. And they’re also the shop assistants ready to impart product knowledge.
For these reasons and more, your site needs to look welcoming to its target market. Your homepage needs to succinctly convey your offering while inviting people to spend time elsewhere on the site. Poor design can cause would-be customers to turn on their heels. In this post, we look at website design mistakes and how to give them a wide berth.
Forgetting About Responsive Design
Americans spend 203 minutes of their day on their phones and their behaviour is reflective of a growing global trend. Your website might look great on a desktop or laptop but we are now firmly in the mobile era so if that beautiful site of yours doesn’t translate well to mobile interfaces, you’re jeopardizing a huge chunk of potential conversions and sales.
This is compounded by the fact that Google penalizes sites when they lack responsive design. Google wants to connect its users with what they’re looking for, so if users are bouncing from sites with poor UX, that goal is temporarily thwarted. Consequently, sites that can’t adapt across devices will feature lower on mobile search results. Can we have a moment of silence for all the qualified leads that will go straight into the arms of your responsive competitors?
So what can you do? Use a mobile-first approach when designing web assets. If you use WordPress, select responsive themes or manually transform your current theme to a responsive one.
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again. Keep it simple. Too much customization slows down your site which makes for a bad UX. And having too many different elements with not enough white or empty space can overwhelm users and lead to inaction.
There is an art to simplicity. A clean interface doesn’t have to mean a boring one that lacks creativity. Think of a luxury Australian brand like Aesop. The physical stores are the epitome of minimalist elegance. The website takes on that same aesthetic. There’s a neutral palette and a symmetry that’s pleasing to the eye. It’s not seen as plain. Quite the opposite. The homepage is easy to skim and four main categories reveal subcategories when you click on them. Best of all, it’s lightning fast.
Clutter also applies to typefaces. Avoid using too many different and conflicting fonts and colours unless quirkiness is part of your brand’s personality. Two or three clear, legible San Serif fonts should suffice to differentiate headings.
Great content goes hand in hand with great design. If you have an amazing UI and impressive graphics but your copy fails to engage visitors, your design will be for naught. Your guiding of eyes will be pointless because all these eyes will see content that lacks readability and reflects poorly on the brand.
So design your words carefully. Craft compelling copy that moves visitors to act. Never underestimate the power of good copy to sway those on the fence. Paint a picture on your money pages, with convincing product descriptions for example, and watch people slide lower down your marketing funnel.
You can’t let visitors leave without getting them to share their details, either through incentives or your copywriting prowess. But don’t employ so many calls to action (CTAs) that visitors feel besieged. You’d also do well to cut out the pop-ups – Google isn’t keen on them and neither are your visitors.
Hide and Seek
Essential information should be easy to find. Some of it should go above the fold. Many websites make the cardinal error of tucking key facts in random parts of their sites. Visitors shouldn’t have to feel like they’re playing ‘Where’s Wally?’ to have their basic questions answered.
There should be clearly labeled links to important pages. It’s become standard to include links to FAQs, contact forms, and shipping and return policies on the homepage, so diverging from this format can confuse visitors. In addition, if your site is labyrinthine, don’t let users get lost. Include a search bar in your header and consider a search plugin. Optimize navigation by listing product or post categories. These are simple ways to help the customer journey along and improve your bottom line.
Visitor arrives. You win a battle. Visitor clicks on a money page and gets a 404 Page Not Found error. You lose the war. Make sure that all the work you put into a website isn’t negated by broken plugins and bugs. Download a bug reporting tool so you can take swift action if any problems occur.
Distracting Social Icons
Social media is supposed to bring people to your website. If someone has landed on your website without social media, it doesn’t make any sense to lure them back off again with distracting supplementary content. Don’t get rid of your social buttons altogether – they’re great for sharing content and reinforcing your brand. Just place the buttons mindfully at the bottom of your home page rather than at the top.
Sometimes it’s the subtleties that can trip a company up. That’s definitely the case when it comes to photos. Steer clear of pictures that don’t look polished – your images should be high definition and they should be presented consistently. Size your photos so that they don’t look stretched out and lose clarity, and consider compressing your image files so your pages load faster.
Avoid stock photos if you can – they make visitors question your authenticity and reliability. Visitors can sense when it’s amateur hour and that perception doesn’t inspire confidence in a business.
It’s possible to achieve a professional aesthetic without hiring a costly photographer. Your mobile phone can take pics that cut the mustard – you just have to familiarise yourself with manual settings and some basic editing techniques.