6 Common Website Mistakes (and how to fix them)
Today I want to talk to you about the 6 common website mistakes that I see people making all the time when it comes to their business websites. No one is talking about them, but these particular mistakes are both very prevalent (I see people making them all the time) and also very easy to fix.
Website Mistake #1
The first mistake that I see people making is thinking their website copy is separate from the design (or that they can do the copy later). Why is this one of the biggest website mistakes you can make? Because copywriting is really part of the foundation. You can't design a website without the copy (you can try to do it with filler text but you won't know what the connotation of that content is or how to highlight it visually).
Spend 90% of your time on the research, planning, and copywriting for your website. Once you’ve got the copy in place (and it feels right), the design part becomes nearly effortless. It’s really about showcasing your brand message and voice and encouraging site visitors to take action.
Website Mistake #2
The second mistake that I see people making is looking for a beautiful theme to purchase and then trying to make their content fit into that theme. Again, that goes into the whole design process where you start with the words (the copy) and then design around those to highlight your message and get your users to flow toward taking action.
But if you start in the reverse order, picking your design and then trying to fit your words into it, it's never going to be as impactful and it's never going to be as uniquely you. It will be like you're trying to mold your brand message to fit a certain pretty box, when what we really want to do is the opposite of that.
Get clear on what your website is about. Know your brand and what types of content you want to share. Know your ideal client and what types of resources they’re looking for. Then, when you’re clear on your brand message and tone, you can start to think about expressing that visually.
Consider what typefaces will best showcase your brand and resonate with your ideal client. Make sure that they’re easy to read. You want to simplify everything for your website visitors, so make sure that your design choices are intentional and not based solely on aesthetics.
Website Mistake #3
One of the most common website mistakes that I see is people ignoring the layout and flow of the website. I would say that the layout is the most frequently overlooked aspect of the whole design process. It's just not something that people think about, but it IS one of the most important aspects of the user experience.
There are a few things that I like people to look at when they are considering the layout of their website and how they want the page to flow:
- The call to action. What's the focus of the page in general? What is the primary action that you’re trying to get users to take?
- Hierarchy. Creating a hierarchy happens both with your visuals and with your typography so that you're moving the user through the page and toward that call-to-action.
- Chunking. That means breaking your content into easy-to-read chunks of 2 to 3 lines per paragraph with plenty of spacing in between paragraphs. Another concept of chunking is to group visual elements together in a way that creates a hierarchy. For example, if you have three elements of the same muted color and a fourth element of a brighter color, the one that's the brighter color is going to “pop” more when you put them together than when you put it by itself.
- White space. This is the last and most important thing when it comes to layout. By white space, I mean the spacing between and around elements on a page. So have plenty of padding between the tops and bottoms of rows or in between columns. In a sense, it's like giving breathing room to your content and it's also giving your users space to digest and assimilate what they’ve just read before they move on.
Website Mistake #4
The fourth mistake that I see is directionless design choices (ie. not designing a page for an intended result). So this mistake goes back to understanding what the primary intention of the page is and how you want to express your brand, visually.
Ask yourself this, “What is that one action that I really want users to take when they visit this page?”. Do you want them to sign up for your email list? Do you want them to click on your Services page? Do you want them to fill out your contact form to schedule a consult call? Also, how do you want your brand to be perceived? And, are your graphics consistent with your messaging?
Website Mistake #5
The fifth mistake is crowdsourcing design feedback in Facebook groups. I see this most often with logo designs, but there are several reasons you shouldn’t do this.
- People in Facebook groups probably like you and don’t want to hurt your feelings
- Conversely, some people might tear down your designs based on their own opinions
- They have no context for your design — not knowing much about your brand or your objectives
- They probably aren’t in your target audience.
The obvious solution is to stop crowdsourcing feedback from sources other than people that are in your target audience. However, if you do want to use Facebook groups for design opinions there are a few things that you can do to make sure you get feedback that is useful:
- Provide context — give a short summary of your brand (who you are, what you do, who you serve, and how you’re different)
- Tell them the purpose and placement of this design (e.g. this will go on my homepage with the intention of getting visitors to click it and go to my services page)
- Ask them to step into the role of your ideal client, because they might not be that person but they can likely empathize with him or her if you give them enough context.
Website Mistake #6
And the last mistake is not testing your website. As creative entrepreneurs, we often get caught up in our own little bubble and lose sight of the wood for the trees. It’s all too easy to assume that our designs are clear and effective. But assuming isn’t going to move your business toward its objectives. You’ve got to test it.
Test your website!
- Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics (or something comparable) set up so that you can see what pages people are loving and what ones are causing them to bounce.
- Consider adding a heat mapping tool like Inspectlet or Hotjar so that you can see the “hot spots” of your pages where people are most likely to click (or not to see at all).
- And finally, my favorite tool of all is UsabilityHub, where you can upload your page designs and get super granular with your tests (they have A/B tests, 5-second tests, and question-and-answer tests).
Now it’s your turn.
Are you guilty of making one of these 6 common website mistakes? If so, how are you going to fix it? Let me know in the comments below!