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Common Website Design Mistakes that Business Owners Can Avoid

February 2 2013

It is not often that I discuss web design mistakes that business owners should avoid at all costs as I do tend to focus on all the ‘ must do’ things that business owners need to concentrate on for a successful web outcome; such as SEO, copywriting and intuitive design, where most of your focus should be. However, web page design plays an enormous part in your sites capability of converting site visits to sales or inquiries as well as affecting the way users interact with the site. Overall, web design can both attract users as well as turn them off. To be very honest with you, design plays a huge part with our website. I guess because we are in fact a web design studio, people coming to our site expect a higher than normal standard than they are used to. Saying that, this does not have to be the case. Just because you might not be a design studio does not mean that you cannot have a website that is not visually very creative. People need to have a great web experience if they are going to buy from you and engage with your website. Following are the most common website design mistakes and how to avoid them.

a) Web design need not be overly complicated.

A little bit of planning, strategy, forward thinking, will give your site the edge it needs to convert the user into a customer. If you want to stay ahead of your competition you will need to pay close attention to the site during the initial design phase and work very closely with your web/graphic design team. Even when the site is completed and as time moves on, you will need to be constantly looking at the site for ways of improving it’s look, site conversion rate and as new technologies become available, any new add-ons that will be beneficial to it’s performance. One of the most common web mistakes is to have a set and forget approach.

Many business owners will have a site designed but will never look at making amends or upgrades for many years. They tend to ignore that fact that their site is a powerful marketing tool and prefer to focus their energies on other more traditional marketing streams that they are used to such as print and radio. It is not because they do not want to work on their site, but it just that business owners are not willing to invest the time and money necessary to make their website an online success. In many circumstances, they are afraid of emerging technologies and are fearful of the costs involved with the implementation of these platforms, which is a grave mistake. Often the case, these new site amends and additions are very easy to do and can be a very cost effective way of getting your brand to market.

b) Going with the wrong design team.

This is a huge area and I am often approached by companies and businesses who have gone down this path and are looking for us to help them out. Basically, what has happened is that they have:
– used a friend of a friend who just bought a Mac, who is now overseas and can not be contacted.
– gone with a company that can design them a website for $399 and the site looks nothing like they thought it would.
– tried to do it themselves because they read about it online and thought that it would be real easy to do.
– saw somewhere that if they downloaded a free template then that is all that was required. A big mistake for those businesses that want to use their website as a sales tool

I have heard and seen all of the above and can only say that to avoid these common web design mistakes is simple and easy. All you need to do is call a company like Hopping Mad Designs as we can take care of everything. We are able to help you avoid all those design traps and produce a site for you that you can be sure will work.

c) As designers we are trained professionals and know what’s best for your business.

We do this all the time and we figure that we have a better idea of what will work for your business online than you might have. So a big mistake is when you tell us about the exact design direction that you would like us to go in. Ideally, you should be able to let go and allow us, the web experts the creative freedom to come up with designs that we feel are more in line with your business and target audience. By restricting us and confining our design talents you re not doing yourselves any favours. Whats best, is for you to come in for an initial discussion about your business, and then leave us to do our job. More often that not, most clients we design for are very impressed by what we can come up with. Remember, you are paying us for this and its best to give us the brief and then leave us to what we do best; and that is design! Sure you can let us know about color likes/dislikes, typography preferences, some sites you have seen in the past that you think are nice, but that should be the level of your involvement during the initial design stages.

d) Don’t expect a website that will be designed purely on what you think is good and what it should look like.

If you are a business owner or have an ecommerce site you need a web presence that is functional and will sell to the consumers at large. Unless you are a artist, the site is NOT about you or your portfolio of work. It is about what the end user, that is the consumer, expects to see of you and the information they want to get off the site. Your website needs to clearly convey your businesses story very quickly, and if it doesn’t users will exit your page. This should not be about ego or all about you. A very common mistake is to forget about this and ignore what is important and that is the actual product or service provided.

e) A HUGE area of neglect is web promotion.

People come to us and get their site designed and expect the sales to start streaming in through the front door. Well this is not going to happen and you will find that the uphill road to online success littered with businesses who have gone bust because they are unwilling to part with marketing dollars to get their site ranked on the search engines. I am always amazed when clients come in and tell me that they have just invested a huge amount of money in a new piece of machinery and roll their eyes when I tell them the cost of online marketing. They have bought the equipment and want the new website to showcase it but are unwilling to pay so that the website gets traffic. Websites need promotion and the best way of doing this is through SEO – make sure you speak to us about how we can implement a SEO campaign to push your web rankings on Google much higher.

f) Responsive web design – Mobile Friendly Website

Is your website viewable on all screen sizes? Is it responsive as thi9s will have a massive impacy on the user experince and eventually if they end up buying from you. A big mistake for many companies is to ignore this and not cater to the mobile market.

 

Web Design Psychology: what the public expects to see.
The internet is so crowded and with the public are becoming more and more overwhelmed with information it is a good idea to know what they want to see and the psychology behind this before you go to that first meeting with your designer.

It is probably wise to get an idea about how colours and what are going to be the best for your audience. For example, if you are a law firm, bright pinks and oranges are not going to work. Conversely, if you are an art gallery you may like to think about brighter colours. The same can also apply to the use of typography. You should know how different fonts can elicit varying emotions in people and trigger buying decisions. Strong use of colour combined with large font size are more likely to appear on ecommerce site, whilst softer, more subtle tones with, lower case fonts are used within the corporate world.

Too many fingers in the pie
I have been at meetings throughout my time and seen a design by committee approach. This is a recipe for disaster as each person brings their own bit of advice and opinion to the design table. Even worse, I have seen company bosses bring a newly hired young gun to web briefing meeting, who, keen to make an impression, will stamp their thoughts on what the site should look like. Just because they have thousands of friends on Facebook and are on Twitter all the time, does not mean they know what they are talking about when it comes to web design. Leave them back at the office and DO NOT involve them at all during the design phase.
The project should be headed up by one person, who will be the point of contact. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians will lead to the site looking very mismatched and off brief. On top of this the site will end up costing you more, with budget blow outs due to all the design iterations, meetings and changes.

Analysis Paralysis.
This is a common mistake when a person is afraid to commit to making a design decision. They need to get the advice of friends, family, work colleagues and even then they are unable to give the green light to go ahead. Websites can take any months to get design approval and in some cases just don’t go ahead. People get scared and do t have sufficient faith and trust in their designer to give the go ahead. Believe it or not, this is a very common web design mistake and happens all the time. What you need to do is take a step back and take that leap of faith that you are in fact doing the right thing and making the correct decision. Stop deliberating and get the website live. Once there you can see what is working and what isn’t and from that point onwards you can make amends to the site that are going to bring in more business. The point here is stop thinking about it and just do it. What ever happens to your website, can be fixed, amended or updated. Over analysis of the site will result in delays, giving your competitors the time needed to secure more clients.