When you’re building your first website it’s very easy to get stuck in Magpie-mode, going after all the shiny new objects. Collecting Plugins here there and everywhere. Adding a new menu here and another widget there. It’s very easy to be too ”creative” and try to do too much with your website at once.
Web Design can seem like a bit of a daunting task, particularly if you’re new to building websites or it’s your first website, but there are a couple of easy mistakes you can avoid.
Think of your website as a salesperson, selling your ”product” to those that venture into your store (or in this case your website) what’s your salesperson like? Are they LOUD, obnoxious and confusing everyone with their sales message? Do your customers find it hard to follow what your salesperson is saying or harder still to find more information when they need it?
Is your salesperson the type of person that listens to people first, understanding the ”problem” and then provides the perfect solution at exactly the right time?
There are not many of us who like salespeople at the best of times, but I guarantee you more people appreciate dealing with the second salesperson than the first.
Your website is the same. If it’s hard to navigate, cluttered or illegible then most people won’t stick around to buy something. You get the same outcome with the first salesperson above.
Below you’ll find seven of the easiest web design mistakes you can make when you’re starting. If you make these mistakes you’ll find people running away from your website rather than to your website.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at Seven Web Design Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make with the Design of Your Website.
One of the easiest mistakes you can make when it comes to web design is poor navigation. If you have a lack of navigation – poorly planned or placed menu’s – then it’s highly likely that your visitors will get frustrated quickly and move on to another site.
Think about it this way, how many times have you visited a website link that pops up in a google search, read the article or post and then clicked on another link within the original post and found yourself reading another article? It happens all the time right? In fact, its actually something you’re meant to do from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and website building point of view, Google Loves it!
So what happens if you have poor navigation on your site in this case? Your visitor clicks on the original article that pops up in their Google search, they then click on another link and are taken to another post on your site. They then discover that there is no way back to the original post or a clear way forward to other content on the same topic and leave.
In this example, the image above looks like it links to the relevant area of interest ie News when you hover over it looks to be a clickable link. It’s not until you click on it that you’re taken back to the exact same image… in a new window… this is not helpful, nor is it going to help your visitors find what they are looking for.
Take some time to plan out your website. Think about the umbrella topic of your website then the sub-topics you’ll address. These sub-topics become your menu’s. Next, create obvious navigation on your site using the most common places to place those menu’s – the header and sidebar of your site.
Your goal is to provide your visitors with a clear ”roadmap” they can use to get around your site.
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Web Design Mistake #2: Illegible Fonts
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While it might look and seem creative when you use different fonts for your website, the reality is that if a visitor to your site can’t read the content they’re looking for they will simply move on to another website, taking their business elsewhere.
Also, think about those people that visit your website on a mobile device or that might be elderly… does your font choice make it easier or more difficult to read your content?
WordPress themes come with fonts that compliment the theme, try to stick with them instead of adding to them.
Also, make sure if you do change or add fonts that they are readable across different devices. Remember, with around 50% of website traffic coming from devices other than desktop computers these days you need to make sure people can read your site on phones, laptops and tablets too.
It’s also important to make sure your font size is not too small and easily readable too. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if no one can read it it’s worthless.
Web Design Mistake #3: Clutter
The next web design mistake you can make has to do with page and post clutter. Jamming the page with content, banners, links, images, sounds and buttons is not going to do you any favours. If you put too much on the page at once you’ll cause your visitor’s sensory overload!
Another example, other than the one above, is If you’ve ever come across one of those sites that has a slideshow style layout and you have to move through the slides to get the information you’ll know what I’m talking about. These sites are usually recipe sites or clickbait you find at the bottom of some news sites, you know the ones right? they have catchy post titles like ”30 photos of real-time travellers” or something like that.
You click on these pages, there’s a slide show to click through and as you click through there are banners that pop up advertising this and that, a popup to join a mailing list. More banners and adverts around the actual slide show, not to mention the adverts that are also embedded in the slide show itself.
It’s too much!! Especially if you just wanted to see and appreciate the photos!
Let’s face it, no one likes spending their time on those pages that have advertising everywhere like that.
Your website can be made up of as many pages and posts as you like. It’s not a ”how much can you cram onto one page” competition or challenge. So take some time to plan out what you’re going to post about and instead of adding everything to every page, tone it down and space out your content. Using a nice simple or elegant theme, in this case, will help immensely!
Make sure you limit the number of advertising banners or spots you have on anyone page and make sure your content is the start of the show… not yet another advert!
If you’re going to have links within your content (which you should) make sure there are only a handful scattered through the entire piece of content rather than 5 or 6 in the first paragraph.
Above all else remember simplicity is the way forward… if you wouldn’t want to read and spend time on your site, why would your visitors?
Web Design Mistake #4: No Contact Information
When you have an online presence it’s easy to think ”I won’t bother putting any physical contact details on my website other than my contact form, people can just use that to contact me” this is a BIG mistake.
Whilst we live in a predominantly digital world where most people prefer to contact you via email or social media it’s still important to offer your visitors a phone number, email address and physical address you operate out of (if you have one) so they have a variety of ways to contact you.
Giving visitors just one or two ways to contact you is a sure-fire way to miss out on business, especially if you’re selling a product or service.
Another thing you DEFINITELY want to avoid is giving extensive rules potential clients need to follow before contacting you… this only turns the client off and makes your site look dodgy.
Give your visitors multiple channels for communication, add social media channels – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to your website as well as an email address, phone number and physical business address. Make it easy for your existing and potential clients to get in touch with you no matter which channel of communication they prefer.
A ”Contact Us” page should not be complex and filled with instructions on how to contact you… ie ”call this monitored number at this time or miss out”
Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you and they will… Simple!
Web Design Mistake #5: Poor Forms
In today’s data privacy driven world its important that you comply with any local privacy or data protection laws. This means if you expect visitors to your site from Europe you comply with GDPR laws and regulations and if you’re in North America your local data protection regulations.
While it’s important to comply with data protection it’s also really important to only ask for the information you absolutely need. What I mean by that is if you only need someone’s name and email address to send them a monthly email newsletter why would you ask them their physical street address and phone number?
If you need your visitors to complete a registration form of some sort, again, only gather the most important information you need rather than ”nice to have” information.
Most form plugins now come with GDPR compliance built into them, it’s just a matter of checking the plugin support page to make sure you’re covered.
When it comes to registration forms limit yourself to only the really important information you need for someone to get access to your site in the case of a membership site or register for your event. Everything else can be gathered at a later date.
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Web Design Mistake #6: Your Background
Another really easy web design mistake you can make is choosing the wrong background. For example, a dark background with dark font colour and dark images isn’t really going to do much for your visitors. Chances are they will move on pretty quickly when they have to strain their eyes to read any of your content.
You might also think its a good idea to have an image as your page or post background… wrong! Think about it. Will the visitor be distracted by the image and will they be able to read the content over an image? In most cases, the answer is no!
In this example, the webmaster has decided to use bright colours that move across the site from left to right.
WARNING: I strongly suggest you avoid this site if you get migraine headaches or are prone to epileptic fits.
Make sure your background is a plain colour that compliments your text colour and images. Keep it simple and make sure you preview your posts before you publish them… if you can’t read the post without struggling you need to change it.
The background of your site plays a fundamental role in making your content easy to read, it might seem like a good idea to have an image or loud colours as your background but if your visitors feel ill every time they visit your site guess what… they just won’t!
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Web Design Mistake #7: Keep it seamless
The last web design mistake I want to cover has to do with the continuity of your website. If your website has a different layout from page to page or a different font that’s used from page to page or maybe you use images in a completely different place on each page, a different colour scheme for each page, guess what’s going to happen to your visitors?
My bet is that they’ll first be distracted by the schizophrenic feel to your entire site and then they’ll quite simply, up and leave.
Creativity does make your site unique, but too much of it and everything becomes an absolute disaster. Keeping everything at its simplest level works best. This means using the same font, colour scheme and layout across your pages and posts.
Making sure that your visitors know what to expect when they move from page to page, post to post is going to keep your visitor’s attention where it needs to be… on your content.
While building your first website can be a daunting task fraught with web design danger, you’re now aware of the seven easy mistakes you can now avoid. Making sure you combat these easily made mistakes will not get you truckloads of traffic, but they will mean that when the traffic does show up, it sticks around long enough to read a post… and that’s a good start!