A website is one of the most important and powerful marketing tools available to a business today. And for new customers, first impressions are everything.
But simply “having a website” won’t cut it for most people browsing online. Just ask the 75% of consumers who believe a company’s credibility rests on how appealing their website design is. Tough crowd!
As an Australian marketing and web design agency, we often meet new clients who represent businesses that have settled for a basic website, with minimal content and poor graphic design elements. This is a costly mistake! And we’d like to explain exactly why.
Before building a new website (or undergoing a redesign of your existing website), ask yourself a few fundamental questions:
- What is the goal of my website?
- Who are my target customers or ideal clients?
- How will I drive traffic to my website?
- Who is going to update my website, and how often?
- How much will website maintenance and updates cost?
If you already have an existing website – great stuff. Any common web design mistakes you are unknowingly committing right now can probably be corrected with some thought and future effort. Take note of these 7 mistakes we’re about to reveal to you, and prioritise which ones you need to work on, as there’s the possibility of making a noticeable difference to your bottom line.
1. Lack of Clear Call to Action
Missing a call to action is probably one of the biggest small business website mistakes we see regularly. There is even a chance right now that you don’t know what a call to action (CTA) is exactly. No worries, let’s clear that right up –
What is a Call to Action?
A call to action is a phrase that’s used to focus visitors on what their next step is. It is a prompt written with a persuasive command attached to a link, button or included in a line of text.
The best websites consider how the user experiences each page, and so each page proactively tells the viewer the what, where, and how when they are interacting with pages on a website.
A clear CTA suggests to the audience:
- What to do
- Where to go
- How to feel
Check your existing page CTAs. They should ideally feature content that describes the value of your products or services, followed by a compelling phrase that prompts an action. A conversion. Aim to keep call to actions simple and succinct, but don’t be afraid to tell users exactly what to do! Trust, they like it that way.
(Website pages with no call to action are worth crying about)
2. No Analytics to Measure Performance
Another hefty web design mistake to steer clear of is missing out on valuable insights by not looking at important website data. This is kind of like trying to set up a family picnic three months down the track without a weather forecast.
Every company wants to know how to build a good website, but how can a “good” website be defined? How can a company measure how successful its website is so they can make it even better?
And on the other hand, when a website is not working as expected (failing to attract leads) – how can you know what’s wrong?
The best way to manage your website’s progress is to add Google Analytics to your website. Google Analytics is a powerful data-analysis program installed on over 10 million websites around the world. Or 10 million and 1 if you pull your finger out!
Top reasons to use Google Analytics:
- It’s 100% free
- Discover how people find your website
- See what people do on your website
- Find out what the most popular pages on your website are
- Track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts (and see what happens when you do something different)
(Those cookies are a reward for reviewing his GA stats)
3. Unclear Brand Messaging
Every website has its own style of messaging that reflects the business as a whole. The goal is to make your messaging friendly, engaging, succinct and consistent. Scattered, unclear messaging that jumps around in tone and style on different pages is off-putting for your customer’s experience. It also negatively impacts trust and often fails to drive the user to your Call to Action as they’re unengaged, or have lost interest. Obviously, you don’t want that to happen!
Your brand messaging can include (but is not limited to):
- The slogan of your brand to accompany its logo
- The tone of voice used across your entire website
- Your choice of words on your Homepage
- The story of your company on your About page
- The way you reply to new leads through your website
- Your online contact form language and complexity
- Order order confirmation page that appears for customers
- The frequency of posts, articles or emails you publish
And that’s just the start of where your website messaging lives and breeds. The language you choose to use and the images you select to represent your business give it a personality, even if you’re not fully aware of it. Our biggest tip in this area is to design a website that speaks TO your customers and their world, rather than simply talking about yourself for 10 pages. Use brand messaging that shows an interest in solving a problem, be approachable and show expertise in your field (add value for your customer rather than giving everything away).
As a business owner, manager or marketer, you have total control over most of your messaging – but are you actively using it? The answer may be as simple as reviewing your existing content with a professional copywriter or marketing agency and seeing what pages need improvement.
(We’ve 100% won this scrabble game)
4. Weak Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Great website design is important to any business trying to find success online, but if a website can’t easily be found in search engines, very few people will have access to your services. SEO aims to give your site more visibility, and in turn more customers.
Old school SEO used to be a mishmash of crowbarred keywords, thin content, and oodles of haphazard backlinks (whether credible or not). Anyone making those web design mistakes today can get penalised and lose serious site authority.
Search engine algorithms have evolved to be a lot more intuitive. They value sites with much more…weight to them. Search optimisation is more than a simple, one-off exercise. It requires multiple strategies, tactics, and an ongoing commitment to climb that rankings “mountain”. However, during building stages of a website, there are several steps to creating a site viewed favourably by Google. If your website is already built and live, some SEO maintenance is probably required.
Good SEO is a bit like building a house: the foundations matter. When creating a website, key SEO considerations include:
- Create pages that target the keywords you wish to rank for
- Use search friendly url structures
This is good: www.oddballmarketing.com/resources/common-website-mistakes
This is not good: www.oddballmarketing.com/2020/06/18/post-2918556
- Use unique Meta Data on each page (behind-the-scenes content that talks to search engines and customers directly)
- Submit XML sitemap to Google Search Console
- Create a blog to allow for regular content updates (if you can commit the time and knowledge)
5. Tricky to Find Contact Info
Your business should be everybody’s business! Customers do not want to dig deep or visit several different pages to find out how to get in touch with you. Most will give up and move on to your competitor.
Provide your customers with as many different ways to contact you as possible – phone, form submission, email, chat message or via your social media channels.
Every business website should have the following:
- Phone number in the header/top bar
- ‘Contact Us’ page link in the main navigation
- Contact details in your website footer
(Great example of how easy it is to contact this business from their website)
6. Slow Load Time
Have you ever visited a website that takes aaaaaaaaaaaaages to load that you start planning what to have for dinner? Yep. This creates a terrible first impression of your business.
If your website loads slowly, you will most certainly lose visitors. By slow, we mean anything that takes more than 3 seconds to load!
According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. You need to get this one right.
Website visitors tend to care more about speed than all the bells and whistles you may want to add to your website – such as video, heaps of cool images and parallax scrolling. Additionally, page loading time is becoming an even more important factor when it comes to search engine rankings.
For a new website design, ensure having a fast load time is at the top of your priority list when you provide requirements to your web designer or marketing agency.
Got an existing website? Perform a website speed test online for free to see where you stand.
(Waiting for pages to load is excruciating…don’t make your customers feel this way.)
7. Poor Mobile Site Experience (an unoptimised website)
A customer’s impression of your website and its design hangs on what it looks like from their mobile device. If your site looks trite on a smartphone, you’re going to struggle to convert or keep those customers engaged.
If your site currently does not have a mobile-friendly user experience, consider it an absolute priority to sort this out. You can give our friendly team a bell to explain how best to do this, and we can work out a redesign that works for you.
40% of users go to a competitor’s website after a poor mobile experience.
Users are always looking for a smooth online experience, and they will continue to look for the best one until it suits them. These customers are impatient, often distracted and in search of the promise of an easy solution. If your website design looks bad on a mobile device, your competitors may have one up on you.
57% of users say they will not recommend a business with a badly designed mobile site.
With the power of reviews and referrals fuelling a consumer’s decision-making, you want to constantly be gathering new, positive recommendations. Creating a lasting impression to build loyal customers is strongly linked to creating with a mobile-friendly customer experience.
67% of users say they are more likely to buy a product from a mobile-friendly site.
Prioritise responsive web design for mobile, as this not only creates an optimal experience for your future customers, but it’s also Google-approved for SEO boosting!
(Wireframe examples of user-friendly website layouts)
How to Avoid a Badly Designed Website
Bring in more business with these straightforward solutions that repair some of the biggest website mistakes business owners can make, often unwittingly.
Follow these best practices when designing a new website:
- Use clear and concise call to actions
- Install and measure performance using Google Analytics
- Offer clear messaging to the right audience
- Lay good SEO foundations
- Make it easy for users to contact you
- Optimise page load times to less than 3 seconds to keep visitors engaged
- Ensure your website has a mobile-friendly experience
With all these things to juggle as a business owner, attempting to design your own website may not be the most effective use of your time…
Consider employing the services of a professional web designer. A good web designer will help ensure your website generates leads for your business, by providing a lovely, stress-free user experience for your audience. And more importantly, they will help you to avoid all the costly website design mistakes we’ve explored!