Avoiding Web Design Mistakes: Three Easy Considerations to Make your Website the Envy of your Competitors

It’s undeniable that a website is essential to running a business in today’s world. Regardless of what your business is, customers expect to find and learn about your business online. And, perhaps more importantly, they expect your online presence to be on trend and easy to find and navigate. Think about how you feel when trying to slog through what appears to be a sloppily-constructed, ugly, and outdated website. You’re frustrated and no longer care what the product is—you want out of there and fast.

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Avoiding Web Design Mistakes: Three Easy Considerations to Make your Website the Envy of your Competitors

It’s undeniable that a website is essential to running a business in today’s world. Regardless of what your business is, customers expect to find and learn about your business online. And, perhaps more importantly, they expect your online presence to be on trend and easy to find and navigate. Think about how you feel when trying to slog through what appears to be a sloppily-constructed, ugly, and outdated website. You’re frustrated and no longer care what the product is—you want out of there and fast.

Luckily, you can avoid having potential customers feel the same way about your site by paying attention to three key components of web design:

Design Aspects

Branding and Marketing

Technical Must-Haves

Design Aspects

Design should be your best friend when it comes to creating an online presence and building your website.

“Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives, whether or not we’re aware of it.”

—Alice Rawsthrom, Hello World: Where Design Meets Life

So, how do you use this to your benefit? Easy! Assess your website by seeing if you’ve met these five important design-related aspects:

1.  Easy and intuitive customer journey

Your customer’s journey through your website needs to be easy and intuitive. You can optimize their experience by knowing who your customer is and tailoring your website to them using smart design elements. You should know what your customers seek from your site and help them get there quickly.

2.  Great use of color and font

Your website needs to incorporate modern color schemes and font styles. Consider colors that are pleasing to the eye, provide good contrast, and look professional: rich blues, dark greys, blue-greens, black, and white. Choose colors that complement each other and give a sense of harmony to your site. Also, make sure your brand jives with your chosen colors and fonts. Consulting a simple color wheel can make a huge difference.

Additionally, your font choice should be a nice clean sans serif font that is easy on the eye and demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to consider a font that isn’t outdated (like Times New Roman) or childish (like Comic Sans). Lastly, it should be set to a nice, large size, such as 41 px for headers and 18 px for body.

3.  Appropriate amount of white space

Although it may feel contradictory, your site needs an appropriate amount of white space  so that you don’t overwhelm your customers. White space is the negative space between different elements on your website, such as images, columns, etc. When used effectively, it can help provide a simple, effective look to your website that both puts your customers at ease and makes your website look modern and clean. It also improves readability, increases engagement, and helps satisfies other technical web design considerations discussed below, such as easier readability and scannability.

4.  Original photos and images

Are you using stock photos on your site? If you answered yes to this question, you need to remove those images now. Stock photos tell your customers nothing about YOU and your product. Instead of using stock photos, find a local photographer to capture your product. The benefits are three-fold: (1) you’re supporting local; (2) you will have authentic photos to use that were created with your best interest in mind; and, (3) you will own a pile of images that you can use indefinitely. It’s better to go without images at all then to use stock photos.

5.  Accessible for everyone

Your website must be created with accessibility in mind, which means your site must be accessible to everyone, no matter their abilities. It should follow the first three points provided above, and be scannable by screen readers with material organized in a manner that makes it easy to navigate without having to scroll left, right, up, and down forever.

Branding and Marketing Basics

Branding is your business’ identity and helps your customers immediately recognize you. It also serves to demonstrate your company values and product to your customers, employees, and other businesses.

“Branding is the secret weapon of most companies.”

—Amanda Wright, The Branding Journal

Does your website have these five important points about to effectively market your product and brand to customers?

1.  Clearly defined product on the homepage

If your product isn’t clearly defined on your homepage, then you better find a place for it and fast! Your customers want to know what you’re selling and how it differs from what the next guy is selling. This information must be on the homepage with a headline that is above the fold—so your customers can locate this information fast and immediately. If you’re unsure how best to write your homepage headline, check out these nine steps.

2.  Appropriate tone

Ask yourself if the tone used on your site sounds like a salesperson. If your answer is “yes” or “maybe,” then you’ve got some changes to make! Nobody wants to be given the hard sell, especially when they are browsing a website and getting to know your product! Dial it down a bit and approach them how you would like to be approached: in a friendly, accessible, and knowledgeable manner. Make sure you’re consistent in using this tone and don’t repeat yourself over and over again throughout the site.

3.  Pricing information

Just as important as telling your customers what your product is, you must let them know how much it costs. Pricing should be easy to find within your site and the language used to explain it must be written in a straightforward manner. Customers do not want to feel like they’ve been had because your site was not clear about pricing.

4.  Call to action (CTA)

A Call to Action (CTA) is any device that is designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. It is a must-have for your website and helps you promote your brand and product. The most effective CTAs allow your customers to quickly and easily understand the benefits of subscribing to your website.

5.  Return on your Investment (ROI) Tracking and use of Google Analytics

Return on Investment (ROI) is an integral part of running any business because it’s versatile, simple, and effective at gauging profitability. As such, you should be using your online presence and website to monitor it and see exactly how each of your online marketing campaigns are working out. This can be done by using Google Analytics, which helps you track how a customer came across your site, how long they stayed, and what brought them there to begin with. There are many reasons why Google Analytics should be used, and they all benefit you.

Technical Must-Haves

Now that you’ve devoted a considerable amount of time to the design and branding of your website, you have to make sure it runs smoothly and incorporates all the necessary features that benefit you and your customers. You could have the prettiest and cleanest looking site in the world, but your customers won’t care if it is jammed up with pop-ups, runs slowly, and is generally bogged down with low-grade and old tech.

“A company has a responsibility to ensure that its online presence always works well for users, always furthers the company’s objectives, and always has adequate security against hackers.”

—Rob Carey, National Center for the Middle Market

To make sure you aren’t making any mistakes on the technical aspects of web design, by considering the following seven technical must-haves:

Speed

If you click on your website and it is slow to load, then you either have way too much stuff on it or are not on a cloud distribution network (CDN). You should be doing everything in your power to make sure that your site runs smoothly because your customers are under no obligation to wait patiently for everything to load, and they will quickly click away if they feel that the site is too slow—which is anything over three seconds.

2.  Contact information and chat options

Your site must have Contact Information and Chat options! Customers do not want to use a form to reach out to you. Including a chat feature demonstrates that you care about both helping your customer and what their opinions are of your product. Consider using something like INTERCOM to help acquire, engage, and support your customers.

3.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All major search engines have primary results that are listed and ranked according to relevance. To use this to your benefit, your website should optimize search engines to increase the flow of traffic to your website. This is done by including meta tags within your site that make it easier for search engines to determine what your website content is. The best part? It costs you nothing!

4.  Responsiveness

This seems like a no-brainer, but your website must render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes, so that no matter what device your customer is using, they can access your site with ease. Think of your content like water:

5.  Current Copyright

Copyright protects your rights as the owner of your website. For that reason alone, you should always make sure to have an up-to-date notice of copyright on every page of your website. Additionally, copyright also demonstrates that your site is current and that you take care to maintain it.

6.  Few pop-ups

Pop-ups are great for sharing additional information with your customers. However, pop ups are notoriously disruptive and can ruin your customer’s experience. Make sure if you use pop ups, you do so sparingly.

7.  Appropriate and Well-placed social media icons

It’s a well-established fact that in today’s world social media is a powerful marketing tool. According to The Wall Street Journal, anywhere from 5 to 40 percent of Tweets come from Twitter buttons on websites. Choose three or four of the social media sites that are most appropriate for your product, place them in an easy to find location (such as floating bars on the side of the screen, etc.), and make sure you keep your social media sites up to date.

How did you do?

Now that you’ve gone through the three main considerations and their relevant points and must-haves, what’s your plan for moving forward? Contact Activator Studios for help with any aspect listed above!