For the past 11 years, I’ve been designing websites for small businesses. During that time, I have had all-sorts of requests from clients regarding the layout and design elements on their website. And while feedback is essential to a successful partnership and design project – it can sometimes make my creative heart sink a little.
This post will explain 7 website design mistakes that you should avoid to ensure your website doesn’t turn your visitors away (& keep your designer happy).
1 // HAVING AN ENORMOUS LOGO
One of the most common change requests I’ve received is ‘can you make my logo bigger’.
I can understand why you’d want to do this. You love your logo and want it to be a big feature on the page. It’s important to you and I totally get it.
But let’s think about your website visitors; is your logo what they really want to see? Probably not. Most visitors to your website will be from search engines or referrals and they don’t know your name or what your logo looks like.
Visitors to your website are typically looking for information about your products, services, where you are located and how you can help them. A nice looking logo is part of your branding and portrays a professional image, but it doesn’t have to be the main feature on the website.
Keeping important information above the fold*, will ensure that your visitors see right away if they plan on sticking around.
*The ‘fold’ is the part of the website that shows before you have to scroll down. If your logo takes up a large part of that space, the useful details are pushed further down.
Take a look at websites like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter – their logos are small in size and take up very little screen space.
2 // USING AWFUL PHOTOS
Everyone knows that we humans are a visual bunch and base our first impressions on what we see within a few seconds of meeting someone or connecting with a business. 7 seconds is the magic number I believe. That’s all the time you have to knock their socks off!
So how do you do that with your website? Using professional photos is a good place to start.
Some common photography fails to avoid:-
- Bad lighting – Dark, indoor shots with little to no daylight are a nightmare and no amount of photoshop is going to fix that as the photos will end up looking grainy.
- Poor quality – Phone camera photos can look great, but nothing beats using an actual camera especially when you plan to use large images on your website.
- Unintentional selfie – You know what I mean? The shadow of yourself or the reflection of you in the window/mirror taking the photo.
I know you are probably thinking – “That’s great, Claire, but I can’t afford a professional photographer”! Here’s the thing you can drastically improve your photography even without a pro.
3 simple tips for improving your photography
- Take photos in natural light (outside, near a window). Daylight is your best friend when it comes to photography but not midday sun that’s too harsh. Early morning or afternoon is ideal lighting conditions.
- Use a high-quality phone camera or even better an actual camera. Cameras are cheaper than you’d expect and will make a massive difference. I promise.
- Consider shooting from a new perspective. Instead of taking a photo at a wide angle, zoom in on the details. Get close up you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your images.
And if you can’t take your own photos, please don’t opt for cheesy stock photos. You can find so many stock images that look great online, my ‘best free photos‘ list has some awesome examples.
Related post : How To Take Better Photos For Your Website
3 // AUTO-PLAYING MUSIC OR VIDEO
Don’t do it. Ever.
There is nothing worse than clicking onto a website to be hit with noise. It is annoying, intrusive and if your speakers are up loud will make your jump out of your seat.
If I visit a website and it auto plays music or video, I immediately hit the back button and vow never to return again. Don’t get me wrong, though; if you do have these on your site at least give me the option to choose to play it.
The same applies to the live chat video popups that start talking automatically. Another way to get me to bounce straight out of your website.
4 // INTRO PAGES
Intro pages are sometimes used on websites and unless they offer something absolutely fantastic and useful, it will annoy more than impress your visitors.
An intro page may be an animation, slideshow or video that you really want all your visitors to see before they get access to the rest of your website. That sounds like a good idea – doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Instead of waiting around people are more likely going to get fed up and leave your website quick smart.
Remember what I said above about what your website visitors want from your website? Information. And they want it instantly. Giving them an extra layer of stuff to get to that is going to frustrate them.
5 // TERRIBLE GRAMMAR AND SPELLING
What do you think when you visit a website and find lots of spelling errors? It makes me think that the writer was in a rush and didn’t feel the need to check the content they are using to promote their business.
But wait, not everyone is a great writer or grammar wizard. I’m not saying you need to take a writing course and a few errors being overlooked is not the end of the world. However, having a quick check over your content or asking someone else to before hitting publish will allow you to catch any obvious mistakes.
I use Grammarly to help catch spelling and grammar errors on my website. I always read over any content before putting it live so I can hopefully find any mistakes previously missed.
Everything on your website is a reflection of your business. Ensure that you show your best self to visitors as their experience will determine whether they convert into paying customers.
6 // TOO MUCH GOING ON
The term ‘less is more’ is so relevant with website design, especially in today’s internet and smartphone world.
If your website has everything but the kitchen sink added to each page, it is going to make it harder for people to find what they are actually looking for.
It also makes it harder to highlight certain areas that you really want noticed as it is surrounded by way too much other stuff.
Embrace the empty space and give your content breathing room.
Having a simpler layout is vital for visitors on mobile phones and tablets due to the smaller screen size.
7 // COLOUR OVERLOAD OR HARD TO WRITE TEXT
A website should be a reflection of you and your business, but it is equally important that it appeals to your client base. You may love the colour lime green and butterflies but do your potential customers share your taste? Probably not! The last thing you want is to have your website turning away potential customers because it’s just too out there.
Choose appealing colours that suit your personal and business style but also look good and are attractive to your target audience.
Ideally, you need to create a colour palette early on and stick to it. Keeping a specific set of colours will help define your branding and keep everything you produce uniform.
The colour of your text and background are important factors you shouldn’t overlook. Having white text on a black background, for example, can be a bit much on the eyes and makes it hard to read.
You also have to consider the accessibility of your website text for people who have difficulty reading text on a screen. Is your text clear and does it have enough contrast to not give the reader a headache?What are the 7 design mistakes you should avoid on your small biz website?