NINE BAD WEBSITE DESIGN PRACTICES TO AVOID
I am sure we have all walked into a house, thought “ew” and wanted to leave immediately?! A bad first impression can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Think of your website home page as your front door. Does your website make users want to leave immediately? If your website is inviting, clean and well organized – users will want to browse and tour around.
Okay, enough of the metaphor, here are nine bad practices to avoid and some ways to help your website’s curb appeal (couldn’t help myself):
1. You’re not telling the user who you are
What is the first thing you do when you meet someone – you say “hello” and introduce yourself. Remember in high school we all had to write an elevator speech? Your business website needs a short and sweet description of what your business is and what your selling (whether it’s yourself, a service or a product).
By no means, am I recommending a literal “welcome”. Use an in-your-face headline that explains what your business offers. You can reference my home page for an example of straightforward headline. My business offers two-week custom Squarespace websites – so that is the first thing a potential customer reads when he/she visits my site.
2. Your website is not mobile friendly
Perhaps one of the biggest conversations is in the web design world is mobile responsiveness. Stat Counter shares that as of February 2018 51.95% of website visits were on a mobile device. Users may visit your website for the first time and if they do not like what they see, I promise you they will search for another company. It’s part of the first impression – if you show up with a wrinkly shirt to dinner, I’m going to think that you do not care.
Thankfully, all Squarespace templates are automatically responsive on table and mobile devices.
3. Your page is stocked with stock imagery
The problem with stock imagery is that anyone can use it. Especially if you are pulling from a free stock site – odds are thousands of other sites have the same photo of two business men shaking hands over a desk. Stock images tend to have the opposite effect, instead of putting the finishing touch to a page a canned, fake and semi-relevant photo is slowly unraveling all the hard work you’ve put into the actual content.
Odds are your business has had some professional photos taken recently that will provide some necessary authenticity. If not, professional photographers are quite reasonable these days. Having worked with a number of small businesses who are in need of images – I am happy to recommend a photographer.
4. Your background colors are blinding people
While selecting highlighter yellow with bright red type over it might sound like a good idea in theory… it’s not. I have a headache and am seeing spots just thinking about it.
Have an appropriate contrast between text and background (or images). Before any website build, I create a color palette for the website and do not stray from it. The colors can be pulled from your logo, your business format (e.g. florists would probably use green as a main color) or a favorite image.
5. You’re still using Flash
Oh boy, Flash was basically outlawed by Google three years ago and had been irrelevant for many years before. And Flash intros are definitely outdated – making a user wait to watch a video before allowing them to view your content is cruel and a guaranteed way to lose them.
Time and money is better spent elsewhere. Instead invest in custom icons or an informative infographic, both can be useful in branding your website. Rather than slowing down loading times on your website, increase usability (and load times).
6. Your web pages are cluttered with too many words
Having eight paragraphs explaining how you install a roof shingle-by-shingle is not interesting. While you may enjoy the conversation, your customer just wanted to make sure you’re reliable and that their roof won’t leak anymore.
Replace paragraphs explaining why you think you’re the best with testimonials that can be broken up on quote levels and provide a sense of security in your abilities.
7. You are not taking advantage of headers
Similar to not dropping paragraphs of copy onto your pages – make sure you are utilizing your headers.
Not only do headers help SEO they draw a user’s eye to important copy. Squarespace has three customizable header font options that will allow you to create scannable content (especially on your homepage). Use a header with teaser text to prompt users to click through to other pages on your website.
8. Your website is one big buzzword
Whether it’s your keywords or just the best buzzword in the digital ecosystem… we know what you’re doing. Stuffing titles at the top of the page that are 14 words long is going to look messy and amateur. There is such a thing as being penalized for uneven keyword distribution. Same thing with throwing too many buzzwords into your content – you’re going to leave users scratching their head and thinking “huh”.
Squarespace has so many great ways to incorporate keywords into your headings, sub-headings and paragraph text that will allow search engines to pick up your site. Having a natural flow to your website will create a much better user experience.
9. Your website takes too long to load
Large images, excessive plug-ins or too much content on one page are all reasons that your website could be taking too long to load. Having a slow loading website will absolutely affect your placement in a Google search.
Just a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Squarespace recommends keeping each page under 5MB. Couple other tips:
Optimize your images for web display
Spread out content across multiple pages
Limiting to two fonts
Avoiding these bad practices when designing your website will help increase time spent on page and conversions. Your home page should pull potential customers in and make them want to learn more about your business. Realtors know that fresh baked cookies help sell homes – you know how to sell yourself best, apply that to your website.
Would you like a site audit or a free consultation?