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The image above is an actual, real, functioning website. Not only does it give give you a headache, it’s also the perfect example of what to avoid when you’re designing a website for your business.
In 2018, your web design will make or break your company’s goals. Not just the way it looks, either—the way your website functions and the ease in which visitors can navigate it are also on the table. In fact, you have 10 seconds to leave an impression. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave.
There are hundreds of websites out there that will tell you what TO do in 2018, but the issue here is that all of those “Do This and Your Wildest Dreams Will Come True” tidbits of advice may not directly apply to your industry, and may in fact point you in the wrong direction.
So, in the interest of being useful instead of confusing, I spoke with our Creative Director, Greg Ratzlaff (who’s designed over 300 lead-churning websites), about what businesses—in EVERY industry—have been doing wrong. Below you’ll find the product of our conversation—the top 11 web design mistakes to avoid at all cost in 2018. If you follow his advice, you’ll have smooth sailing through the year.
The Top Website Mistakes to Avoid in 2018 At All Costs
Not only did the iconic movie’s revolutionary mix of live-action and animation blow my 10-year-old mind back in 1996, the website (which is still up and running) STILL blows my mind as one of the best examples of the absolute WORST website design mistakes you could possibly make.
Website design—especially small business website design—has advanced by light-years since 1996, but some design principles remain the same. Below you’ll find the top 11 things to avoid when designing a website in 2018 and beyond.
1. Your website does NOT tell a user right away what your company does and why they should choose you.
This is probably the biggest offender. Why? Because once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds. You can get everything else right, but if a user can’t make a justified decision on your website, they’re going to hit the back button. At the least, you should have your services/products in clear view as well as confidence-building elements like testimonials, awards, and industry affiliates.
2. Your website is NOT mobile friendly
Mobile-friendliness matters. It matters so much we made an entire animated infographic on how much it matters. Here are a few of the most important parts:
Not having a mobile-friendly site is one of the most common website mistakes, and is one problem you need to solve ASAP is yours is an offender.
3. Your website takes more than three seconds to load
If you thought people were impatient offline, they’re even more so online—thanks to a handy dandy tool called the “back” button. They don’t like waiting for anything and expect your website to load fast.
Now, when I say fast, I don’t mean under 10 seconds, or even under 5 seconds—47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
4. Your website has font sizes that are too small and not reader-friendly.
Have you ever found yourself squinting to read the text on a website? It isn’t ideal, and if you’re like the majority of internet users, you just plain don’t have time for that nonsense.
One of the most common website flaws is text that’s too difficult t o read. Body text should be above 14px and all body copy should be in a Sans Serif font so it’s more compatible and reader friendly across device types and at small sizes. If you have to squint to read your website’s text on a mobile device, it’s time to have a discussion with your web designer.
5. Your website Has lots of links that open New Browser windows
That’s the first step down a slippery slope to a bad user experience. It welcomes a user to leave your site, but there is no “back” button for them to return to. Another downer? Opening multiple browser windows at a time not only makes navigation a pain (especially on a mobile device), and they eat up bandwidth—which can slow someone’s device and basically ruin their whole online experience.
6. Your Website has Social Media icons at the top of your website
This is a common problem for websites to have, and welcomes users to leave your site right away while encouraging distraction. Once they leave your site for social media, they fall into a scrolling rabbit hole and may never come back to your site. Put them on the side. Put them in the middle. Put them at the bottom. Put them anywhere but the top.
7. Your Website hides things.
Your parents probably drilled this into your head as a kid, and it’s a good lesson to learn if you want a lead-churning website. While mobile menus are great on mobile devices, they’re less so on a desktop. Users need text links to help navigate and understand the options they have. By hiding them you’re losing opportunities to get your user further down your experience funnel.
8. Your website has links and buttons that Aren’t big enough to click.
Have you ever tried to click around on a mobile website, but every button you clicked was so small that the page you ended up on was pretty much a crapshoot? Buttons and links are so often created as small clickable “mouse” friendly links and buttons not meant for human fingers. With mobile traffic on the rise at over 60 percent, these links and buttons need to have enough space and size where they are easy to tap and navigate to the desired action or page.
9. Your website does NOT have H1 headings or H2 subheads.
Most people skim headlines and emphasized text to decide if they’re interested in a webpage.
Heck, I bet your attention was drawn to that sentence just because it stood out. When a website has walls of text and cannot be skimmed easily for interesting content, it’s a user experience killer. Your user will end up leaving your site quicker than you can say “come back!”
Another reason you need headings and subheadings? So search engines can find you. There are more than 6,586,013,574 searches a day worldwide. One of the factors for ranking higher in search engines is by having helpful markup for bots to read and decipher what a page is about. If a bot can’t determine what your page is about, it will be hidden somewhere in the no-mans-land of the double-digit search result pages.
10. Your website does NOT have contact information easy to find or access.
Once on a company’s homepage, 64 percent of visitors want to see the company’s contact information, and 44 percent of visitors will leave if there’s no contact information or phone number available. The end goal of the user experience on your website should be to create a conversion by having a user get in touch with you. If they cannot find your phone number, address, contact form, contact page, email or other forms of contact, they will become frustrated and a lost opportunity.
11. Your website is not HTTPS (secure)
Remember the Equifax data breach in 2017? Or the Experian one in 2012? If you’re the owner of a Target credit card, you probably remember the Target breach in 2013. Point is, data breaches and hacks are becoming commonplace, and website users know it. How commonplace? In 2017 there were over 33,000,000 hacked websites.
Not having a secure website is like waving a red flag for both search engines and cautious website visitors. And no, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an ecommerce site. If you ask for any personal information—from email and phone number to first and last name—your site needs to be secured. If not, Google (and other search engines) will push your website further down in the search results and limit your online visibility.
Avoid These Common Website Mistakes Small Businesses Make—Hire a Pro
As someone with an astronomical amount of student loans to pay off, I get that cash doesn’t flow on trees—and that dropping 20k on a new website can seem more like a bad joke than a viable option. But ask yourself this:
If your website is your online sales rep, would hire some random person off the street who charges next to nothing but also never closes a sale, or are you going to hire the one with a proven background of closing deals and generating new customers? If it were my company, I’d choose the polished one, and that’s how you need to think about your website. No, you don’t necessarily need to drop 20k, but It’s not enough anymore to throw up a WordPress site with your phone number and address—the modern consumer expects a pleasant, engaging online experience, and they won’t settle because they don’t have to.
When choosing your web design partner, be sure it’s someone with a proven track record of success in your industry or for your size of company. Look for case studies that document the success. Read testimonials of past clients. And above all, choose a partner that bases all creatives they do on hard data.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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