Small businesses make mistakes all the time when it comes to website design. It is almost inevitable, because the small business owners don’t know the technical aspects of making their website a better experience for the visitor. Some of these blunders result in a significantly lower website performance and others might even dramatically affect customer’s experience. Here are some common high impact mistakes web designers make.
This article is equally helpful for small business owners and for web designers.
Designing in Flash
The probably biggest design mistake is designing in Flash. Flash is unequivocally a great tool for creating an informative presentation about a product or service. You have surely landed on a site that is designed in Flash and you have most likely had a stunning visual experience. The business owner behind that site may be proud of its lively design and he may want to show it to his friends and family so that they will see how cool it is.
What is the problem I have against Flash? First, it is not a text. It is an animation. Therefore, it handles text in a way that is not search engine friendly. Many website owners do not know this, which explains why the web is plagued with these ubiquitous animation type intros.
Second, Flash is slow to load. Your visitors hate that. If you are making your visitors stop at a Flash landing page, or if your page is slow to load because it has a Flash header, you are actually presenting an obstacle for people to make the buying decision or to take any other action you have in mind. So, get rid of Flash right away.
Use HTML5 instead. It offers a lot of promise when it comes to Flash because it can be search engine optimized.
If you are about to create a new site or are re-designing an existing one, and you think that Flash is the coolest thing since sliced bread, remember sliced bread is not the only way to eat bread. There are other ways, too. Just take chunks, bites and pieces and do it differently. But do yourself and your customer a favor and stay away from Flash.
Another design-related mistake that a lot of businesses make is using a black background. The fact is it has a shadow effect on the eyes. So, when you are looking at it for the first time as a visitor, you can see the content really well because of the white-black contrast. But within 15-20 sec you will start to get a shadow effect on the eyes. As you look away from the screen, this effect continues to appear. Avoid having a black background as much as possible.
Call to Action Below the Fold
One common design mistake is to put the call to action (i.e., newsletter sign ups, the contact forms, the lead generation forms, etc) well below the fold. This can take the conversion rate from double digits down to single digits.
Too Much Clutter
With good web design, less is almost always more. A common lapse is to try to wow the user with impressive pictures and flash animations. It is better to focus on a single central message.
Don’t overload your website with a lot of high tech clutter. Good web design is clean, crisp, focused and honest. Get rid of the redundant elements and find quality images. One good quality image in the home page is better than 200 bad images inside.
When I was developing one of my sites, a weight loss blog promoting Medifast diet coupons and Nutrisystem discounts, I decided to choose a very simple template that would suit this particular type of content.
I quickly realized a very crucial thing – when you design a website, it is not you who you want to please. It is your users who determines whether you’re successful or not.
Moreover, it is not the website you want them to be impressed with. It is the product or service that you offer. For example, I like the color blue, but I know that green is the color of fitness, health, relaxation, diet and weight loss, and this is the color I used for this particular site. So, do not design your website based on what you like but rather on what your market dictates. This will ensure the design is focused and clutter-free.
No “Contact” Info
Neglecting to include a phone number and physical address is another errancy small businesses tend to make on their site. Instead they develop a 10-20 question FAQ assuming that every possible question that their customer may have is going to be answered by that FAQ list.
While they typically include a contact form, again – they do not put a phone number and a physical address. When this happens, it tells your customers your are avoiding them (in a way). It does not convey trust.
Do yourself a favor and do not be afraid to get phone calls. Don’t be afraid to let people rate you. This can actually help your business. One must not forget the high touch aspect of customer service and customer relationships.
No “About Us” Info
Last but not the least, small businesses fail to include an About Us or Company section. Customers want to know about you. They want to know about the people behind the business; where they have worked; even what they look like, in many cases. So, don’t forget to include these sections; preferably with a lot of details.
And don’t be afraid to show the company’s personality. The current currency online is trust. One of the best ways for people to make a decision whether they can trust you is by knowing the backgrounds of the people that work in that company and the quality of their thoughts. Make sure these profiles or bios are engaging and include pictures.
This, again, goes all down to customer service. Don’t be afraid to put the pictures up of the people your customers are talking to the most—your customer service reps. They will feel more attached to the company and your customers will love it as well.
By avoiding the design mistakes we’ve just talked about, you can improve your customer service, encourage customer interactions and above all – build trust.