5 Common Web Design Mistakes Businesses Make (And How To Fix Them)

common web design mistakes small businesses make

A website is necessary for any business in 2018, and it’s hard to imagine that ever changing. Customers turn to the internet daily to find products and services that will help them solve their problems.

Millions of businesses have what customers want, but their websites don’t always do a great job of conveying it!

Over the years, we’ve found that there are 5 common web design mistakes that businesses make: Lack of responsiveness, no clear call to action, bad design, greedy web forms, and no analytics tracking tools.

Your small business website’s #1 job is to turn visitors into customers. Could any of the above issues be causing this¬†NOT¬†to happen?

So What Causes Common Website Mistakes?

what causes web design mistakesStarting without a plan causes web design mistakes. That’s just the bottom line. Your website’s goals should be defined, displaying your business’ narrative loud and clear.

Also, don’t just focus on how pretty the website looks, but focus on how it functions.

If you built the website yourself using a website builder, it’s easy to get caught up in the pretty and modern designs most site builders offer. However, your website might miss addressing key elements that are not built into your template.

As a small business, it’s important to understand the customers you want to attract. You can easily do that by addressing these five questions:

  • Who? – Who do you want to use your site?
  • What? – What are visitors looking for and will they find it on your website?
  • Where? – Where does a visitor go to become a customer right now?
  • How? – How will visitors use your website and how will they become customers?
  • Why? – Why should a potential customer choose you over your competitors?

A bad website not only fails to answer these, but it also doesn’t answer them clearly enough. A good website answers all five questions using words, design, and experience for the user.

On to the first and most important issue.

1. Your Website Is Not Responsive (Or Has Mobile Issues)

If you’re reading this and your website is not responsive then STOP and find a way to fix this as soon as possible!

In our article, 3 Ways To Get More Customers to Your Restaurant Online, we talk about how nearly 60% of all searches on Google are performed on a mobile device.

So many people use their phones to browse the internet, especially when it comes to finding a product or service. Due to this ever-growing number, it’s absolutely critical that you have a responsive website design.

responsive web design illustration

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is when you have one layout that will adjust its elements accordingly for different screen sizes.

For instance, if you’re on a computer, go to our homepage and resize your browser window. You’ll see that text, images, and containers all size themselves to fit the screen.

responsive vs non responsive web designSometimes you’ll encounter a website on your phone where you must pinch and zoom to use it properly. This is a bad user experience and as a result you could lose Google rankings as well as potential customer interest.

Also, check for errors in your existing responsive design should be addressed. Potential customers comparing different businesses are going to skip your business if your website makes it harder for them to get to their solution.

Luckily, Google provides a great tool for testing mobile responsiveness. If you are unsure of if your site is responsive, please use their handy tool by clicking here.

Fixing The Non Responsive Website Mistake

Unfortunately, to make your own website responsive will require some HTML / CSS knowledge. You can also find responsive HTML and WordPress themes all over the internet.

In addition, using a website builder is a quick way to make your website responsive without coding knowledge.

We wrote about the Pros & Cons of Using Website builders in a previous article, but ultimately your best bet is going hiring a web designer.

This way they can make your website responsive while still paying attention to the user’s experience.

2. No Clear Call To Action

website call to action

You website needs to tell users who you are and why they should choose you immediately. Even more important is to tell them to take action right away!

Position your call to action on your website above the fold giving clear direction on the next steps the visitor should take.

This may be your website’s only chance to capture a potential customer so don’t blow it! Talk about the value of your product or service, prompt the visitor to take action, and be very clear with your words.

People want answers to their problems and quickly!

Give Users An Action Above The Fold of Your Website

Tell the visitor who you are and how to engage on your home page right when they arrive. The words “Free Estimate”, “Get Started”, “Call Now” and “Sign Up Today” guide your visitors to where they need to go.

Ultimately, this will turn those visitors into customers. Help them out!

Pair your call to action with a great image or video that represents your business. Don’t overdo it though! You definitely don’t want too many words or cheesy stock photos here.

If you confuse potential customers to the point where they have to think about it, your call to action has failed.

Also, please don’t feature that generic “young adult with a call center headset” photo on your site!

3. Having A Bad Design (Here’s A Breakdown)

Even if you’re using a premium theme or pretty template, you could still have bad design for your website.

This includes bad font styling, font sizes being to small, bad photography, and even the design just not matching the business’ tone at all. Let’s not forget about hard to find contact info.

Your website should be uniquely designed to fit your brand, this is your business we are talking about! Above all, you are going to leave a sour taste in your visitor’s mouths if you cut corners on the design.

So to help, we are going to break this down into 5 sub-sections to better focus on each. (Does that mean this is a list of 10 now?)

a. Typography & Font Sizes

typography in web design

There are certainly some bad font choices out there. You can find dozens of great web font pairings online, and in the Google Fonts website.

A good design uses 2 fonts, and three in certain situations. A good design also uses the two fonts for certain purposes. Headings will often use one type, while the body text uses another.

Font styling is also important. Your font’s style across all devices determines the readability of your website. Therefore, you should make sure that your font size is readable, the line height isn’t too small, and that you are using the proper font weight.

Make these adjustments in your CSS file to get your font just right. If you need help, refer to this helpful guide on styling fonts. Also, use Google Fonts for help with installing and pairing fonts on your website.

b. Bad Photography & Media

Please don’t be one of the websites with cell phone pictures taken in portrait mode at a weird angle! Also, don’t be the business with your thumb showing up in corner of the photos!

Joking aside, the photos on your website create perhaps one of the strongest impressions on visitors.

When visitors come to your website, they don’t just want to just read, they want to see. Are visitors going to like the visual content that you deliver to them?

bad photography example on a websiteHire a photographer or set up a day where you can get some really great photos with your high-end smartphone camera. The example above is fine for social media, but it could certainly be better quality.

Make sure to plan in advance what photos you are going to that and why. Don’t just take pictures of things because they look cool, each photo should serve a unique purpose for being used on your website.

It’s also great to have an embedded video on your page. This way, you are serving visitors who want to read, visitors who want to see, and visitors who would rather watch.

Now, while hiring a photographer can be expensive, there are also alternatives for finding quality images. Websites like Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels all provide free to use high quality photographs for your business.

However, as a small business it’s important that you throw in original photography of your products and services.

c. The Design Just Doesn’t Match Your Brand

Here’s a fun story we have about a website here in our city for a popular local restaurant.

About a year ago or so, they had a website that was pretty bad. This was because whoever designed it seemed to just do the following:

  1. Find a premium theme for a coffee shop.
  2. Install said premium theme’s demo layout and dummy content.
  3. Add the restaurant’s logo, images, and content, replacing the dummy content.
  4. Launch the website.

This is a pretty quick, but not recommended way to get a website online sure. However, there were a few things that went totally wrong with this! Why?

The restaurant serves Cajun / Creole food, and was using a coffee shop theme. It even had coffee bean icons above each heading! The colors were dark brown / light brown, featuring images of etouffee, crawfish, and jambalaya.

The font was pretty blocky, and rather small. Also, the images were stretched out from a lower resolution.

It was even raining on the day they took a picture of the restaurant exterior from across the busy street. The logo wasn’t even in the shot! Their logo was featured on the website, but it was totally out of place on this design.

In fact, everything was.

Take a look at this fake example we put together and think about how it makes you feel about buying a burger from them.

common web design mistakes

Design & Content Must Work Hand in Hand!

From visiting their website, you absolutely did not get a good impression of what this restaurant was or what it had to offer. The design couldn’t have been more off base.

Being inside of the business was so much different from its website. Someone took notice and the following year their website was redone.

It’s so much better now! If you can guess who I’m talking about feel free to send us an email.

In short, your design says as much about your business as any content you place on it. These two elements must work hand in hand. Think of ideas and draw them out first!

Think about the colors, fonts, images, and words that you believe would really give a great impression of your business.

Please don’t just download a template online and change the content unless you really know how to make it your own.

Get a second opinion from someone who is more design savvy than you, and receive feedback from friends and family. Heck send us a preview and we’ll take a look too.

d. It’s Hard to Contact You

We’re actually seeing this become less of a problem, but your contact page should always be one click away from wherever the visitor is on your website.

Display your phone number, address, service area, and link to contact forms in easy to find areas.

When the visitor is ready to become a customer, make it easy for them to do so! Add your phone number somewhere above the fold. Include your address, hours, and mention your service area(s) where visitors can find you right away.

e. Not Thinking Of Different Ways To Engage

different ways customers can engage your small business website

Some users prefer to call, others prefer to visit your location, and a few prefer to send you an email. There are visitors who will even opt to check you out on Social Media.

Give your visitors every possible option to engage your business when building your website. Don’t forget to make your phone number clickable for mobile users! Feature your social media links, preferably at the bottom of your website.

This is recommended as opposed to putting your email address on the website. It’s best to use a contact form for receiving customer emails. This lets you get back to them conveniently, and at your discretion.

Speaking of receiving customer emails…

4. Very Greedy Forms

Contact forms are widespread on the internet. Due to their convenience for both the business and the visitor, it’s important you have at least one set up on your website. It’s also important to make sure that your contact form isn’t being too greedy.

What do we mean by this?

A greedy contact form is a common web design mistake because it’s asking the visitor for way too much when it comes to them engaging with your business.

Less Is More To Get Them in the Door

For example, let’s say you have a form set up to offer free diagnostics on a person’s vehicle.

Of course your form should ask for name, phone number, email, make / model / year, and ask the customer to describe their issue. However, you can probably get away with excluding things like mileage, engine type, last service date, last oil change, etc.

Think about what information is absolutely necessary to capture so that you can start the conversation towards turning the lead into a customer.

Also, try to refrain from using the word “Submit” for the send button on your form. Instead, try using phrases like “Send Now” and “Request Now”.

5. No Analytics For Tracking Results

a common web design mistake when small businesses are not using analyticsThis is one of the biggest mistake most businesses make! Almost every website we’ve redesigned or worked on was not using tools like Google Analytics to track how visitors interact with their website.

Analytics tools help you measure the results of your website, and help you identify where it can be improved.

Google Analytics lets you track the number of visitors, what device they were using, how long they were on your website, where they went, and much more.

It even lets you know how many visitors leave your website right after visiting, which is known as the bounce rate.

With this data, you are able to see where to make ongoing changes to your website that will help to improve your results. Tools like Google Analytics helps you identify where you can improve usability issues, and ultimately help turn more visitors in to customers.

Constant adjustments, testing, and optimizing is important to your continued success online. Analytics tools will help you tremendously in your efforts here.

Google Analytics is free to use and install for your website. We definitely recommend installing it right away if you haven’t!

Have You Encountered These Mistakes On Other Websites?

Think about the last time you used a website that you were really frustrated with or was difficult to use. Remember how you felt about that? You website visitors could be feeling the same way!

Your website is a digital asset that’s meant to serve visitors 24 / 7. Put yourself in your user’s shoes, and think about how you can make the process of getting them from visitor to customer as easy as possible.

What are some of your biggest web design pet peeves?