It’s not exactly news to say that web design is important to the success of your company’s digital marketing strategy. While there’s plenty of information out there about the latest design and UX trends, businesses of all sizes get it wrong all the time.
Billion-dollar businesses aren’t suffering because of poor web design, but many small and medium sized businesses could benefit from an audit and an update of their website’s design and functionality. Even those who do it well can always benefit from making minor optimizations periodically.
If your site isn’t performing up to your expectations, see if you’re committing one of these 5 common web design mistakes:
1. Not Strategizing Hierarchal Aesthetics
As a web designer, you want users to consume your content in the way you intended when you designed the site. Though it sounds complicated, “hierarchal aesthetics” simply means prioritizing the content on your page so that your audience isn’t just hit with a number of different words, images, and CTA buttons that feel haphazardly placed.
It’s important to remember that although you’ll still be making adjustments and optimizations regularly, the less often you have to edit your site, the better. A low-maintenance site begins with a well-thought-out plan during the initial setup process.
Ideal visual hierarchies should lead to some concrete goal. For example, are you trying to educate potential customers on your company’s services, or are you trying to get a quick impulse-buy from your target audience? Whatever you goals, it’s important to lay them out before you design, and build your aesthetic hierarchy with these goals in mind.
Make your site simple, but not boring. Informative, but not filled up with text. Content-rich, but visually simple. All of this is to say that web design is an art and a science. Even more, it’s one that requires user-feedback in order to get an accurate picture of whether you’re doing the right thing or not.
Because the purpose of a website is to inform , it’s easy to go overboard and include an abundance of information that may or may not be necessary for your audience to know. The key to avoiding this “overcrowding” phenomenon is to go through multiple rounds of edits, eliminating a little more non-essential text each time through. If something just can’t be erased altogether, feel free to add another page where that information can live without crowding your homepage.
Don’t forget that the majority of people who see your website will be doing so via mobile device. Big clocks of text don’t tend to translate well to small screens, so be mindful of this when thinking about each page’s layout.
3. Tricky Navigation
Creating an intuitive user experience (UX) is easier said than done. Sometimes web designers can fall into the trap of thinking that something on a website is clear and obvious, when in fact it’s only clear and obvious because they were the one that built it.
Asking the question, “What are my visitors coming here to do?” can help put you inside the mind of your website’s visitors and help you plan accordingly. For example, if you’re building a website for a restaurant, it’s probably a good idea to have a “view menu” option above the fold and on the homepage (and accessible in other ways, too). If you’re designing a site that relies on e-commerce, your most popular products should be front and center with and purchasing should only take a few clicks. It’s no secret that reducing the number of steps from “view” to “checkout” is critical for driving online sales.
It goes without saying that some website functions have been eliminated due to the increase in mobile browsing. At the same time, some features that were developed intentionally for mobile use, such as the “hamburger” menu, may have a place on desktop sites too. The streamlined look of mobile-first sites is becoming more popular with businesses who, above all else, prefer to keep things simple and functional. This strategy is growing in popularity across the board, and for good reason – people just don’t have the time (or don’t believe they have the time) to spend several minutes trying to seek out the information that they came for.
4. Poorly Placed Ads
First and foremost, there’s nothing wrong with putting ad space on your website. In fact, if you’re operating a blog or other content-based site, it’s the best way (and in some cases the only way) to monetize your business. Still, you don’t want your audience to feel overwhelmed by obtrusive ads that ruin their experience.
It’s common for designers to forget about the importance of thoughtfully-placed ad spaces until it’s too late. Browse your own site regularly and if you’re feeling even the slightest bit put off by where some of your ads embedded, make the necessary adjustment. If they’re bothering you, it’s a near-guarantee your audience is feeling the same way.
5. No CTA
In order for a business to thrive, there’s a need to convince other people to use your service, read your content, buy your products, etc. You should be making the conversion or lead process as easy as possible by including clearly-marked CTA (call-to-action) buttons that fit seamlessly within your site.
Imagine visiting a website for a financial consulting service and not being able to easily figure out how to get in contact with someone. Or think about a favorite blog you subscribe to – would you read it as often as you do if you hadn’t hit the subscribe button once upon a time?
Regardless of the type of business you’re running, at some point there has to be some customer action taken. Make it easy on them by including relevant CTAs throughout your site.
The “secret sauce” for optimal web design is comprised of two ingredients: careful planning, and frequent optimization. Your users will let you know where changes are needed and it’s up to you to listen and adjust your site accordingly.
If your brand needs assistance in designing a website that fits your goals, get in touch today to find a solution that works with your business objectives.