Every business needs an online presence. And there’s no better medium than a website.
A website carries your identity and brand through a URL. It’s your own space, which can be used to customise for specialised services and content.
Plus, it gives you a professional look. It makes you look better than a business that operates through social media only.
Before you hire a website designer or developer in Melbourne you may want to lookout for these 6 common mistakes.
Website design can be complex. There are many factors to account for. They include hosting options, aesthetics, and user experience.
But we’ll summarise those accounts into a small list. That is, we’ll look into website design mistakes to avoid.
They’re simple and timeless. They apply now (and will apply for the foreseeable future).
So to start off…
Not Optimising for Mobile.
We’ll start our list with basic SEO.
Any website should work on mobile. Over ½ the internet’s users access the internet through smartphones. And if your website doesn’t work there, then you won’t attract business.
Also, customers view you x2 more often on phone than on other media outlets. That’s the device they’ll contact you through, read your articles, and check your social media (source).
Google Hates Mobile Non-Responsive Sites.
Google’s algorithms will find your website repulsive. And your domain won’t show up in search results as often as you like.
Basically, lack of mobile optimisation hurts your marketing efforts. It also hurts your readers’ experience, forcing them away from your pages.
How to Optimize for Mobile.
Start by using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test (link). It gauges how easy it is to use your site on mobile.
You’ll use that tool after launching your site. And you’ll use it after every adjustment you make (since no website design is final).
Your goal should be an improvement in results with each test.
Next, you’ll need a checklist to go through with each design update. Below is a basic list you can start off with.
- Avoid non-responsive web designs (pick what scales well from small phones to laptops).
- Avoid pop-ups (they’re difficult to close on mobile).
- Ensure that buttons are large for user fingers (important for scrolling and navigation).
A large and detailed list can be found on Moz.com (source). You can consult that after major website updates.
Slow Loading Designs.
Mobile optimisation is all about user experience. And the same applies to loading speeds.
People today are impatient. They expect quick rewards for their online searches – else they turn to other brands.
And this applies to your brand too. If your website is slow to load, then expect to lose many of your customers.
Loading Speed Issues in Detail.
We’ll use a 2017 study by Google to showcase some loading speed stats (source).
The opening paragraph shows that most landing pages on mobile load within 22 seconds. It also tells us the average visitor leaves if pages don’t load within 3 seconds.
But to be fair, landing pages are large. They contain slow loading visual content and pop-ups that market the rest of the website.
So what about normal pages on a website?
The same source shows 70% of the analysed pages take 7 seconds to load visual content. That’s over twice as long as your traffic’s patience level.
Most websites are customer-repulsive. And your website is likely the same.
A slow loading page doesn’t just drive away customers. It kills their interest in your brand.
Unless you offer a service your customer desperately needs, chances are, they’ll look at your competitors.
Another risk is a loss of long-term clients. To keep your business thriving, you need an influx of return clients. And your website should keep them interested.
You need to supply interesting (and fast-loading) content. And if your website is a slow-loading irritation, then people won’t visit your site for updates.
How to Increase Website Loading Speed.
Start with the basics. When setting up your site, pick a good hosting package suitable for a professional business.
If possible, try getting a dedicated server. This’ll boost your loading time, giving you SEO privileges that most sites lack.
After setting up your site, visit Google’s Page Speed Insights (link). This is a tool that lets you check loading speeds for any URL. With each test, the tool highlights problem areas that need changing.
Next, you’ll need a review checklist after every update you make (including posts, new pages, aesthetics, etc.).
The following is a basic list you can follow…
- Enable caching. Only delete cache after major website edits.
- Compress visual content (small file sizes load faster).
- Use asynchronous loading tools (this loads text faster than visuals).
- Check and delete plug-ins that aren’t being used.
Designing Difficult to Read Content.
The previous 2 points discussed navigation, device comfort, and loading speed. Assuming you got those out of the way, it’s time to focus on your writing.
The key to keeping your customers hooked is “updates.” You need new products, interesting announcements (and of course) blog content.
Blog content is easier to update than the previous two. You can write your experience and share insights on your industry.
You can provide user guides to your products. You can even discuss your business’ evolution, turning it into a story worth following!
What Does That Have to Do With Readability?
All the previous ideas are interesting. But those ideas mean nothing if you can’t express them properly.
You need to structure your text in a way that makes it “absorbable.” You need to respect your traffic’s attention span and eye comfort.
There’s a set of rules you should follow to make that a reality. And we’ll list those below…
- Use H1 and H2 headings in text (this gives your writing better structure).
- Use 12px font for regular text, more for headings (Google’s SEO values larger font sizes).
- Don’t use images excessively (use them as memes to summarise a point).
- Avoid spamming ads in content (it makes your content look bad).
- Stay on topic, and keep your sentences short.
Writing Irrelevant Content.
Your website is all your customers know about your business.
Your content has to be as direct as possible. It should be relevant for the pages you design. And it has to be laid out for easy navigation.
Let’s assume that a restaurant is opening a website. And they’re designing their homepage content.
The first question to ask is – what does a customer want to see?
The answer will include the following…
- Appealing visuals of the food sold.
- Contact number (for reservations, deliveries, etc.)
- A quick access to the menu.
Other information is important, but they’re a lower priority than the previous list.
For example, that business might be tempted to write the story of their business. After all, it might be a family-owned enterprise with decades of history.
And while that information is interesting – it belongs to a different URL (probably the “About Me” page).
Notes to Keep In-Mind.
Relevance requires structure. And you get that with a visible navigation system.
Your business website should have a bar that shows different categories and subcategories. Each should lead to a page with content only relevant to that section.
Also, when writing web content, always keep the customer’s interest in-mind. Give info that answers questions or solves problems a customer has.
Linking Out to Other Domains.
Many website designs incorporate “social media icons” on their pages.
They’ll show off their FB and Twitter follower counts. They’ll entice viewers to visit those pages. And it’s all at the cost of sales.
Now this isn’t exactly a bad thing but you want to keep visitors on your page. One easy was is to make sure when you link out to these platforms you push them to a new tab. Or, even better let them follow you within your website.
It Should be the Opposite.
Social media should lead back to your site, not the reverse.
Social media is a pool that attracts traffic, eventually converting them to customers (at your website’s checkout pages).
Leading viewers to your social media defeats that purpose. It’s useless, unless you have a way to directly sell products on social media.
Ignoring Cyber Security.
Content aside, let’s look at security.
Most websites get hacked (if not properly secured). In fact, stats show that over 97% of Fortune 500 websites were hacked at some point (source).
So as a small business, your website may get compromised too.
This makes a horrible user experience. Not only do you lose money to hackers. But you also risk giving away information stored about your customers.
Those include IDs, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
How to Secure Your Website.
Start by getting an SSL certification. They aren’t expensive, and are usually offered as extras with most web hosting packages.
Next, we recommend using security plug-ins. They perform a variety of functions, from lowering login attempts, to adding extra verification steps.
Third, we recommend backing up your site. Sometimes, hackers may mess with folders or delete important content that’s otherwise unrecoverable.
In the event of a website compromise, a backup allows you to get back online fast.
Final Recommendation: Hire an Expert.
As a business owner, you have a lot to manage. And creating the optimal website design may be too much to deal with.
We recommend outsourcing the work to an expert. A good website designer will implement the previous checklist. And they’ll recommend subtle tweaks that’ll put your site in top shape!