There’s pages and pages on the Internet all giving you advice on what you should and what you shouldn’t have on your website. Sometimes there’s just too much information and you can get yourself bogged down by an information overload. This could lead to over thinking your website and creating either a monster, or a site which misses the obvious.
These 10 common website mistakes, will hopefully concentrate your mind about what your website should be.
1. Unclear Name and Subject
As soon as you land on a website, you should be able to answer these two questions in a matter of seconds: Who are they? What do they do?
If you can’t, you’ve failed in getting the most basic message right on the website. Sure, if you’re the likes of Nike or the BBC, you won’t have to tell people what you do, but I bet you their branding is still crystal clear and you know who they are. Put your logo in an obvious place on the webpage, so you can see it as soon as the page loads. If your logo isn’t clear about who you are and what you do, have a strapline next to it or somewhere equally obvious. Web users are lazy, don’t make it difficult for them!
2. Hiding the Contact Info
Yes, you want to be all modern and uber, but not having a clear call to action in the right places can mean you’re missing out on potential business. I’d recommend the contact details were in the header (and possibly the footer too), and then clearly positioned throughout the pages at relevant stages where it makes sense to ask the user to contact you. Again, like in point 1, don’t make it hard for web users, help them out! Make the email address a hyperlink to your contact page or their mail client, and make the telephone number something that the user can touch to phone on a mobile.
3. Bad Navigation
Like Phil and Kirstie from “location, location, location”, I like to use the words, “Consistent, Consistent, Consistent”! Consistency for your navigation/menu will help your users work out where they are, where they want to get to, and how to get back to previous pages they’ve visited. Don’t have different menus on different pages, pages that you can’t get to from the top main navigation (Google doesn’t like this). Make everything accessible and clear. Maybe include “breadcrumbs” at the top of pages to help people navigate around the website too.
4. Unorganised / Cluttered Content
You’ve probably landed on a website in the past where there is just so much information on the pages that you don’t know where to look and what to read, or what to click. Information overload, and you’ll probably click out of the site and go elsewhere. This is quite a common problem on older websites where the font is quite small and there is way too much information on each page. Giving users too many options on where to go and what to click confuses people. Make the content clear. Organise it into services/products that you offer, etc. Put yourself in their shoes, how would you want to see the content? If I was looking for an accountant for example and went to an accountant’s website, would I want to see an exhausted list of all their services, or would I want to see three or four boxes in the middle of the screen asking what I want from them? (e.g. “I am a small business looking for an accountant, I am looking for accountancy support for my team, I am looking for a specific accountancy service”). By offering these three questions in easy to understand boxes on the home page, you can immediately get engagement from the user and also tailor the next page for what the user wants to see.
5. Fonts and Colours
Think about what font would represent your company. If the Government website used Comic Sans, would you take them seriously? Would it convey the official, professional image it needs?
It’s horses for courses here when it comes to fonts. There’s no hard and fast rule (except one – don’t use Comic Sans please). A website about dog training, will have a more casual style font than say an accountancy firm. Only use one or two fonts across the website too. Don’t use multiple fonts, just because you can. An appropriate Sans font and a Sans-Serif font would normally suit most websites if used properly.
Colours – readability is key for colours. Don’t use dark backgrounds unless that’s your company branding and always make the text a white or off-white colour to keep it legible. Clean looking websites often have a white or off-white background, using colours respectively for accenting certain areas.
6. Not Mobile Friendly
Ok, so whilst writing this, we’re mid way through 2017. From studying a lot of my clients’ analytics I can tell you that around 50% of their users are using mobile devices when looking at their website (in some cases as much as 80% are mobile users). So, your website has to be mobile friendly now (if it’s not, seriously think about making it mobile friendly) or you’ll potentially be losing the interest of 50% of your audience (as well as increasing your bounce rate for your website as users click on to the site, and then immediately click away).
7. Poor Content
So, you’ve done well so far. A user has clicked on to your website, they know who you are, they know what you do, they haven’t clicked away yet … and then they read your content. If it’s poorly written all your hard work is for nothing and they’ll disappear. Ensure your website copy is meaningful, useful and grammatically correct. If you’re unsure, ask your work colleagues or friends to read your content, or better still, hire a copywriter to re-write it for you (they’re not as expensive as you might think and I know some great copywriters!).
8. Poor Quality of Photos
This is one of the main issues I run into with my clients. I ask if they have any photos I can use and they say “yep, I’ve got loads on my phone I’ll send them over”. That’s when my heart sinks. What I receive is often, poorly lit, out of focus, badly positioned photos, which are not a good representation of what their service or products offer. With the dawn of the camera phone, came the illusion that everyone is suddenly a great photographer 🙂 Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not! I’m not, most people aren’t.
The quality of photos can really make or break a website in terms of the wow factor. I can often use stock photos for some subjects, but for examples of your work, or products, or more personal images, a decent photographer is worth their weight in gold. When I do a website for a photographer, or for a company that has professional images already, I know the site is going to look great!
(Again, I know some decent photographers very well, so if you need their details, just shout)
9. An Annoying “Shouty” Website
There are some things that just turn me right off on a website. They are content that are either flashing at me, popping up, auto-playing music, or generally just visually shouting at me! It’s easily done – as an owner of a website you can fall into the trap of trying to say too much on a web page. Every service or product you offer is important and you want them to stand out on the page. But by trying to make everything stand out, nothing stands out! So, you then think of other ways to get certain content to stand out.
That’s when I would say, stop, take a deep breath. Un-flash, un-bold everything and decide what you want to focus on for that page. You should really just have one focal point per page. By having relaxed, calm content, the brain can take this in a lot quicker than noisy, shouty content that just confuses the user.
My personal no-nos are Flashing content, animated images, Pop-ups, auto-play videos (some do work though) and auto-play background music (why?)
10. Complicated Contact Forms
It’s such a shame when you’ve worked so hard to get the user to your website, to show them what you do and get them interested and ready to make contact, for you to then give them a 10-page form to complete. If they don’t complete that form and leave your website, you won’t know they ever got that far and who they are! Yes, you may need all that info to deal with their enquiry, but why don’t you ask them for the most basic contact info and then once they’ve sent that, then follow up with phone call or email with the information you really need?
It’s a common mistake that people ask and can really put people off from contacting you, and they disappear back into the Internet never to be seen again. Get the basic contact info first, then you’ve got their details and you make contact with them.
There are a lot more website mistakes too of course but these are the ones that I often find people make. Have a look at your website, do any of these 10 points ring any bells? If so, you know what to do.
The point of all this is to ensure that your website professionally conveys your services and products. The branding online needs to match what you do and say offline.