It's difficult to overstate the importance of quality Web design. Even companies with great products and experienced management teams struggle in the face of poorly designed, hard-to-navigate websites. If you don't have a website that immediately draws in users and tells them everything they need to know about your company, you risk losing business to competitors that do invest in great website design.
While truly great websites don't come around every day, serious Web design mistakes are a dime a dozen. These seven errors are particularly terrible - and all too common.
As you design and build your company's online presence, take the time to learn how to fix website design mistakes like these, and improve your appearance in the eyes of your prospects.
1. Failing to Check Links Regularly and Fix Broken Links
If you use the Internet with any degree of regularity, you've visited a website with broken or illogical links. Few things are more frustrating than clicking on a link that you expect will bring you to a new, useful page - only to find a 404 error or other disappointing result on the other side.
If clicking on a broken link bothers you, you can only imagine how much it annoys your prospects. Although it's hard to find reliable statistics on this point, it's likely that a large proportion of site visitors who click on a broken link leave the site shortly thereafter.
In a visitors' mind, website administrators who can't keep their own links straight don't deserve their business.
Preventing broken links from impacting your lead generation, conversion, and sales strategies is painfully easy. Simply check all site links - both internal and external links - on a regular basis. If possible, use link-checking software to reduce the possibility of human error. You should also check your Google Search Console for 404 errors.
Although outdated links aren't quite as egregious as broken links, they can reflect poorly on you as well. This is particularly true for companies whose value propositions and key differentiators turn on their ability to provide up-to-date information.
Get in the habit of checking all of your website's external links on a semi-annual basis. Retire links to external pages with outdated information, such as a batch of 2013 statistics that have since been replaced by 2015 statistics. Your visitors will take notice of your attentiveness and conclude that your website is an authoritative source of information.
2. Slow Page Load Times
Slow-loading websites are nearly as common as broken links. Ideally, your website should fully load in two seconds or less for visitors with adequate broadband connections. If your load time stretches to five seconds or longer, you've got a serious problem on your hands.
After all, today's time-pressed Web surfers can't be bothered to wait for a pokey page to blossom. They probably have 10 other pages to choose from, many of which load in short order.
Your Web budget and ability to compromise on your vision for your website will affect your approach to slow-loading pages. If you have the funds, it may be worthwhile to invest in an enterprise-grade hosting solution that dedicates more server space to your site and reduces competition for bandwidth.
For a more budget-friendly solution, remove data-hogging features like auto-loading videos, excessive Flash animations, and other multimedia features. Replace them with aesthetically pleasing, low-bandwidth design elements.
3. Problematic or Counterintuitive Navigation
Great websites are easy and even fun to navigate. Fully describing the concept of "intuitive" or "superior" navigation is a bit like describing color, but there are a few critical components of any workable website navigation system.
For starters, users should rarely have to use their browser's "back" button to get where they need to go. This requires the judicious use of highly visible navigation links at the top of each page.
Just as importantly, users should be able to jump to key pages without even thinking about it. Depending on your business, your website's key pages might include your Contact, About Us, and Store pages.
Although the "back" button should only be used as a backup, you should never disable it. A disabled "back" button can hamper the user experience, particularly for folks with a certain navigation style.
Position your navigation bar across the top of the page or in the left vertical column. Website visitors like a consistent and obvious navigation system that allows them to quickly find the information they are seeking. A confusing navigation system, or making it difficult to find key information, is one of the top reasons why people will leave your website.
4. No Unified Branding and Schematics
Poor branding and color scheming is another common website design mistake. Your website's graphics and color scheme must reflect your firm's offline brand - the visuals on your vehicles, building, uniforms, and other corporate materials. A unified online brand helps your visitors immediately recognize your website as part of your broader corporate ecosystem, building trust and goodwill in the process.
Do not use a wide range of font styles and colors. Develop a consistent style guide that is used throughout your website. Make sure that your content is easy to read with clear contrast between your text and the background color so as not to cause strain on the eyes.
5. Hard to Find Contact Information
A great website follows a simple mantra: "Be available." In other words, your customers and prospects need to know how to get in touch with you and engage with other components of your corporate ecosystem.
Make sure your main phone number and/or a "Contact Us" button are prominently displayed on your website pages. Consider including an onsite chat feature or "Contact" sidebar as well. Also, make sure your social buttons - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other properties - are visible at the top or bottom of each page.
6. Not Optimized for Mobile Devices
Finally, your website's layout and navigation features must be optimized for mobile devices. This is an increasingly important component of on-page SEO and could result in your website being dropped from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Google announced that effective April 21, 2015 they would start dropping websites that are not optimized for mobile devices from their search engine results pages for mobile searches. Google estimates that 50% of their searches are from mobile users. Therefore, your website must be developed using responsive design for it to be optimized for mobile devices.
7. Poor Grammar and Spelling
Your online credibility suffers significantly if your text contains misspelled words and poor grammar. Your website visitors today are looking for information to help them better understand how your products and services help them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
Make sure you have someone review all of your content for proper spelling and grammar. If you don’t have access to a good editor, then please get one. Your agency, website developer and marketing team should have access to good editors to keep you from embarrassing yourself. There are also plenty of online resources to review your content and make sure your content communicates your information properly and effectively.
Learn How to Make a Better Website
When it comes to things that can go horribly wrong with your online presence, these seven Web design mistakes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally dozens of other problems that can befall your website, threatening your appearance in the eyes of prospective customers and choking off opportunities to close sales.
It's no exaggeration to say that your company's website is the heart and soul of its online marketing operation. If you're ready to invest in high-quality Web development and learn how to fix website design mistakes, download the free whitepaper “10 Key Steps for a Successful Website Redesign” now!