Web design is a constantly evolving philosophy. As technology improves and communications become faster and more meaningful, web designers need to explore new ways of reaching their companies’ customers and establishing value. Sometimes, an older site needs an overhaul or complete replacement in light of new technologies or emerging trends.
When designing or redesigning a business website, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do. Many common web design blunders can work to your disadvantage, discouraging customers from using your business. Below you’ll find several examples of what to avoid during site construction or redesign.
Lack of Quality Content
Today’s consumers want much more than just a good deal – they want to feel connected to brands and enjoy seeing their experiences valued. One of the best ways you can offer value to your site’s visitors is with high-quality content. This can be a blog, image galleries, video content, interactive elements, and anything else that delivers value in a relevant way to visitors on your site.
Content also has a tangible impact on your search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a game with constantly changing rules and trends, but consistently updating your site with high-quality content is a great way to rank better in search results. Freshness and relevance are huge boosters when it comes to SEO, so ramping up your content generation is a great way to land more hits on your site and convey value to consumers.
Having Little to No Grasp of SEO
When it comes to SEO, you also need to stay up to date on the latest trends that affect your site and industry. Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly tweaking their algorithms to create a level playing field for every site, and in turn, marketers must figure out new ways to get their sites high in search result rankings. As previously stated, regularly adding high-quality content to your site is a fantastic method for earning better SEO results, but you also need to rethink your keywords. Explore long-tail keywords and phrases, such as questions a consumer may enter into a search engine’s search field, and include them in your SEO efforts.
Opening Multiple Windows
If you asked a million people what their three least favorite things about the internet are, chances are a great deal of them would include pop-up windows in their lists. Pop-ups are now automatically associated with advertisements, and more than that, they are usually unwelcome. People don’t like seeing random windows pop open if they didn’t choose for them to appear, so take care to avoid any scripting or page elements that create new windows. Even if you have pop-ups with valuable content, users are highly likely to close the pop-up window instinctively as soon as they notice it opening.
If you have something of value to provide to users, make sure it’s on an actual page, and make sure your site navigation doesn’t prompt the user’s browser to open a new window needlessly. This not only appears cluttered, it also builds mistrust in the user, because most people associate pop-ups with scams and hard-sell advertisements.
Too Much Reliance on Free Design Services
Just about every customer-focused business needs a website today, and this need has given rise to an explosion of free web design services. For the most part, these services can be invaluable to a growing startup or new business that doesn’t have the capital to invest in full-fledged web design. However, once your business can afford professional design services, make the switch to something more robust and detailed.
Free website builders typically employ lots of back-end coding that slow the site’s performance overall. If you take the time to explore freelancers and professional design services, chances are good that you’ll find a far more cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing design that performs much better.
No Calls to Action
Calls to action (CTAs) are more important than people realize. You need to be direct when you ask a site visitor to take action, such as asking them to opt-in to an email list, complete a purchase, leave a product review, or share a piece of content on social media. CTAs need to be direct without becoming obnoxious. This means placing them naturally in your content and on your site instead of bombarding visitors to your site as soon as they land on your page.
If you’re trying to improve your website’s performance, you need a way to measure it over time. More importantly, however, is you need to turn what you learn into actionable changes that improve the overall user experience. Your website is a massive investment, and you need to ensure you’re seeing acceptable returns on that investment. Analytic tools are crucial. If you’re not using them, you’re probably overlooking areas of your website that desperately need attention and are causing you to hemorrhage conversions.
Lackluster Social Presence
The evolution of the internet and the advent of social media completely reshaped how people connect and communicate with one another. This has also changed how businesses interact with their customers. Social media allows brands to have more personal, relevant, and meaningful interactions with their audiences. Building a strong social media presence is a fantastic method to boost your brand identity and stay fresh in the minds of potential customers.
Incorporate a social aspect in your web design. Allow users to share content across their social media profiles, and you’ll see a boost in your lead generation. Most consumers will pay more attention to a close friend’s recommendation over an advertisement, so a strong social media presence will help foster organic leads.
No Understanding of Responsive Design
People use several types of devices for internet use today. In years past, web designers simply needed to make sure their sites looked good on a desktop computer screen. Now, mobile technology is at the forefront and most consumers use smartphones and other mobile devices to browse the web, enjoy content, connect socially, and make purchases. The concept of responsive design has emerged with this growing trend.
Most web designers are starting to incorporate touchscreen technology in their planning phases, meaning they design their sites for mobile viewing from the ground up. Your website needs to perform reliably on any type of screen, and users should be able to navigate your pages easily no matter what type of device they use to do it.
Disregarding User Data
Big data has entered the business conversation over the last few years, and this concept describes the incalculable amount of data generated by users online. Businesses have found various methods for capturing and using this data for the benefit of their customers. If you don’t have some kind of data collection capability, you’re missing out on a massive pool of potential.
Data analytics are crucial for assessing customer needs, trends, and disruption in your market. Additionally, you need a method for capturing customer information. This can be as simple as offering an opt-in to your email newsletter, or something more detailed such as a loyalty program that rewards consumers for their participation.
Ultimately, one the biggest determining factors in the overall success of your website is the usability. Customers aren’t going to enjoy having to hunt for what they want, so make sure you organize your site logically, and users can easily navigate your pages. The core information you want to offer visitors should be easy to find, and you need to gear the content you offer towards your customers’ pain points and problems.
Offer solutions to problems instead of just products and services. Focus on the experience of your brand rather than just the tangible gains of making a purchase. Incorporate these concepts into your website construction and you’re sure to find success.
Related: 34 Inspiring & Responsive Web Design Portfolio Layouts
This post was written by Stephen Moyers, an online marketer, designer and avid tech-savvy blogger. He is associated with Los Angeles-based SPINX Digital Agency. He loves to write about web design, online marketing, entrepreneurship and much more. Apart from writing, he loves traveling & photography. Follow Stephen on Twitter & Google+.
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