Get your website working properly and it can be a huge driver for new business and income. To do that though you need to avoid making design mistakes. Mistakes we see so called ‘professional web design companies’ making time after time. Pick the right web design agency or in-house personnel and your ROI should be measurable.
We’ve picked out our least favourite web design mistakes, so you don’t need to make them. If you spot something on here that you or your design agency have done on your website, then don’t worry too much, because we’ll tell you how to fix them too!
The mistake: Boring, Stock Images
One of the things you will notice first about a lot of web designs is the imagery used. Images on websites helps to grab and keep the attention of your audience, enticing them to read the rest of the content and ultimately convert. Given that your choice of imagery could define your conversion rates there is simply no excuse for using boring, stock images.
You’ll know the sort of images we mean. The ones that are so obviously staged, that they’re cringy to look at. Here’s a helpful hint: random people in a random office that don’t work for your business don’t create engaging images. They are overused, forgettable and will do nothing but harm your brand image.
The solution: invest or get creative
If you really insist on using stock images, then perhaps consider paying a small fee to get access to higher quality, less used ones. Stocksy (https://www.stocksy.com/) is our go to place right now when we have no other choice. If you’re really on a budget, try better stock image sites such as Unsplash. Just remember that sites like Unsplash are free for everyone so your website could end up looking just like your competition.
For better results, find a good local photographer who can come and take some shots of your team and your business. You can brief them to capture your brand and team’s personality. If lots of your customers are local to you then you could also consider some images of your local area. Again, hire a local photographer or find one and buy some of their photos. To sum up, a small investment here can make a huge difference to the overall feel of your site. It may be cheaper than you think to hire a photographer and once you get over your camera-face, you’ll be glad you invested.
The mistake: No Defined User Journey
Have you ever sat down with your team and mapped out how you hope your customers will interact with your website? If the answer is no then it sounds like you don’t have a defined user journey. This is a bit like asking someone to get from one side of London to the other, but they can’t see what tubes they’re getting on. It’s a bit of a lottery whether a user ends up on your conversion pages. A good web design or digital agency will be sure to map out key journey’s of your different audience types before they start designing. Make sure this is part of your process if you are thinking of a new website or if you need to improve your existing site, pull in your team that interact and understand your audience.
Having clearly defined user journeys gives your website a purpose which you can design and build around. It means you don’t waste any time or space on content that doesn’t help you to achieve your goal.
The solution: understand your audience and plan
Start by creating some customer personas. Invent some stereotypical users, give them a scenario and then put yourself in their shoes. Try and imagine what you’d want from your website in their position. Are they simply looking to learn more about your industry? Then signpost them to your educational content like blogs. Once you’ve shown them a blog, why not see if they’re ready for the next step by offering them a downloadable whitepaper or webinar to sign up to?
By mapping out the steps that different audience types might take on your site you’ll present them with an intuitive and optimised digital experience. The content that makes sense for them to see next will be right where it should, without them having to look for it. If they follow the designed path, you’ll end up with a conversion and more business. If they steer off your path, a well- defined journey will provide plenty of opportunity to get them back on the road to conversion.
The mistake: Slow Loading Times
This is an engagement killer. There are hundreds of studies you can find online which demonstrate just how damaging slow loading times are to your chances of engaging and converting your audience. 47% of people surveyed in this study, for example, expect pages to load in two seconds or less. Users that get bored and frustrated waiting for your site to load are only going to do one thing. Bounce. Now they’re just another wasted opportunity.
Slow loading times won’t just annoy your users, they’ll put you in Google’s bad books as well. Since 2018 speed has been a ranking signal. See the Webmaster Central Blog post at https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html.
The solution: Put the UX first
Big videos, unoptimised images and too much interaction/animation are the biggest culprits we see at Bigger Picture. Put the user experience before creative-led design choices. The majority of time it takes to download a web page is spent fulfilling HTTP requests which load different parts of the page like images, stylesheets and scripts. The more components you have on your page, the more HTTP requests, and the longer your load time. Make sure you check these, remove any that are unnecessary and combine applicable ones together. You can check yours by right-clicking on your website in Google Chrome, going to “Inspect” and then to the Network tab. If you are not a web developer it may not mean much to you, so make sure you get the right advice from you web design and development agency.
You’ll also shave some time off by ensuring your images are properly optimised for the web. Plenty of websites upload images without even thinking about whether they’re correctly optimised. On image-heavy sites, this can slow you down to a crawl. You can optimise images individually or use handy tools like TingPNG. At Bigger Picture we have partnered with IMGIX who have an awesome API that mean all images uploaded via our CMS are optimised, cropped and rendered for the device that is viewing them. We think it’s pretty awesome!
The mistake: General Poor Design
There are a number of other web design mistakes that, for the sake of not keeping you here all day, we’ll group under the umbrella of ‘general poor design’. This is anything that goes against best design practice, makes a user’s task more difficult, or just looks awful. Being a good web designer, or a good user experience designer especially, is not an easy skill. It’s why we make so much of an effort to keep our designers happy – the work they do is hugely important.
To emphasise this point, a study by Adobe found that, given 15 minutes of time, 59% of people will browse through content that is beautifully designed rather than something plain and boring. You may think that sounds obvious, in which case, how beautiful is your content?
The solution: Bigger Picture of course
If you want some help designing a better website, we’ve recently written two blogs on how to create the perfect About Us page and brilliant Home pages. That could be a great place to start. Beautiful design can be a tricky subject to judge because it’s subjective, but if you look hard enough at some well-designed websites, you’ll start to notice the common themes and practices that are present in lots of them. Use this for inspiration.
Other poor design mistakes you can fix easily include simple things like making sure you use Calls-to-Action regularly enough on your site, placing your phone number near the top of your home page, or simply making your contact details immediately easy to find. Again, this is not ground-breaking, but it is remarkable how often it is forgotten.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you some key issues to focus on that will improve the overall performance of your website significantly. Once you’ve nailed the basics and have a well-functioning site, then you can start thinking about taking it to the next level and really elevating your business.
Web design can be tricky, and if you’re not careful these sorts of mistakes are all too easily made. Luckily, it shouldn’t take too much work to rectify them and get back on track. If you want to talk to one of our brilliant web designers about improving your site, or creating something beautiful from scratch, let’s have a chat.