Building a website for your business is easier than ever, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t make a mess of it. Just as if you were a professional web designer creating a site for a client, you have to pay the same amount of attention to detail and quality, if you want a finished product that looks excellent, and performs how it should. There are all kinds of blunders you can make while building your site, but these are a few that you can easily avoid.
When designing your own website, you should NEVER…
1. Attempt to code, when you don’t know how to code.
Attempting to write and manipulate code when you’re inexperienced is a bad idea, as any code professional will tell you. It’s really easy to successfully write a couple of short codes and gain a false sense of confidence, which could prove disastrous. This is something best left to the professionals; so, either use a site-building service that doesn’t require you to write any code, or hire someone to write it for you.
2. Leave dead links anywhere on your site.
We all know how frustrating it can be when you come across a dead link, and especially this link is supposed to display vital information for your visitors, such as ‘terms & conditions’ or pricing information. When you’re building your website, be sure to check, and double-check that all of your links are live and connecting to the right place.
3. Cover your landing page with text.
Every website needs text; the trick is not to overdo it. Have you ever seen one of these sites that bombards you with a full page of text, as soon as you land on it? That’s one of the fastest ways to move a visitor off your site. It feels like you’re reading a single-spaced, college essay, and typically when this happens, the links that a user needs to navigate to are difficult to find. Quality visual imagery should be the primary content on your landing page, using text to complement the visual content.
4. Use tiny print.
When designing and formatting text for your site, think King James Giant Print. Ok, you should try to fit more than 4 words per page, but if the text is too small, it can be very frustrating for your visitors. Put yourself in their shoes, and remember how you’ve reacted to other sites with tiny print. The golden rule in web design is to IMPROVE the user experience, and tiny print makes them work for it.
5. Direct a customer to a “Thank You” page, following a purchase.
This is a common mistake for which you could almost be forgiven. What’s wrong with thanking a customer for their purchase, right? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with thanking your customers, but there is something very wrong with basically encouraging them to leave your site. You can retain visitors’ attention by redirecting them back INTO your site, and they might even buy something else!
6. Pick the first free WordPress template that looks nice.
Rookie mistake. There are aspects of the design process where you can cut corners, and there are those where you just can’t. Your design template, which virtually sets the tone for all content on your site, is not something that you want to choose in haste. If you’re using a template, then it’s a good idea to look at a LOT of different examples, get a second opinion from a colleague, and you just might have to pay for the template.
7. Skip the A/B test because you’re so sure it will perform well.
No matter how perfect you think your site is, split testing will show you how great it actually is—or isn’t. What makes people click your CTA button? Which colors perform better? These are the kinds of questions whose answers you shouldn’t guess at, and the split test is a completely simple way to find out for sure.
8. Fail to demonstrate proficiency in what you’re promoting or selling.
Consider the awful irony of a literary website that is riddled with spelling and grammar errors. The same goes for any type of site, as it is relative to your field of expertise—your website should reflect proficiency in that which your website is claiming you are an expert.
9. Force visitors to wait for excessive loading times, especially on your landing page.
This point speaks for itself, but sometimes when you’re building your site, you find that you simply cannot achieve the fast loading times that you need, which should be, generally, 4 seconds or less. If that is the case, then you should consult with someone who can fix it because people simply do not have the patience.
10. Wait until your site is perfect, before it goes live.
The details are important, but there is a point you will reach when you just have to call it, ‘good enough’ and work out the details on the fly. Anyway, you will find bugs in the system after you launch, and you just can’t avoid that. The point is that, especially if you’re a new business, time is money. While you’re perfecting the smallest details of your website, you’re burning capital when you could be selling product.
11. Fail to optimize for ALL mobile devices.
Here’s another feature that your website just can’t do without. If you use a hosted site-builder like Squarespace, then it will usually be already integrated, but sometimes it’s not. Your customers are looking for you and buying from you on their phones, now more than ever before, and your site has to support beautiful functionality on all different devices.