Have you ever wondered why your website is not performing, ranking in Google, or driving leads and sales? If you are an entrepreneur with a growing brand or an owner of one of the more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S., you know how vital your website is to basically everything your company hopes to achieve. From marketing and branding to product sales or garnering new members for your services, having an outstanding small business website design should be in your top three goals for your business.
1. Too Much or Too Little Going On
One of, if not the most common design mistakes that businesses make when it comes to their website is a lack of balance between having too much going on that inevitably overwhelms the visitor and causes them to bounce off the site altogether, or having too little going on that the visitor either doesn’t find what they were looking for or begins to view the business as “small-time” or not trustworthy due to lack of page depth, imagery, content, and site sleekness.
Too Much Going On: Cluttered Site with No Balance
Today’s best-designed websites strike the perfect balance of sleek design, modern layout, content, imagery, whitespace, and CTAs to not appear cluttered and overwhelming to visitors.
Lack of whitespace can hurt your site. Modern design trends for top-level pages (main pages) are sleek, image-centric, not overly crowded with content, and easily scan-able. White space is not “wasted” space, and it should be taken into account as a primary and essential element of your website design.
If you feel the urge to load up every nook and cranny of your top-level pages with images, content, and CTAs, think about the website design/store quality metaphor, consider how you place value on the design and layout of a store. High-end stores with trustworthy products have plenty of “whitespace” to showcase the quality of each. The aisles of bargain stores are jam-packed with everything crammed together. Apply this analogy to you design an exceptional modern website. – Bill Ross, CEO of Linchpin SEO, A Chicago SEO Company
Too Little Going On or Not Enough Information (Confusing)
The counterpart to having a cluttered website with too much going on is a website that lacks information, has a bare design, or doesn’t have enough well-designed pages to make the site, and your business, feel legitimate and trustworthy.
Remember, one of the biggest user frustrations is when core contact information isn’t readily easy to find. Your site should have a dedicated “Contact Us” page and contact information on the footer of each top-level page
2. Lack of Streamlined Branding and Imagery
This one is extremely simple and is rare when you bring in the website design pros. Simply put, your color scheme, type of imagery, typeface, content tone, logo use, etc. should be consistent throughout the website. Visitors should get a feel for your brand and not feel like they are bouncing from sub-site to sub-site throughout their journey on your company’s website.
3. Lack of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In today’s digital-first world, it doesn’t matter if you have the most visually stunning, high-tech website in your entire market if no one can find it. This is why although SEO may not be immediately associated with falling under the umbrella of potential design mistakes, having a well-optimized site – both on the frontend and the backend – with great SEO will make the effort you put into great site design worthwhile.
4. Ignoring Major Pain Points: Slow Page Load Speed and/or Lack of Mobile Responsiveness
Today’s modern consumer has high expectations on their digital journey to either make a purchase, vet a company, or simply learn more about that company so they can engage in the non-digital space. If there are design pain-point hurdles with your site such as the page loading too slow for comfort, you better believe you will lose that person’s interest in a matter of seconds to a competitor.
Mobile responsiveness is also essential across all devices when designing or updating your business’s website. Research and data have found that in 2019, more than 60% of clicks to websites from Google searches now originate from mobile devices. There is little more digitally frustrating than a website not optimized to be responsive to a cell phone or tablet and the visitor having to manually zoom in just to find information. This massive design faux pau will lead to visitors bouncing off your site.
5. Lack of a Streamlined Customer Journey Through Design and Information
Using your website’s design and functionality to create a smooth-flowing customer journey that encourages visitors to move through multiple pages of your site while they learn information and are
An in-depth research study conducted by global digital “jack of all trades” giant, Episerver, found that on the average website, 92% of first-time visitors to a particular website go to that website to do something different than making a purchase or sign up for that company’s service(s). The Episerver report, entitled “Reimagining Commerce” found the following concrete percentage breakdown of website visit intent:
- 45% are searching for information about a product or service and clicked through to your website due to its listing on a search engine results page.
- 25% are visiting your site as part of comparison shopping on price or other important variables for your product or service.
- 10% are simply looking for basic store details like phone number, location, hours, etc.
So what is the solution? Simple. Make a list of at least five reasons a visitor would be interested in that specific page (not the site as a whole, except for regarding the homepage). Next, make a list of 3-5 things a visitor might want to do or accomplish on that page. Once you have completed the latter list, it’s time to jump into the next possible mistake that could have your site actively losing potential business hand over fist: lack of good CTAs.
6. Issues with your Website’s Calls-To-Action
When it comes to your website design, even the most beautiful and modern sites need to have multiple, concise call-to-action (CTA) buttons and information capture points. A good call-to-action tells your site visitors specific actions they need to take. There is a fine line between good CTA placement that helps guide visitors on their journey to take a concrete action that further engages them with your brand and just annoying visitors with too many CTAs or too many forms to fill out on an information capture point.
A good rule of thumb is to give visitors a minute or two on your site before the first CTA appears, and keep your required forms at a lead capture point to name and email, with phone number and any other forms being optional.
Remember, your content before the Call-to-action should answer every site visitor’s first question or, “what is in it for me?” then a CTA should follow to encourage them to take an action that will provide some benefit for/to them.
Types of CTAs Include:
- Contact buttons
- “Read More,” “Email Me The Guide” or “Download PDF”
- Newsletter or email signup (information capture examples)
- Click to get a digital coupon, discount code or special online deal
- Information-gathering forms
- Add to Cart
- Subscription signups
- Social media share buttons
- Get help/Online chat widgets
Modern design best practice is to not be afraid to get creative with your CTAs, as a CTA in the same color as the rest of your site that just says “contact us” or “next” with no pre-text is highly un-compelling. This is where your professional website designer is worth their weight in gold. CTAs need to stand out and grab the visitor’s attention. There are stories of websites that simply modified the color of a CTA button’s design and found conversions skyrocketed by over 1 million percent. Professional designers already know the best practices for your site’s CTAs based on your business’s industry that will drive conversions, including color, placement, imagery, and even font.
7. Not Tapping the Professional Website Designers
As mentioned above, tapping a great web designer will pay off tenfold. Think of your website as your first impression on a prospective customer. Research proves that first impressions in the digital space are 94% design-related, making visual appeal extremely important. According to web credibility research conducted by Stanford University, 75% of people admit they make judgments about a company’s credibility based solely on the business’s website design.
By trying to save a little money by doing your web design in-house, you could be setting your business up for thousands and thousands of lost prospective leads and conversions, not to mention sending your bounce rate of visitors through the roof.
Conclusion: Your Website is a Long-Term Investment, Not An Expense
If your brand is a small to mid-sized business, then you should already know how essential investing in a professionally-designed, optimized website is for your business’s digital success and your brand’s impression on visitors. Don’t forget how monitoring analytics fuels the ability to catch design elements that are either working well and can then be replicated on other pages or are not working and causing site visitors to bounce and can be changed to lower bounce rate. If you stay away from these 7 major design mistakes when building or revamping your website, you will reap the digital wealth that a great website can provide your business or brand.