Designing a website can be a tricky thing to do, no matter what the size of your business is. Your company website is the shop front to everything you offer, from your products to your services.
And in a modern digital world where the way you and your brand look is more important than ever, the pressure is on to stand out against the crowd.
When we redesigned our website back in 2018, we had built up a solid list of customer and peer feedback on how to improve it. From design to usability, it was an enormous help and with additional research, best practice and an award winning digital agency on board, we were lucky enough to produce something that better suited our brand image and our customer expectations.
Of course not every company has access to this kind of constructive feedback and speciality support, which is where articles like this one can come in handy – because really, when it comes to web design, the best and easiest thing to do is to ensure your site steers clear of the common mistakes.
But what exactly are they?
The best and easiest thing to do is to ensure your site steers clear of the common mistakes
Just like in the movies, the call-to-action is what drives the response you’re looking for. Users want to follow a clearly defined journey which ends with a desired result.
In the case of most service website, the desired result is a conversation with someone at the end of a phone or email. The user has a problem and you are the solution, so help them reach that quicker by providing clear and consistent call-to-action buttons.
Of course not all call-to-action buttons need to shout out “Contact us now!” because not all users are ready to dive right in at the deep end. The customer buying cycle, which sets out a logic journey that most users subconsciously follow – from research down to purchase, highlights how informative information is key to influencing a buyers decision.
If your website lacks they key information on what you can offer and examples of what you have successfully offered in the past, it’s lacking that convincing type of content that a user is looking for.
As a tip, content should aim to fall in a least one of these categories; educational, convincing, inspiring or entertaining.
Call-to-action buttons can also consist of statements to “Find out more information”, “Sign up for a newsletter”, “Download a service brochure”, “Read more about our past installations”, “and “Find out what our previous clients have to say”.
Lack of analytics
A system like Google Analytics is free to use and while it may look complicated at first, all you really need to know if how many users you’re getting a month and what pages are gaining the most traffic.
Of course there is so much more to learn and proper use of analytics tools can provide invaluable insight, but if you don’t have the time and the resource, getting the bare minimum information shouldn’t be shrugged at.
If your homepage for example gets 100 hits a month but your contact us page only receives 5, obviously the content is unclear and the call to action buttons you are displaying aren’t bold enough or in the right place. Either that or the link is broken which need to be rectified immediately.
Where’s the contact info!
There’s nothing more infuriating than being led down a path towards a dead end. For web users the dead end can often be the lack of contact information.
Personally, I will always prefer to send an email, so if only a phone number is listed I might look elsewhere. This is also true of systems such as enquiry forms, if they’re too long it can be extremely off putting.
Only ask for the information you really need to know and let the user know the timescale of when they can expect to hear back from you. It’s also a good idea to add your company address and the locations you operate in.
Users are also more in tune with looking for company registration numbers and that’s because authenticity and legitimacy have become key requirements when making a purchasing decision – we only want to deal with trustworthy suppliers.
The mobile user
Did you know that 49% of web users prefer to browse on their phones? This means that having a mobile compatible website is a must!
In fact, along with the dead end journey, treading an uneven path which is cumbersome to navigate will lead to users giving up.
If your site isn’t mobile compatible it will feel almost impossible to use on any device smaller than a laptop and it won’t look professional either.
A mobile adaptive site is now an expectation.
One of the most common reasons a user will abandon a site is speed.
Unfortunately this problem can be down to a number of reasons but essentially it forces you to have a clean, minimal, clutter free website, so it’s best to avoid bolting on more pages than you need.
Remember your website should have an overall objective, for example, most businesses want their websites to generate leads so make sure your site is simple enough to achieve that.
As you can see with this article, I’ve used subheadings to break up the content, help you read it faster and focus on the key paragraphs that are important to you.
Using this type of structure is much more user friendly than a wall of text.
In addition to that, use a clear font (the most trendy font available is called Helvetica) and a decent character size.
What’s on the menu?
I’ve rambled on a lot about clear navigation and the typical website frustrations, but the top menu is the backbone of your website, and as with all backbones it needs to be strong.
The menu should be made up of the main navigation sections of your website, they should use easy to understand language (no more than 2 words) and not overwhelm the user with choice (no more than 7 tabs ideally).
Nowadays, with more websites catering for mobile first, a lot of menus can be found in the ‘hamburger’ style which consists of 3 horizontal lines placed on top of each other (the bun with the burger in the middle).
This simple design entices the user to click in order for a more detailed menu to fall down.
Ellina Webb is Marketing Services Manager