When the Internet first became available to the public, it was easy to get away with a poorly-built website. Back then, you were lucky enough to have separated paragraphs with a clipart picture or two, and maybe even a scrolling marquee. We were all very new to the idea of web design, so even the best wasn’t that great.
Today, innovative technology and years of code construction have led us to an era that makes web development available to any everyday business, regardless of budget or design knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s hard to decipher the good from the bad when it comes to do-it-yourself web design. Some of the most common traps that business owners encounter are the “Websites for Dummies” schemes that make web design skills seem like anyone’s specialty. Sure, a video tutorial or a well-written book can give you the foundational information you need to create your website, but it takes more than that to produce quality, custom web design that generates continuous results.
If you’re one of the courageous business owners who has built and maintained their own website successfully, we salute you and we hope that this small business blog will help you and your site reach its full potential. However, if you paid for your web development – here are several common mistakes that developers-in-training might make, which can be crucial warning signs that you might have a poorly-designed website:
- A-Go-Go is a No-No
If ANY text on your site scrolls or blinks – think twice. This is a very out-dated trend that turns viewers away in a heartbeat. Also related to this: animated GIFs (dancing hamsters) or emoticons (smiley faces that represent a wide variety of emotions and are sometimes animated)
- Grammar Hammer
No matter who wrote your content, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that your words be spelled properly and your sentences are grammatically correct. One small error like this can not only turn your visitors in the other direction, but it can ruin your online reputation!
- The Map is Crap
If a website were a maze (and many times it can be), the navigation would be your user’s only way to get through it efficiently. If you notice inconsistencies and illogical structure on your website, your visitors will, too. Don’t let them get lost, or else they’ll never find you.
- Color Me Bad
Your color scheme should be consistent with your brand or logo. You shouldn’t have a different color for each page or a problem reading text against the background. And remember – a good designer makes any color scheme work, so you shouldn’t have to change your brand to suit their design.
- From Flashy to Clashy
It’s a common trend to use Flash for websites these days; but keep in mind that not everyone’s browsers or mobile phones will support those platforms. Your viewers should always have a choice, and if they don’t want to sit through your flashy intro or download Flash for their browser, they shouldn’t have to. Your designer should know ways to create your design without using flash, or at least be able to provide alternatives to your viewers.
- Music to My Tears
Don’t get me wrong – when used properly, music can help portray the image of your business in the best way possible. But when abused, nobody likes an annoying .midi file they can’t turn off. If you’re going to have music on your site, be tasteful and give your viewers the option to press play. Never force anything upon them – especially not a looped audio track.
- Word Up? Word Down.
When the average surfer scans your site for information, they won’t spend more than a few seconds looking for the keywords that keep their interest. Keep this in mind when you structure your pages – the Internet is about convenience, so keep your descriptions short, so your viewers can access the information they need within a few sentences.
- A Minute To Win It
On the information superhighway, every lane is the express lane. If your site isn’t keeping up, you’re on a direct path to the history pages, where your site is left forgotten in the dust of others. Bounce rate (how fast a viewer visits then leaves) determines your site’s overall appeal – and it starts with how quick it loads. Optimize your photos, graphics, and content to load as quickly as possible, because every second matters.
Every business requires a unique approach with their web design. If you noticed any of the above characteristics in your site, feel free to contact us, and we’d be glad to help you find ways to make the most out of your web design without draining your budget.