When you first start a web design project, it’s easy to be enthusiastic. You hae a brand new baby you want to nurture. Your website gives you a 24/7 virtual presence and gives you a chance to build your brand, express your personality and creativity, and showcase your expertise.
Yet many websites fail to live up to expectations. They don’t achieve high search engine rankings or generate much traffic or do much more than act as a reference when someone types in your domain name. Why do small business sites fail? Here are 7 web design mistakes you may be making.
- Office Politics – The biggest obstacle I find to successful small business web design is office politics. A website must have the support of the top decision makers in the firm. And it must meet the needs of each of division of your company. Therein lies a major problem – it’s extremely difficult to meet everyone’s needs without compromising the site. If certain decision makers don’t feel the site is important, feel they aren’t being taken seriously, can’t make a decision on particular features, want everything including the kitchen sink, or decide to micromanage the project at the expense of other stakeholders, there’s a good chance your website will end up in limbo.
- No clear goals – A main reason office politics gets in the way of the website’s success is that there are no clear goals to start with. The best way to create a successful website is to have clear objectives for the project – who do you want to target and what do you want them to do on the website (join a mailing list, download a free report, buy something, call you, etc)? Goals help you evaluate what features you should include on the site and whether the site is successful in the long run.
- No clear leader – The key to any successful project is to have a decision maker who can take charge of the project if it stagnates and move it forward.
- Focus on the firm, not the client’s problem – Most websites read like online brochures. They talk about who the firm is and what the firm does in language that includes a lot of “We” and “Our firm.” Instead, your website should focus on who your visitors are, what brought them to your website, and how your site can help them accomplish their goals. When most people search for information, they are looking for something specific. If they don’t find it in a quick scan of your site, they click the back button. Your site’s job is to anticipate what they might be searching for and offer information or possible solutions. Remember, people are choosing to visit your site. They can just as easily choose to leave. If you already have a website, you can get a free site analysis of how well you focus on your visitors with this We We Calculator.
- No meaningful content – Too often, content is an afterthought to web design. Rather, you should think about content first – what information do you need to include on the site to communicate your firm’s message – and then design around those concepts. People visit your website for the content, not for the design.
- Information is difficult to find – The average web user spends only a few seconds on your page before clicking. If they can’t find the information they need with a quick page scan, you’ve lost them. Your site must be easy and logical to navigate from your Visitors’ perspectives – not based on your organizational chart or your internal divisions.
- Too many bells and whistles – The best sites are quick to load and easy to use. Don’t get bogged down with scrolling text, animations, and a million other features just for the sake of looking cool or technology savvy. Visitors want information quickly. They don’t want to wait for a 30 second animation to load and finish playing before they can access your content.
The biggest web design mistakes involve not providing enough content to make a complete marketing message for your business and not making it easy for visitors to navigate your website to find information. Put yourself in the mind of your ideal target market. What do they want?