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Guides & Advice

7 common pitfalls when designing a website

By Heath Reidy / July 7th 2017

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Designing an effective website isn’t an easy process. If it was, everyone would manage it. From bad planning to not thinking about your audience, mistakes can easily be made if you don’t make the right business decisions when designing a new site.

With this in mind, we’ve put together seven common business pitfalls (that you should avoid) when designing a new company website.

1. Skimping on initial web planning

A common first mistake when designing a new website is skipping the planning and jumping head first into the design. The idea of creating a new website is fun and exciting. Some companies are tempted to just focus on what they see as the most fun and exciting bits – the design.

The problem with this approach is that there’s a lot of initial planning that should go into creating a new website, before the design work even starts. This includes research into the company’s business sector, target audience and key competitors, and considering the user journey. By rushing straight into the design, you can end up with a site that looks great, yes, but isn’t right or relevant for the business and its audience. The website also might not meet a company’s key goals. For instance, to attract potential customers to a particular product page and encourage them to buy that product.

2. Not considering the content till the end

Another pitfall when creating a website is not thinking about the content till the end of the project. Content is king, or queen, as many a copywriter will tell you.

Illustration of a person asleep at their desk

Amongst other things, it should define the tone of a site, engage the audience, and give key information to encourage people to buy into a service or product. If you don’t consider what content you will produce and publish on a site until the last minute, you can run into different issues. This includes:

  • Not being able to design layouts that best suit content to give the best possible user experience ­– designers instead have to use guesswork and shoehorn content into the page designs they’ve created
  • Not factoring enough time to produce content – pieces end up being rushed, poorly researched and poorly written
  • Not having enough content to fit web pages – pieces are too short to fit a web page design, so more content needs to be written
  • Having content that’s not relevant or engaging – pieces are off topic, aren’t fit for purpose, and don’t match a business and its audience’s needs

3. Not considering the customer

Another common mistake for a business when designing a new website is not considering what’s right for the customer. Instead, company teams make decisions purely based on what they themselves like, rather than what’s important for the customer and what will meet the customer’s needs. For instance, a company might really like some phrasing for a product, but research shows that it doesn’t have a high search volume. Or they might like an image for the home page that’s irrelevant and confusing to their audience.

In business, it can be easy to fall in love with certain products or services you’re selling and grow attached to the work you’ve put into things like your branding. However, all this might mean nothing to your website audience. Not considering your customers can therefore result in a site that they think is unclear, confusing, messy and off-putting, which consequently, turns them away.

4. Not considering the facts

On similar lines, another mistake can be a company making decisions based on their personal preferences and what they think works best, rather than listening to the facts – what the data tells them. This could be insight gathered from Conversion Optimisation (CRO) research like user testing, customer surveys and Google Analytics.

For example, a business team for a new company site might decide to have a strong call to action (CTA) on its blogs page, which takes users directly to a ‘call me back’ service. This is done to allow salespeople to speak to customers directly about the company’s products. However, research might suggest that this approach is too forceful, as the company is new and most people won’t know anything about it. Using a softer approach, like a link to an email subscription form, instead, would be a better option.

Not listening to facts like this can mean you end up with a website that probably won’t meet your aims, such as increasing conversions, improving user navigation and keeping the customer on the page.

5. Being fancy for fancy’s sake

Being fancy for the sake of it is another common mistake when creating a new website – including design elements just because they look good, are the latest fad, and everyone else is doing them. A company team might, for instance, want a certain design technique used on their site, like a full screen video homepage, so they look on-trend. Or they might want to include a design element, like parallax scrolling, just because parallaxing is the latest buzzword.

The problem with this is that such design techniques might not be right for that business. For instance, if 60% of a company’s customer base use mobile phones to access its site, then a full screen video homepage probably won’t be a good choice. Also, the fancier a website is, the longer it will take to load. It’s therefore important for a business to think sensibly – what the customer needs and what will give them a good user experience, like a fast loading speed – rather than fancy i.e. what is aesthetically pleasing to them. With this way of thinking, you can create a website that is fully effective and delivers on all levels.

6. Leaving SEO until after the website is built

Once a website has been built and the final tweaks have been made, many companies then, at that stage, contact an SEO specialist – asking them to ‘SEO it’ to make sure the site ranks as high as possible online. However, this can make things more difficult – ideally, SEO should be considered as early on in the planning stages as possible.

Illustration of people looking at a website plan and also a screen showing monthly visitor figures

This will ensure your site is optimised to appear for the search terms your customers are searching for. It will also help avoid costly changes having to be made after the website site build process has finished and the launch date has passed. Our guide about how soon should you start SEO when building a new website explains in more detail the benefits of considering SEO asap.

7. Seeing the website as a finished product

Finally, many businesses see a website as a finished product – once it’s created and live, their work is done. However, a website is never finished. It should constantly change and evolve. Creating a site is only the beginning if you want it to be (and continue to be) fully effective.

A website might tick all the boxes at the start. But if you then stop working on it, it will soon become out of date and irrelevant to your audience. Sales of your products or services might increase at the beginning but then plateau, due to you not working on site areas that CRO might show could be improved.

For this reason, a company shouldn’t view a website as a finished product. There’s always room for improvement – whether that’s updating content, improving site navigation, or optimising the customer journey.

Avoiding pitfalls to design the right website for you

From skipping planning at the start to thinking a site’s finished when it’s gone live, there are many common mistakes that can be made when designing a new website. So it’s wise to have the right tools, knowledge and expertise in place to make sure you avoid these pitfalls and end up with a website that’s right for your business to bring you the right results.

With our proven planning process, we’d love to explore how our website design and development team can help you avoid these pitfalls to deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.