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11 Common Mistakes That Rookie Website Designers Make

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Please understand that we never want to belittle the effort of others. For many businesses, the lower costs that come with using a website developer who is not already experienced, or a DIY approach, are the only option for building their first website. But some common mistakes can kill the effectiveness of your website and decrease your chance of online success.

Armed with our checklist, you can avoid the most common website design mistakes that will cause a loss to revenue for your business.

Here are the most common website design mistakes that we see:

  1. There is no phone number in the header
  2. There are social media icons in the header
  3. External links open in the parent window
  4. There is no call to action on the home page
  5. Request appointment forms are simply contact us forms
  6. Logo images are not crisp
  7. Hero images are not high resolution
  8. Images are not optimized for web
  9. The website is not mobile-friendly
  10. Page titles and meta descriptions are not set properly
  11. No analytics are installed

Print-Friendly: pdfWebsite Design Checklist

That's the quick list, and if you want to know more about the importance of each one of these checklist items please read on.

1. There Is No Phone Number In The Header

This could potentially be the worst mistake that you can make when designing a website. If you think about the diversity of potential visitors to your website, and personal preferences, then it makes sense to have your phone number prominently displayed.

Some customers simply prefer to talk by phone when considering a new service provider, and their first instinct will be to give you a call. If it's hard to find your phone number you might not get that call. The phone number can be hard to find because it appears low on the page, or because it is only available on the contact page.

But a bigger issue may be at hand. Google reported in 2016 that over 50% of all searches on their search engine came from mobile users. Adding a phone number at the top of all pages makes it easy for phone users to call you and inquire about your service offerings.

When adding your phone number, be sure to use the tel: schema as detailed at https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/native-hardware/click-to-call/ so that mobile users can click to call.


2. There Are Social Media Icons In The Header

Having a complete presence on the web is important, and we definitely recommend that you create and grow your social media presence. For some business ventures, social media might be the most productive way or marketing your products or services. However, the social media channels are typically used to direct users to your website, not the other way around.

If you place your social media links at the top of your pages users are more likely to click and leave your site. Let's face it, people like to spend a lot of time on social media. But if you direct your website visitors there you are increasing the chance that you will lose the prospect to some interesting distraction.

Showing that you have a social media presence may be important to converting some visitors to customers but best practices are to place those links in the footer of your pages.


3. External Links Open In The Parent Window

You'll have to work hard to get visitors to your website. Once they arrive, the goal is to get them to visit as many pages as possible because this increases the likelihood that they will reach out to you to learn more about your services.

It's a pretty common practice to link to other content from your website. For example, you might be a member of an association that gives your business credibility, and you will certainly want to let prospective customers know about this. You might add the organization's logo, and link to their website. Just be sure that this link is set to open in a new window, or else you risk that the user might never return to your website when they click the link.

The HTML code you need to do this is 'target="_blank"', detailed at https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp.

One note- never open internal links (links to your own website) in a new window, these should all open in the parent window.


4. There Is No Call To Action On The Home Page

When a new visitor arrives on your home page, you have only a few seconds to capture their attention and to get them to take some next action that you want to occur. If there is no good indication of what a user can do next, you're likely to lose them and have a "bounce". Simply defined, a bounce on a website is when the user goes back in their browser to wherever they came from.

Effectively designed websites will funnel users to some desired outcome. That might be placing an order, requesting an appointment, signing up to receive more information, or other goals that you have established.
If you don't make it obvious to visitors how they can take the next steps when they arrive on your home page, then you will decrease the effectiveness of your website. Take some time to research what makes an effective call to action, and implement it on your website.


5. Request Appointment Forms Are Simply Contact Us Forms

Let's suppose that one call to action you have established is for a user to request an appointment with your company. The simplest approach to let users that prefer to fill a form in to direct them to your contact form. But is the contact form setup to get the information that you need to effectively set a meeting?

If you are a home services provider, you might want to know about your prospective customer's availability or about the services they need. By creating a specific appointment request form you can ask the most important questions up front, and be better prepared when you call to book the appointment.

Don't overdo it, with too many intake questions. You might alienate a prospect because your form is too difficult to complete.

When executed properly, you will find that a well designed form increases sales prospects. In some cases it might even prevent the prospect from shopping your competitors because they have confidence that you are a good fit for their needs based on the questions you ask.


6. Logo Images Are Not Crisp

If you don't have a professionally designed logo it might not look good when you place it on your website. Sometimes a larger image that is scaled down can have a poor appearance, and in almost all cases a small image that is scaled up will not look crisp. And if your logo image does not have a transparent background then it might be hard to make it fit in well with your website design.

Professional logo designers will send your logo in a variety of file formats to be used in print, web, or other uses. They will also send the original art in AI or EPS format. These are the vector versions which can easily be scaled and exported to the proper format for your website.

If your company has a professional logo but you don't have the original art files, check with your printing partner. More often than not they have a copy.


7. Hero Images Are Not High Resolution

A hero image, or banner image, is the large image that appears on the home page. There could also be a slideshow that uses multiple images.

Like the logo image, if the hero image is not large enough then it will look distorted when it scales up for visitors with large monitors. Then too, a poorly shot photo won't look good regardless of its resolution.

If you need better images for your home page but can't afford a good photographer, you can license stock images from many providers like https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ or others. As a general rule, license images that are 1600 pixels wide or larger.

A word of caution about selecting images for your website. If you use a search engine to look for images, many that you find will not be licensed for your commercial use. Always be sure to check the usage rights for all images you place on your website to avoid having the copyright owner seek damages from you for improper or non-licensed use.


8. Images Are Not Optimized For Web

While your images must be large enough to look good on your website, originals that you license or photos that you have taken will likely be very large in terms of file size. This can slow down your website loading speed.

Images that are optimized for website usage have the smallest file size possible while still maintaining an optimal appearance. In general they will be JPG, PNG, or SVG file types.

You can use image editing tools like Photoshop to create optimized images for your website. Or there are a number of online tools like http://optimizilla.com/. In some cases, your website content management system may allow you to optimize images on the fly as they are uploaded to your website.


9. The Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly

As we mentioned in the telephone number information, many users will visit your website on a mobile device. If your website is not mobile-friendly these users will find it hard to read and use your website and you may not gain a new customer.

Today's standard for optimizing your website for all users is Responsive HTML. Responsive websites adapt to the user's viewport (screen size), and present the same design in different ways to fit the viewport optimally.

You should test your website to make sure that all users have a good viewing experience. Use https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly to test the mobile view generally, or https://www.browserstack.com/ to test against many different devices.


10. Page Titles And Meta Descriptions Are Not Set Properly

Often the page titles on a website use default settings that should be edited. For example, the default page title for the home page is "Home". And by default, there is no meta description set for any pages on a website.

Search engines use the page titles and meta descriptions when they display search results, assuming that they are set properly. This gives you control over how your listing appears in the search engines. It can also be a factor in search engine optimization (SEO).

There is a comprehensive guide from Moz at https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo, and in Chapter 4 you will find all the information you need to know about setting these items properly.


11. No Analytics Are Installed

Website analytics allow you to see how visitors use your website and are critical to refining your website for optimal performance as it relates to customer acquisition. We have a post that discusses the importance of analytics at https://www.bcswebsiteservices.com/Blogs/the-importance-of-using-analytical-tools.html. The post also tells you where to get analytic tools for your website.

Many analytic tools are available at no cost, and installing is as simple as adding a snippet of code to your web pages.


Use the above guide to make sure your website has the best chance of working for your business. If you have any questions or need some assistance, please contact BCS Website Services and we'll be glad to help.

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