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The 11 biggest mistakes made when building a website
Your website is a crucial platform for potential customers to learn about your business and make informed purchases. If you utilise e-commerce, it’s also an essential sales tool to drive revenue.
The integral role a website plays means it needs to be highly effective, positively showcasing your brand and its offering while creating engaging online experiences for your customers.
Despite their importance, many websites contain significant – and often avoidable – mistakes that threaten their success. A simple error or misjudgement can be the difference between converting users into customers or losing them entirely.
We have listed 11 of the most common and biggest website mistakes, so you avoid them when building your business website.
1. Trying to do too much
When designing your website, simple is best. An overcrowded page that asks customers to do countless things leads to confusion.
Although there may be multiple messages to deliver about your business, or actions for users to complete, focus on those that matter most – what are you actually wanting your potential customer to do at this particular stage of the buyer journey? Consider the customer’s perspective and think about what key information they need to know and then you can decide what must appear on each page.
In doing so, you should be able to maximise the purpose of every site page, so it is simple yet impactful. This includes featuring short blocks of relevant copy and a minimalistic design with focused messaging and stand-out calls to action. Avoid over-cluttering, and don’t be afraid of white space.
While simplicity wins, remember it doesn’t need to mean dull. You can still be creative and engaging with your design without having to throw everything at your website – good visuals and strong graphics are particularly memorable for users.
2. Failure to consider user journeys
You always need to think about the website from the eyes of the users, as well as your business. Failure to do so means you risk being unable to meet your prospective customers’ needs, preventing them from converting. 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad or unengaging experience, so getting it right matters.
Focus on what users want to achieve when they visit your website. Customer journey mapping can uncover this by understanding the various points that could lead a user to your business and their priorities when there.
By effectively contemplating the user journey and providing the right level of information and incentives at each stage, you will effectively fulfil their goals while removing any barriers that could force them to go elsewhere.
3. Not testing it
Testing is an integral part of building a website. It is crucial to uncover any issues that could derail the customer experience or make your website unusable.
Many website creators make the mistake of assuming their website works without testing rigorously enough. Every element of your website needs to be checked and multiple pathways considered.
It is recommended to recruit some third-party testers who have no prior knowledge of your website. Give them specific actions to undertake across your website and gauge how easy or difficult they were to complete or if any issues occurred.
With in-depth testing, you can identify problems with your site and the customer experience, allowing you to rectify them before they cause frustration to your customers and disruption to performance and conversion.
4. Not optimising for search
SEO is a crucial source of traffic for any website. It allows your website and online content to rank in Google for the relevant search queries, improving clicks to your website from warm leads who have a reason to be interested in your offering. Poor SEO will negatively impact performance.
Many components make up SEO, including on-page and off-page elements. To make the most of search traffic, you need to set up your website to make it easy for Google to crawl. It is wise to focus on SEO as soon as you begin building a website to create suitable foundations.
It can also take a long time (up to six months) for SEO tactics to take effect, so the earlier you do this, the better.
Examples of SEO measures you should take include:
- Ensuring you use the appropriate keywords across your website
- Utilising meta tags
- Having short and clear URLs
- Maximising website speed
- Featuring internal and external links
It’s equally crucial to maintain good SEO practice over time to ensure you get consistent traffic and positive results, so remember to embody its principles every time you work on your website.
5. Poor navigation
A good website allows you to move around quickly and find the information you seek. An effective navigational menu is critical.
Typical forms of navigation include having headings at the top of your website or a hamburger menu that a user can click to uncover your website pages.
If you have numerous pages, it’s good to break them into categories. For example, if you offer services, you may have a heading called ‘services’ that drops down into pages for each service you provide.
Aim to place page links where a user will expect them as this will make their experience better. Part of this means having clear titles and grouping pages together sensibly. It’s also worth considering where similar websites put their pages (for example, delivery information commonly appearing in the footer) and replicating it.
6. Unclear calls-to-action
Calls-to-action (CTAs) tell users what they should do next. They are crucial to guiding people through your website while nurturing them onto the next stage of their buyer journey. Research has found that 70% of small businesses lack a CTA on their homepage.
Aim to place one CTA on every page. Avoid including multiple CTAs per page, as this makes it hard for a user to identify the route forward.
The CTA should be whatever you want the customer to do next to proceed. Common examples include clicking through to a product range, filling out a contact form, adding a product to a basket or selecting to ‘read more’ about a service.
Once you have selected your CTA, you need to highlight it on your web pages, with text that leads the user there and design features that make them want to click.
7. Not staying up to date
Your business will change over time. So will your target audience. Your website needs to meet evolving needs.
Conducting website maintenance should be a regular task as issues are likely to arise over time. However, it’s also worth auditing your website on a semi-frequent basis to make sure it is still optimised and suiting your customers’ needs.
Updating your website is also crucial to SEO, with Google looking favourably on websites that publish new content. Your search rankings can slip over time, so making changes can enable you to maintain an edge over your competitors and stay on top.
Tracking performance and usage metrics will also flag any problems that suggest your website needs a boost, giving you the insight you need to make necessary improvements.
8. Skipping security features
Another essential of an effective website is security. Some browsers will block websites that don’t have the appropriate security features, which can quickly deter users from visiting.
The security features your website should include are:
- HTTPS and SSP certificates
- Up-to-date software and plugins
- A reliable host
- A secure password for admin areas
- A back-up
- Firewall protection
Poor page security can also affect your page speed and cause loading issues, ruining the user experience and detracting traffic from your website, so make sure yours is as secure as possible.
9. Using poor quality images
A crucial part of your website design is your use of imagery. Users spend an average of 5.94 seconds looking at a website’s main image, so you need to ensure yours is impactful and conveys the best message about your brand.
Aim to use relatable imagery that resonates with your target audience while visualising who you are as a business. Your imagery should also be engaging and fit into your website design while breaking up text and creating a visual appeal.
Imagery also highlights your products. Your goal is to convince customers to purchase, so you need to use high-resolution images that effectively showcase products. A poor-quality image suggests a lack of professionalism and clarity which could ward off buyers.
10. Failure to optimise for mobile
More than half of all web traffic occurs on mobile, with a predicted increase of 25% in the next three years. It’s essential your website is optimised for mobile, or you risk alienating users. It’s notable that 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.
There are many platforms users might use to browse your website. You need to design a responsive website that works across all devices. Images and text will need to scale to fit different screen sizes, and you need to ensure links and buttons remain clickable.
It is worth doing specific mobile testing to review functionality and ensure you offer a consistently excellent experience across mobile, tablet and desktop.
11. Not using internal links
A website should be a hub for users to find out everything they need to know about your business. You may require multiple pages to house all the information about your business.
Alongside the usual ‘menu’ navigation, internal links within text or sub menus are integral to allowing users to further navigate the information they need. By including relevant links from one page to another, you can give customers the option to continue their research and answer any lingering queries. This can extend their buying journey and increase the chances of conversion.
Let’s say you have a page that talks about your business expertise, such as an ‘About Us’ page. A natural internal link might be to a case study page that talks in detail about previous projects you have worked on, allowing the user to learn more about your expertise.
Internal links are also another crucial part of SEO, helping search engines understand what your website is about and how content fits together.
A good website is the key to generating traffic, converting leads, and keeping customers returning to your business. Having one can unlock significant rewards, including increased revenue potential, a better reputation, and customer satisfaction.
However, it’s easy to make an error that derails your results. Most of the mistakes listed above can be avoided with proper preparation and consideration.
By focusing on creating a great user experience, meeting customer requirements, and covering the technical aspects that make for an exceptional website, you can remove any barriers to your success and access the benefits of a high-performing online platform.