You don’t have to be a professional designer to have a great-looking website. With the advent of WordPress themes, it’s very easy to find a theme that works well for your purposes while benefiting from all of the flexibility of the WordPress platform. Still, website design is full of pitfalls (which account for the number of subpar websites out there). Here are some classic website design mistakes to avoid when you’re putting together your site:
1. It’s not fully responsive.
Notice that we didn’t say it should just be “mobile-friendly,” because the key here is for your website to reflow to any necessary screen size, from panoramic desktop to the tiniest of mobile screens. Research shows that as of last year, mobile web traffic outpaced that coming from desktops and laptops, so designing with anything but responsiveness in mind is a mistake.
2. It’s too slow to load.
Loading speed is crucial, because with so many different options on the Internet, visitors will click away without waiting for the full site to load. Research shows that anything over 3 seconds could seriously hamper your traffic, and anything over 5 seconds basically means you’ll be losing the majority of your visitors.
3. It’s too complicated.
As you begin to learn your website platform, you’ll likely be inspired to play around and add all kind of plugins and extra pages. All these extras could actually work against your purposes by providing distractions that keep your visitors from doing the basic things you want them to do, such as reading your content or purchasing your products. As you’re inspired to add more features, try to keep in mind that most sites could benefit from being simpler. Think about Apple’s products—their design is lauded because it’s clean and intuitive.
4. It doesn’t state key information above the fold.
This is important for two reasons. First, it’s important to clearly state what you do because it will be helpful to your visitors. We’ve all seen websites that are worded in such a way that it’s impossible to actually tell what they do. Secondly, having clear information above the fold is important for SEO purposes—Google and other search engines have a strong preference for content that’s above the fold and will give a higher rank to websites that display key information higher up on the page.
5. Lack of consistent branding
If you don’t have a full marketing team or at least a dedicated marketing person, it’s easy to have your website end up as a hodgepodge of different design styles. For customers, this may translate into viewing your brand as incoherent. They may not be able to put a finger on it, but in their mind your company may seem less well rounded and this could impact your sales. So, it may be worthwhile to have a marketing professional occasionally look over your site and make sure all your design elements are consistent and work well together.
6. Clunky keyword use.
You know what we’re talking about here. People read a few articles about SEO and come away from that thinking that they need to mention certain keywords and all their iterations as frequently as possible on every page in order to get a good search ranking. In fact, search engines have gotten a lot smarter over the past few years and excessive keyword use rarely works to your advantage. Even worse, it tends to ruin the experience of the customer, leading to lower conversion rates once they do end up on your site.
7. It’s not readable.
Having your own website is not a ticket to go crazy with design. You might love the idea of yellow-colored text on a purple background, but when you have a public-facing website, you’ll have to think about what most people like and find easy to read. There are also accessibility issues related to those with limited vision. Conservative design choices that ensure your content is readable by the widest possible public are your best bet.
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