Web Design Mistakes- Useless Websites
What’s the quickest way to make a new website into one of the many useless websites on the internet? The quickest way to do that is to neglect any planning for your site. Without planning, you are dooming your site to the expanding list of useless websites before you even start.
In computer programming, there’s an old saying, “The sooner you start your coding the longer it takes to finish.” It’s exactly the same for your website. Planning your site before you start the build process is essential to making sure you can identify problems before you begin. It is maddening to get halfway through a website build only to find out that there is a problem that requires you to start from scratch.
A technique I like to use is something I also use when planning a photo shoot. Try using a storyboard to set up your site’s pages prior to actually starting to build it. At the very least create a graphic representation of the pages on paper to show how all the pages will link together. You don’t have to be a great artist to make this technique work. You simply need to be able to identify the many pages of your site, how the menus will be built, etc. To avoid making your site one of those useless websites make sure you don’t skip this step. Yes, it is that important.
If you decide to use the storyboard approach the idea is to use pieces of paper with room at the top for an image, and room underneath the image to write information about the page. Obviously, you will begin with a home page at the top of the storyboard. The home page will usually have the most information about your business. It will be the first page most visitors will encounter when they visit your website. This is the page you need to spend a lot of time on. This is the page that will either entice your visitors to explore your site further to learn more about your business or make a purchase or click out to another website.
Your home page will link to additional pages known as main pages. These will be pages that go into further detail about your products or services. One of these may also be your main catalog page if your site is an e-commerce site for selling goods online.
You may also have additional pages that are linked from each of these pages with further information or services you offer. As you can see, the storyboard or graphic representation of your site can be quite extensive.
Just know that it’s during this process that all kinds of problems will show themselves. That’s the point. It’s much easier to solve those problems now than in the middle of building your site. Once again, you don’t want to run into a problem in the middle of building your website that requires a total rebuild. This wastes both time and money.
Once you have the bugs worked out on paper, you are ready to begin the build of your website. The fact that you went through the process above does not mean you won’t run into problems during the build phase. Those are bound to creep up too. But hopefully you have identified the major problems with the process and you can solve minor problems as they come up.
Another suggestion to help you avoid your site being relegated to the heap of useless websites is to use a professionally designed website template. The small amount you will spend on a website template will pay for itself in time saved during the build phase. Many of these templates have professional graphics that you can use or replace with your own graphics should you have them. I don’t recommend free templates unless you are planning to build a very simple website. They just won’t have the features you need.
Make sure the template you use matches the color scheme of all your other advertising materials. Many professionally designed templates allow you to change the colors of the background, etc. to match your current advertising materials.
Below are some common mistakes you want to avoid. These mistakes will definitely make sure your site makes the useless websites list:
Your home page doesn’t quickly identify to a visitor what the website is about. The attention span of the average web surfer is very short. If they don’t find the information they need within a few seconds of scanning your home page, they will abandon your site in search of the information they need. A typical visitor to your homepage needs to be able to easily see what your site is about, what product you are selling or what you are advertising within about 5 seconds.
Using immediate popup windows or jarring sound that takes away from your message. If you use such things in your design they make look neat, but it will turn off visitors and they will leave your site before you have a chance to show what your site is about. They may have been popular years ago, but today a professional website never uses such tricks to draw attention.
Poor navigation is a killer for visitors as well. This will quickly get your site thrown on the trash heap of useless websites. Broken links and pages with no links are frustrating for visitors trying to use your site. If you click on a link to something you are very interested in and receive a “404 Page Not Found” error, what do you do? If you are like most people you leave that website and find a page that allows you to find the information you are searching for.
Believing that “If you build it they will come”. Your website is one piece of your marketing strategy. However, your website alone will not suddenly increase your business dramatically. There are literally billions of websites on the internet, all vying for the eyes of web surfers. You must have someone who can update your content, work on your SEO to achieve a high ranking in the search engines, work on your social media presence, etc. All these things work in tandem with your website.
Make sure your business cards have your site URL on them. Use your traditional marketing to highlight your website. Create offers that are only available on your website, such as downloadable coupons, and advertise them in your traditional ad campaigns. Use your imagination to drive traffic to your website.
You must make sure your website is mobile friendly or your website will definitely be relegated to the list of useless websites. A large number of users today are looking for information while on the go. They may be in a new city and using their phone to find a business or a new restaurant. If your website is not responsive and mobile friendly, you are going to lose a high percentage of visitors to your site. These days you need a version of your website that looks good on a phone, tablet and computer screen. That’s why many of us today use responsive web templates that can detect which size screen the user has and displays the website version appropriate to the device.
Finally, you should avoid flashy text effects and animated graphics if you want your site to stay off the list of totally useless websites. These types of cliche’ effects were popular 20 years ago but they are simply a distraction for today’s savvy internet user.