There is no shortage these days of products and services that help you create your own website. Even for someone with almost no background in the design or IT fields, you can put together a decent-looking, basically functional website in a hurry. If you’re doing something for yourself, your family, or a small group of friends, DIY can be the way to go.
If you’re trying to build a site for business, however, you might want to think twice.
Your website is often one of the first contacts people have with your business … and they judge you and your site almost instantaneously. There are some ways that poor or mediocre web design can be off-putting, causing visitors to bounce right back out. If you have a business and you’re thinking of either creating a new website or bringing your site in-house, you need to be aware of some of the pitfalls: the devil, as they say, is in the details. Here are a few ways a bad design can muck up your site.
It’s important that people see a uniform experience across your website: that means more than just having the logo at the top of each page. Multiple different typefaces and font sizes, changing color palettes, and non-traditional (or worse, inconsistent) locations for expected information: little things that seem unimportant can quickly create a negative impression … and confusion. If visitors get an uncomfortable vibe when they pull up your site, they won’t waste time trying to figure out why: they’ll simply go somewhere else.
Modern software packages tout the ease with which even neophytes can create beautiful sites. Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. Non-designers have a tendency to believe that being “creative” means using Comic Sans as a text font, or tilting a headline to a 45-degree angle. The end result, however, usually ends up feeling less creative and more amateurish. Same thing happens with color choices: the difference between colors that clash and ones that complement each other often involves incremental changes to tone and hue. It’s also important to understand the differences in monitors vs. phones and tablets.
Having numerous graphics and oversized images will show off your products better, and may even be appealing to users … assuming they want to wait around for the pictures to load. There’s a price to pay for going image-heavy: it increases the load time, it can hurt your SEO, and it commonly screws up your site when viewed on a handheld device.
Also, be judicious with your use of stock photography: you may love a shot, but does it really convey the message as clearly as it could? And take a quick look at your competitors’ sites, as well: it’s amazing how many similar companies end up using the exact same (or nearly indistinguishable) stock photos on their respective sites. Plus, research shows that cheesy stock photos can actually rebuff users.
Then there’s the matter of white space. Over-crowded screens that have too much data and too many images don’t just take forever to load—they also make the screen feel busy, overwhelming, and hard to interpret at a glance. Sometimes, less is more: By giving your content a little breathing room, you make your site more inviting, and ensure that the overall experience remains clear and uncluttered.
Ultimately, if you’re in business, your website needs to be designed in such a way as to imperceptibly guide users toward an action: download a sample, make an order, schedule a demo, whatever. That involves design, copywriting, messaging, and calls to action that work together to both make the visitor WANT whatever it is you’re offering, and at the same time creating a feeling of confidence that your business is trustworthy, competent, and professional.
This is just a few examples of the numerous details that go into planning, designing, and programming a robust business website. And the needs and information change on a regular basis: as little as 10 years ago, the web was considered a miracle. Last year, one internet expert made the observation that “The status quo of the Internet Age is unsustainable and increasingly dangerous.” And the changes keep coming: new laws, new needs, new attitudes.
The fact is, you know your business; we know ours … and ours is more complicated than DIY services would have you believe. Especially if you’re wanting to incorporate things like content marketing, SEO, brand strategy, and other elements, you’re probably better off to leave design and development to the professionals. Don’t worry, though; at Spilled Milkshake, we have the experience and expertise to help you get the most from your site. Call us today to learn more.