You spend thousands of dollars and countless from your marketing budget on a Web site that gets few visits from people outside of your business. This is the unfortunate reality for many small businesses who have taken the time and money to invest in a Web site, but are still guilty of these three basic web design mistakes.
1. Poor Navigation Structure
Understanding how people navigate your site is critical to your Web site’s success in providing information to the user and achieving your bottom line. Make no mistake, poorly structured sites are both obvious and annoying to users. It also reflects poorly on your business and brand. If users can’t find what they need FAST, they’ll go somewhere else. Before you know it, your site’s analytics will start reporting short visit times on your site (0:08, 0:15) and poor navigation structure is the cause. When people visit your site, they are in search of information and they want it fast and simple. A good navigation structure is seamless and manages to keep users on your site longer, which can lead to more leads, readers, and subscribers.
- Group related links. Place links that are most important to the user on the top navigation bar and leave the functional stuff (account settings, copyright, etc.) somewhere out of direct sight.
- Use Breadcrumb navigation to help users understand where they are in the site and how to get out.
- Don’t organize a Web site based on your internal business structure; rather how your target audience wants the information arranged.
2. Writing for Print vs. Web
A huge mistake many small businesses make is taking their information for their site directly from a brochure, business plan or other PRINTED publication. This is deadly to your Web site, because writing for the web is very different than writing for print. Web content is more fast-paced, because users are hunting for a SOLUTION, not a story. The storytelling approach on the web often feels like filler text and slows down the user. Keep your web content brief and get to the point quickly or you will lose your reader.
How to write for the web:
- Write TIGHT. Get to the point quickly.
- Avoid large blogs of copy – you’re not writing a novel or short story. One – to – two sentence paragraphs or fragments are perfectly acceptable.
- Use active voice. Be energetic and descriptive. Use action verbs and strong adjectives.
Users attention span is very short. On average, they spend 4.4 seconds for every extra 100 words on a page. Which means cluttering your site with too much information is deadly to your bottom line. If you’ve seen one site guilty of this you understand exactly what we mean by ‘clutter.’ A website is not a place to dump every single detail about your company. Doing this results in an overly busy page and people simply aren’t going to spend a large amount of time trying to find what they need. Ultimately, clutter leads to low traffic, a high bounce rate and potentially a poor Page Rank.
Basic guidelines to decrease clutter:
- Prioritize your site content based on what is most important to your visitor and potential customer, NOT YOU. Web sites are designed for the user, so it makes sense that you should build it around their needs.
- Distinguish between different areas of content to make it easier for the user to understand and follow through with calls to action. Promotions, e-mail marketing sign-up and employee profiles shouldn’t be all on the same page or area.
- Consider a layered approach. Put the most important info on your main pages, then take the more detailed, in-depth content deeper into your site.
These are three deadly web design mistakes that small businesses make, but there are many more to be discussed. What other web design mistakes can you think of?