Top 5 Web Design Mistakes: the 2014 Edition

These days, to run a business,  you don’t need a physical office or even a dedicated phone line. What you do need in 2014 is a web page. Business webpages have replaced everything from business cards and storefront signage, to stationary and in-person customer service systems. And so, as most of us these days know, smart companies invest time and resources into creating the best website possible.

So why are there still so many web design failures?

In the service of good design everywhere, here are the top five remarkably common design mistakes for 2014—and some simple workarounds.

1. An Outdated Site

Webpages don’t need to be trendy. They do, however, need to be up-to-date. A webpage is the public face of a company. Customers will assume that an outdated website reflects outdated information. They may even think the company has gone out of business.

Workaround: Don’t include images of clunky computers or flip phones. Keep your design bright and contemporary. And be sure, of course, to update your information regularly.

2. The Call-To-Action Is Buried, Or Doesn’t Exist

The call-to-action encourages users to further engage with your business. A gorgeous and compelling website is worthless if it can’t transform a website visitor into a potential customer.

Workaround:  Highlight the call-to-action on your landing page. Perhaps it takes the shape of a form, encouraging viewers to leave their email and request further information. If a form is too complicated, be sure to support users in contacting you. And make your contact information very easy to find. It astonishes how many websites still bury this most important feature.

3. The Site Has No Social Media Component

With the rise of social media, traditional interruptive marketing has been even more fully replaced with the concept of content marketing: attracting customers by developing and curating useful and relevant content. These days, a website without social media is like a car with no wheels: Looks good, but can’t really go anywhere.

Workaround: Start a content marketing campaign tied in to social media. Don’t worry if you have to start small. Eventually, you may want to create a library of content to hand out free to your customers.  For now, social media will help you create a community around your business.

4. The Site Has Non-Responsive Web Design

Non-responsive web design throws roadblocks at potential customers. Faced with technical challenges, they are likely to leave quickly. Moreover, the multiple pages required in non-responsive design ultimately limits SEO, leading to higher advertising costs and lower ROI. Finally, non-responsive design is outdated (see design mistake #1) and viewers may believe the same is true of the business it represents.

Workaround:  Your webpage should respond to a user’s behavior, screen size, platform and orientation. In other words, in 2014, you need responsive web design.

5. A Site Is Incoherent, Inconsistent and/or Cluttered

Far too many websites still throw up incomprehensible walls of text with difficult-to-read fonts. They use slow-loading flash animations that convey no real information. They ignore the value of empty space.

On the other hand, sites may look gorgeous, but inconsistencies in their use of color, font, and tone make them unreadable. If they lack good web-sense—that is, interactivity and smart layout, they become far too easy to surf past.

Workaround: Good graphic design allows your information to both compel and pop.  Take the time to edit closely, asking of every feature: can it be deleted?

Also, remember that designers (and their bosses) get tired. You’ve collated and organized content and spent hours creating quirky graphics. After awhile, no one can see things like a random misspelling of the company name. Ask for help. Fresh eyes will see mistakes and inconsistencies. Moreover, outside experts can bring in new ideas that just may solve intractable communication issues you didn’t even know you had.

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Otreva is a custom software product development company focusing on user experience, responsive web development, & mobile application development.

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