Building Your Own Business Website? Don’t Make These Design Mistakes

Apr 1, 2020

If hiring a pro to build your business website isn’t in your budget right now, taking the DIY route and making a website on your own (or maybe getting the most tech-savvy person on your team to figure it out) might seem like a better option.

I mean, looks easy enough, right? Write some text, throw in a few pictures, then put it all together using a free template and wa-la – you’ve got yourself a website!

And while it’s true that almost anyone can make a website these days, the problem is that a design with too much going on, bad font choices and poor spacing makes your website unreadable and can lead to higher bounce rates, meaning people leave your website after viewing just one page that they probably didn’t even read.

Your website can be a pretty important part of your marketing strategy if you do it right, so you need to create visual designs that grab and keep your audience’s attention.

To help you out, here’re the top five common design mistakes I frequently see non-designers make on websites, plus small tweaks you can do to fix them.

Are you making these website design mistakes?

Too wordy and no visual hierarchy

Huge blocks of text can be intimidating so make it skimmable, otherwise nobody’s gonna want to read what you have to say. Visual hierarchy on the other hand, organizes your content and graphic elements so website visitors can easily determine what to read first.

How to avoid it:
Break up long paragraphs of content with attention grabbing bullet points, quotes or visuals to make your text readable. Using the right header tags (h1, h2, etc.) help differentiate the headings from the rest of the page. Usually, the larger the header, the more important, making it easier for people to scan content quickly. Plus, it’s good for SEO.

Bad color combos and hard-to-read text

Your content needs to be readable so watch out for clashing text and background colors or using text on images. Picking the right colors that work is key because we’re way past the Geocities days – no one wants to see busy backgrounds with text in all colors of the rainbow. Less is definitely more.

How to avoid it:
Use tools like Adobe Color to help you find color palettes that complement one another and will provide enough contrast when you overlap colors in your design. If you’re using a background image, try adding a color overlay with text of a contrasting color to make it readable.

No white space

White space – aka the empty spaces on a page – creates balance and flow to your design and helps drive your audience’s eye to it (basically like visual breathing space for your eyes). As much as you want to fill it, squishing text and images into a small space makes it look cluttered and overwhelming so make sure to inject white space in your design.

How to avoid it:
Design layouts that are easy on the eyes and organize your content with more space between the headers or emphasizing certain elements by playing around with the amount of white space around it to eliminate distraction.

Low quality images

Truth is, compelling copy isn’t enough. Pair it with good photography that gives you an extra edge in highlighting your business personality. Using blurry, pixelated or low quality images will stand out in a bad way, making your business look unprofessional.

How to avoid it:
Do a quick photography check to make sure you’re using clear, good quality images and invest in stock photography or a professional photographer. Editing images in graphic programs you’re not too familiar with can be tricky, especially if you end up stretching it in a weird way or scaling it unevenly that ends up looking warped. To avoid warping images, click and drag the corner of the element while holding the shift button to increase the size proportionately.

Designing based on your personal preference

Here’s the thing: your website isn’t about you and what you like, it’s about your ideal audience. Your personal preferences don’t matter when it comes to designing for your business (ok maybe it’s at the bottom of the list because your opinions do matter) so catch yourself when you’re making choices and giving feedback that’s personally motivated, like picking your favorite color combos or doing something simply because others are doing it.

How to avoid it:
Always start with research and keep your ideal audience in mind during the design process. Think about who’re you designing this for? What do they need to achieve? How can you help them achieve that? Whether that looks like conducting an audience analysis or a brand audit, there’re things to consider first before weighing in with your personal preferences.

Design with your ideal audience in mind

Building a website isn’t always as easy as we think – it’s going to be a project that’ll take a lot of time (and time is money!). So when you’re DIY-ing it, you need to make sure it keeps your visitors hooked, it’s easy to navigate and provides the right calls to action to drive sales and make you money.

If your website visitors are getting lost trying to figure out where to go or can’t easily find what they’re looking for, then you might want to think about working with a web designer to help take your website design to the next level. Let’s talk if that’s an option you’d like to explore.

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Hi, I'm Kat

Hi, I'm Kat

I’m a web designer and mad strategist from Hawaii, but most importantly, I like mixing clear messaging, good design and an even better user experience to help small businesses infuse their personalities into a profitable online presence.

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