It can be daunting to make a website for the first time. You have to deal with many different aspects of design and management like content management systems, graphic design, landing pages, visual branding and many other things that tie into your site. Most site owners start out using templates for the CMS platform they’re using. However, there are still critical mistakes that they make when creating their site. Here are five specific ones that you need to avoid.
1. Not Having a Defined Goal
Too many people try to make a website without having a goal that the website should achieve. Are you planning on building an audience for a blog? Are you trying to acquire leads or generate sales? The goal of the website will determine how it should be designed. For example, if the purpose of the site is to build an audience for a blog, it should prominently feature the best content available and provide options for the visitor to discover other categories of content on your site. There should also be social follow buttons and email subscription options.
If you’re building a site for the sake of building a site, you’ll end up with a scattered mess. You’ll have some sort of content strewn together with a lukewarm offer for a product or a service. What you really need to do is define your goal and create a clear navigation path your visitor should take. There should be some kind of linear progression that leads to your site’s goal.
2. Not Optimizing for the User Experience
While user experience (UX) design is a whole separate category of web design, many site owners make the mistake of ignoring the fundamental usability best practices. You have to ask yourself questions like “how accessible is my site?” and “is my navigation intuitive enough?“ Take a clear look at your site to see if it is well designed for the user. Here are some of the things you should account for.
– Making sure your site is mobile friendly.
– Having a navigation menu that’s intuitive.
– Optimizing for the fastest load times possible.
– Checking to see if your site works well for all browsers.
– Organizing your content to make it easily findable to users.
3. Not Testing for Conversions
Many site owners make changes on a whim. The changes are made based on what looks visually appealing in their eyes. But how do you really know if the changes are having a positive or negative effect on the performance of the website? The only way to figure this out is to test the changes. For most sites, the goal is to convert more traffic into leads and sales. That’s why the metric to pay attention to is the conversion rate.
You can either test one element at a time or use multivariate testing to test multiple elements at a time. This will let you know which combination of elements results in the highest possible conversion rate for your site. The goal here is to come up with a design that is visually appealing AND enhances performance.
4. Not Optimizing for the Search Engines
Even if you’re not planning on using the search engines to generate traffic, you should still implement onpage optimization for your site. This will allow you to pick up some free traffic from the search engines if you manage to generate attention and buzz for content you’ve created. You may also change your mind in the future and decide to get into SEO. Once your site becomes bigger, it becomes more challenging to optimize your site for the search engines. It will become one large project that’ll consume a lot of your time and resources.
To give an example, you’ll have to go back and change the CSS file of your web template. You’ll then have to go each page to make sure the onpage optimization is implemented. Then, you’ll have to change the site structure to be more search engine friendly. Finally, you’ll have to edit the content to make sure the target keyword and related keywords are added.
5. Not Planning Things Through Comprehensively for a Design/Development Project
Many site owners will opt to work with a designer/developer for their new site. The problem with this is that they don’t put in the adequate amount of work into figuring out how to work with their designer. For example, a client should come up with a web design brief to help guide the designer they’re working with. A web design brief is a document that guides the entire design process. It includes all the details of the project, files/resources and references that will help the web designer get a clear idea of what the client wants.
The client needs to put in clear thought into how to align the website with their marketing or business goals. Then, there needs to be a good amount of research done on different kinds of designs in order to form a vision of what the site should ultimately look like. Putting in the work before you start working with a designer will increase the chances of having a successful web project.
As you can see, starting a new site without having the right strategy and approach will hinder your progress. You’ll end up wasting time redesigning your site, spend more money on working with a designer and build a site that doesn’t perform. By avoiding the critical things outlined in this article, you’ll be able to move your new site in the right direction and move towards your goals.