Strong opinions on what is good or bad in web design are not in short supply, but designing a website for your business isn’t just about looking pretty — it’s about the bottom line. After all, your website is a storefront whether you’re selling products online or not. It’s the place current customers visit when they want to engage with you, it’s where you can cultivate new customers, but it’s also where you can lose business if you’re not presenting yourself in the best light. In fact, a few simple web design mistakes could be costing you business.
A 2012 study done by Google and the University of Basel in Switzerland found that users decide whether a website is beautiful in under one second, and that complex websites are seen as less beautiful than simple ones. This follows current design trends today. Websites that appear contemporary are simple, have coherent calls-to-action, and the branding is prominent but pared down. According to Kissmetrics, designs that go against these trends can cause visitors to leave your website. Here are four ways your website may be working against you and what you can do to change it:
Kissmietrics identified content that is updated infrequently is one of the core reasons why web visitors may jump ship. ‘Upcoming Events’ that happened six months ago, blogs that haven’t been tended to in years, and products that are no longer available with no restock date listed are all things that can undermine the professionalism of your site. You don’t want potential customers questioning whether you are legit, so it’s important to keep content up-to-date and to hide your blog from view if you aren’t committed to posting regularly. An added bonus of keeping your content fresh is that it’ll improve your SEO; sites that are out of date are routinely ranked lower than their frequently updated peers.
Fewer pages make for a better experience, right? Wrong. Or, at least, it’s not that simple. While keeping your navigation clean is key for user experience, the way to do it isn’t by cluttering content onto just a few pages. Overloaded pages make for an overwhelmed reader. Including whitespace between paragraphs and in the left and right margins can increase comprehension by almost 20% and significantly improve visitor satisfaction. So keep each page simple, focused, and take advantage of separate landing pages for things like surveys and other complex forms. If you aren’t sure how to cut down on wordcount, consider hiring a professional writer to work with you on your copy.
Pop-ups are one of the most contentious web features today. Everyone wants them on their website, but no one wants to deal with them on other people’s websites. Now, pop-ups can be great if you really do have a big sale going on, a great short-term offer code, or have a regular and well-designed newsletter, but visitors shouldn’t have to wade through three rounds of pop-ups to get to what they need, and they shouldn’t be accosted on every visit. If you use pop-ups, consider only using one at a time and set them so that they won’t show up again for a few hours after a visitor dismisses them. This won’t hide the pop-up from everyone, but it will ensure that a frequent visitor won’t feel like they’re being spammed with the information they already know.
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re in trouble. In August 2017, mobile internet traffic accounted for 42.41% of total web traffic in North America and over 50% globally. If you do business in Africa or Asia, it’s even more crucial to have a site that looks good on a phone or tablet, as over 60% of internet traffic is mobile-based. Don’t freak out though. You don’t have to build an app for your company. Instead, focus on ensuring that your site can adjust to different sized screens without losing functionality. Platforms like Squarespace have this built in, or you can talk to your web designer about cleaning up your mobile experience.
If you don’t think any of these are issues for you, but your website isn’t working as well as you’d like, consider conducting user experience testing. An E-consultancy report found that while 78% companies surveyed wanted to provide a positive online experience to their users, only 55% were actually testing their websites with their users. Instead of guessing what would work, you should be making changes from a place of power by testing any alterations first. With just a few small switch-ups you could transform your website from a liability into a crucial revenue-driving asset.
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