The right and wrong approach to website elements

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First impressions count, especially when it comes to websites. If you don’t capture your reader’s attention in the few first seconds you risk losing them. Using design elements the wrong way is one of the fastest ways to drive people away so let’s look at seven common mistakes and how to correct them.

Mistake 1 – Not being customer-focused

It takes time to establish trust and reputation. Yes, your website should showcase your products and services, but you have to do it from the perspective of your customer. Begin by researching your market so you know exactly who your audience is. Have you informed your visitors why they should choose you? It’s good practise to include a link to a FAQ page in your footer and to provide ways for your customers to get more help. Social media and live chat options can be part of the solution.

Mistake 2 – Pop-up overload

There’s a reason lots of people disable JavaScript and browsers now feature built-in adblocking – it’s because everyone is tired of malicious websites and nothing screams suspicious faster than misused pop-ups. The safest use is to have a single pop-up lightbox on your landing page which informs the visitor of your latest unbeatable deal or encourages them to sign up for your newsletter. However, remember to make them easy to dismiss; clicking off the pop-up is easier than trying to find the “X” to close it.

Mistake 3 – Parallax scrolling

One of the latest trends is to have a background that scrolls at a different speed to the foreground content. Done right it is awesome! Done wrong and it is annoying. Ask yourself if the effect is appropriate for the content you are delivering. For example, the BBC often use this strategy for longer, in-depth articles but never for regular content.

Mistake 4 – Distractions

Just because you can do amazing things with internet technologies doesn’t mean you should. Going overboard on bling can actually be annoying. The most common mistakes include background music, background patterns on pages, using hard to read fonts (e.g. fonts that look like hand writing), and animations. While we’re on the topic of distractions, also consider page load time. Most people have given up waiting for sites written entirely in flash to load. The solution is simple: use technology sparingly!

Mistake 5 – No support for mobile devices

In their latest mobile design initiative, Google suggest that as much as 94% of American local search queries come from smartphones. That’s a lot! Sure, visitors can zoom in and out manually but that doesn’t mean they will; they’re more likely to just give up and move on. And if your navigation for your site isn’t optimised for mobile-sized screens they might not even get to the content you want them to see. The best solution is to run your website through Google’s free tool to test whether your site is truly mobile-friendly.

Mistake 6 – Too corporate

Brand is everything. A consistent theme, good grammar, and sensible layout go a long way to showing you are someone worth noticing. But it’s also possible to go overboard. You don’t want to come off as too clinical either. The solution is to present a professional looking website without losing the personal, friendly touch. In fact, the smaller you are, the more you need to show you care! Make sure to sure your personality in your branding.

Mistake 7 – Making it difficult for customers to follow-through

Many websites do a fantastic job of presenting their products and services with gorgeous design and layout. Unfortunately, that alone isn’t enough. You need to do a bit more work to turn potential customers into actual conversions. One of the solutions is to include CTAs (Call To Actions). Make sure buttons are obvious and well-placed. Also check that your links, navigation and shopping carts function as they should. Test them regularly.

Luke Chaffey is a Digital Marketing Specialist with KBB Digital. For advice on Digital Marketing, including SEO services and Digital Strategy, visit www.kbbdigital.com.au

Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.