Illustration showing a website error

Your business website is often times the first impression you make with potential customers and clients. It’s important that it not just look great, but it work great too. There are a lot of potential pitfalls you can fall into when you start working on your website, and today I want to talk about some of the common ones I see, and how to avoid them.

Trying to make your content fit into a pre-defined template

Did you see a theme or template online and fall in love with it? So you buy the template, install it on your site, but notice it doesn’t really work with your content. This is something I see a lot. You see something you really like, but then when you put in your content, it doesn’t look how the demo looked.

Let me tell you a secret about these demo sites… they are optimized to look perfect with the demo content. They aren’t optimized to look great with your content. And often times, these are very different. Not every template is going to look great with every type of content. And not only that, it probably won’t be as effective or convert as well either.

When I am building a page on a website, I don’t start with a template because the content dictates how the page should look. What I start with is what kind of content do I have, and how would it be best laid out to resonate with the target demographic?

The content should dictate the design, and not vice versa.

Adding features that don’t align with your target demographic

Many years ago, I had an email from a medical professional who wanted help with their website. In the course of our conversations, the words “cutting edge” were used many times. When I asked to have some context for what cutting edge meant to them, they responded with ideas for animation, possibly gamifying part of the website. I was perplexed about how this would play out on a medical provider website.

My next question was: “Who is your target demographic?” And the response was people 55 and over.

I get wanting to have a website that represents you and your personality, but gamifying a website for a medical provider whose target demographic is people over 55 is not going to resonate with the users of the website.

Remember, your website should be about you, but it is for your audience. It’s okay to have fun with your website, as long as what you do is something your audience will respond to.

Forgetting about SEO

I’m not the kind of person who will tell you that everything on your website has to be optimized for search engines. It doesn’t. But there are a number of things that can be forgotten when people go looking for a design they love and forget about SEO. Here are some things people forget when they are working on their website layouts.

Headings

An HTML heading is a text element used to define the headings or titles of a webpage’s sections. In HTML, headings are represented by <h1> to <h6> tags, with <h1> being the highest level (most important) heading and <h6> being the lowest.

Headings are important for SEO because they provide a hierarchical structure to your content, making it easier for the search engines to understand. I’ve seen many website owners decide to remove headings because they thought it made the page looked cluttered so they removed them.

Content

A picture is worth a thousand words, but only if you have eyes. And search engines don’t have eyes. You have to have some content on your page if you want search engines to find you. This may mean you have to work it into your layout, but don’t let design trump your ability to be found. You need content.

Site Speed

Don’t forget when you design your website, it needs to be speedy, and adding giant images, videos, and other flashy things will slow it down.

Having an Inconsistent Look and Feel

One common web design mistake is when a business owner’s website suffers from an inconsistent look and feel. This issue arises when different sections of the website, such as pages or elements, lack cohesion in terms of design, color scheme, typography, or layout. Visitors can feel disoriented and confused when navigating through the site, as each section presents a different visual style, undermining the brand’s professionalism and credibility. Such inconsistency can lead to a lack of trust and may deter potential customers from engaging further with the business. It’s crucial for business owners to maintain a cohesive visual identity across their website to ensure a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Not only is being consistent good for user-experience, but it’s important for branding as well.

Forgetting a Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a prompt or directive designed to encourage a specific response or action from the audience, typically found on websites, advertisements, or marketing materials. It serves as a guide for users, directing them towards desired actions such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or contacting the business.

Forgetting to include a CTA in a design can be detrimental. Without a clear prompt, users may feel lost or unsure about what steps to take next, resulting in missed opportunities for engagement or conversion. A well-crafted CTA not only guides users but also increases the likelihood of achieving the intended goal, making it an essential element in effective design and communication strategies.

Putting too much content on a single page

For a while, there was one-page website trend, where all the website’s content would be on one long page, and the navigation would just scroll you down the page. I had many people ask me for that type of website, saying they knew it was trending. I always responded: “It’s not trending among people who care about SEO.”

Putting too much content on a single webpage can have several negative consequences. First, it overwhelms visitors and makes it difficult for them to find the information they need, leading to frustration and a poor user experience. Additionally, overcrowded pages can appear cluttered and unprofessional, diminishing the credibility of the website and the business it represents. From a technical standpoint, excessive content can slow down page loading times, especially on mobile devices, which can further discourage users from engaging with the site. Moreover, search engines may penalize websites with too much content on a single page, as it can negatively impact readability and keyword relevance.


You want your website to look good, but you can’t ever let design overrule good choices when it comes to user-experience and SEO. You want your design, your user-experience, and your SEO to work together to create a website that you love, that you customers love, and that search engines love.

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Amy Masson, Web Developer
Owner/Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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