Anyone can make a website right?
Thanks to companies like Squarespace the ability to DIY your website is more accessible than ever! However to make an effective website there are still some important things you need to know before you get started.
Most Squarespace templates come with clean, modern designs and fonts which is amazing because it makes the design part easy … but your website is so much more than just your design.
A good website quickly and easily communicates your value and drives sales. Whether it is your navigation, calls to action, or formatting, always remember to keep in mind the experience you want people to have on your website … aka where you want them to go and what you want them to do.
What NOT To Do:
5 Common Website Design Mistakes
1. Stop Trying To Sell
Too often I see websites focus on “BUY NOW.” While your website is a crucial part of your sales process, the main goal of your website isn’t meant to close the sale, it is meant to serve as way to get the conversation started.
When someone lands on your website they are looking to get an idea of what you do and decide whether they want to talk to you. If they want to learn more they’ll spend more time on your website and if you have clear easy calls to action (more on that later) they’ll move through your sales funnel.
Instead of focusing on making a sale, focus on providing valuable content that will help show visitors what you are about and how you can help them!
2. Too Many Navigation Tabs
This has to be the most common mistake I see in novice website design … cluttered website navigation! How is anyone ever supposed to find anything when every link is listed in the navigation menu ?!?!
The function of your website navigation is to tell visitors what is the most important information and where you want them to go. Your web pages should have a hierarchy or journey to them (aka UX or user experience).
Whenever I ask to a client “What are the 3 MOST important pages on your website?” they always respond by listing out all of them. Just imagine going to a restaurant and getting a 20 page menu that isn’t organized. You would be so overwhelmed you would probably walk out without ordering anything.
Keep navigation to 3-5 links tops
Keep folders/drop downs to 3 options max
Try to use 1 word navigation links
What to include in your main navigation
A good start is usually: Services | About | Contact
Don’t include your home page in your main navigation
Organize where you want to drive traffic and categorize/group the most important information
Use secondary navigation for pages like testimonials, case studies, and other important but supporting information
Use summary blocks to group similar information like packages, services, or blog topics
Use folders and drop downs to group information like locations, services/products, etc but remember no more than 3 pages per folder
Use the side bar or website footer for quick links or any additional information you want to share
3. Too Many Calls To Action (CTA)
Just like your navigation, you need to be clear about the most important things you want people to do on your website. Ideally each page has 1 clear call to action that leads visitors around your website.
What does that mean? Simply if the most important thing you want people to do is book a free consult don’t ask them to sign up for the newsletter, read your blog, follow you on social medial, download a PDF, and book a free consult.
When done correctly, your calls to action will move people through your website in an intentional way. For example:
The home page has a “see our services” CTA that links to the services page
The services page CTA links to the case studies page
The case studies CTA links to the free consult page
** Your main navigation clearly says “services”, “case studies”, and “free consult” so people can access important pages at any time but each page’s CTA moves them along the customer journey.
Your calls to action show your clients you understand what they are looking for and make it easy for them to find that information. Remember, the more things you ask people to do the less likely they are to do anything!
4. Not Having Contact Forms or Online Booking
The idea is that your website makes it easy for people to contact your right? Then why doesn’t your website have contact forms or online booking?
In addition to simply being more efficient, when people can take action immediately with just one click they are more like to take action. The more steps required to contact you, the less likely people will take action.
Just image having to leave the website and open your email. You meant to send the inquiry email but once you open up gmail you see an email from your dear Aunt Sally and you totally forgot why you opened your email in the first place.
Or you want to inquire about pricing but there is a phone number on the website and it’s past working hours. You make a note to call tomorrow but then your day gets crazy and reaching out just doesn’t feel as important.
There are so many free online booking calendars there really isn’t any reason not to implement this simple but impactful change ASAP. . Not only will visitors will be able to take action immediately, it will also cut down on email back and forth saving you time and energy.
**If you aren’t sure what online calendar is right for you, my favorite is Acuity.
5. Not Customizing Your Formatting
When it comes to formatting your webpage the key thing to remember is to call attention to the most important information you want people to know. Yes, Squarespace takes the guess work out of designing a modern website but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay extra attention to your formatting!
Most online readers are just skimming the page so when the information isn’t separated into easy to consume pieces their eyes glaze over and they don’t read anything.
I could write an entire blog just on formatting, but here are the most common formatting mistakes that are hurting your website design:
Too many font styles and/or colors
Poor image quality (too big, too small, pixelated)
Long paragraphs that take up the whole page
Too many things on one page (whitespace is your friend)
So what can you do? Here are my website design formatting best practices to create information hierarchy (aka call attention to the information you want people to know):
Keep paragraphs to no more than 3-5 lines at a time
Use headers, bold, italic and bullets to create an easy to read page
Always align paragraph text to the left, center aligned paragraphs are hard to read and look unprofessional
Update and customize your website favicon (that little gray box in the search bar)
Remove the “powered by Squarespace” text from your website footer
By avoiding these 5 common Squarespace website design mistakes, you can will draw people’s attention to the most important things you want them to know and create a more effective website!