As an entrepreneur, you are a self-starter by nature, but sometimes relying on that trait too much can trip you up. For instance, an important part of building a business is creating an appealing website, and the plethora of website-building tools such as Wix and Squarespace tout “professional DIY websites” and reinforce the prevailing entrepreneurial mindset. These tools can absolutely simplify some aspects of creating a website, but they barely scratch the surface of the skills and experience of a professional web developer or designer.
Developing a Website
Developing a website is important because it's integrally connected to brand perception. According to a Missouri University of Science and Technology study, users form a first impression in less than two-tenths of a second. In addition, 75 percent of people judge the credibility of a business based on its website design. The first impression of your website can make or break your business, so it’s vital to launch one that’s clean and professionally designed.
The reality is that it takes a special creative quality to build a well-designed site, but it also requires a deep understanding of e-commerce marketing and messaging. Split-testing allows for a website’s design to be optimized to increase conversion rates, but this is only one piece of the puzzle.
How to Avoid Common Website Hiccups
There’s more to designing a website than uploading pretty images, but critical aspects such as messaging, user flow, site architecture, and usability are often overlooked. Fortunately, there are many tools available to help determine how users are navigating your website. Armed with tools such as basic analytics reports and eye-tracking and user behavior software, you can identify the best location for a call to action, which fonts result in higher conversion rates, and much more.
Common Design Mistakes
Here are some common design mistakes to watch out for on your own website. If you notice any of these, you’re undoubtedly missing out on conversions:
1. Creating decision paralysis
Decision paralysis occurs when a customer is overwhelmed by the number of possibilities available. You might think that more options will make people happy. Instead, it makes it tougher for customers to decide and makes them more likely to regret their choices.
For e-commerce sites, this problem might stem from poor category development or product segmentation. You might also be providing too many offers on your homepage that quickly overwhelm the potential customer. The cure is simple. First, break your target audience down into user segments, and then deliver information to these segments more strategically. For example, instead of giving pacifiers to everyone who visits your store, offer them only to parents with infants or expecting mothers.
2. Utilizing low-quality assets
Pretty pictures aren’t everything, but imagery is still a large part of website design. Consequently, low-quality or irrelevant images will immediately turn prospects away.
Don’t worry if professional photographers or other artists aren’t in your budget. One of the best ways to secure high-quality assets is to solicit members of your target demographic to upload photos to their social media accounts. Encouraging this type of engagement will also have the added bonus of building an audience of loyal followers.
3. Putting vital content below the fold
Just like a newspaper, the most important content on your website needs to be placed at the top. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of putting essential items below the fold where the initial screen loads, whether it’s a CTA or valuable video content.
For an example of proper CTA placement, check out Chili Technology's homepage, designed by my digital marketing agency. A big red button is immediately visible that directs users toward the main product area. There's no question about where viewers' eyes are supposed to go, making the content placement effective and enticing as a CTA.
4. Designing exclusively for desktop
More and more users are accessing websites from mobile devices, but mobile users have higher bounce rates and fewer page views. To have a decent shot at converting these prospects, you need to optimize your website for the smaller screens and capabilities of mobile devices.
A frustrating experience on a mobile device will certainly steer prospects away from checking out your site on a desktop later. To avoid this, make sure menus are still visible when viewed on a mobile device, and ensure important buttons are on-screen and big enough for users to click. No-hassle scrolling can also make a huge difference for users.
5. Slow site performance
If your website is full of non-optimized images and other large files such as self-hosted videos, it will load slowly and have a negative impact on your conversion rate. In fact, 40 percent of users will abandon a website after waiting more than three seconds for it to load. That gives you no time to waste.
When looking at metrics across e-commerce websites, an Aberdeen Group study found that even just a one-second delay in page load time causes the number of page views to plummet by 11 percent, customer satisfaction to decrease by 16 percent, and conversions to drop by 7 percent.
To avoid this slowdown in the consumer experience, check out a tool such as PageSpeed Insights to measure your website's mobile and desktop performance. It can help you look for areas that are slowing you down and costing money.
Fully embodying a DIY attitude is a big advantage for an entrepreneur, and it's savvy to undertake projects outside of your realm of experience — like designing a website — in an effort to stay lean and keep costs low. But...
Overlooking the above areas will put you at risk of having an inferior site that costs more in the long run. Remember, your website is one of the most important aspects of your business to get right the first time. Especially if you’re operating an e-commerce business, it might be wise to leave this project to the professionals.