Web design: 5 mistakes to avoid

By George White, marketing practice director

Web design isn't what it used to be. Once upon a time, web design entailed arcane knowledge of HTML, JavaScript, and PHP, along with quaint tools like HomeSite, GoLive, HotDog, iWeb, and a dozen other titles that are now relegated to the shelves of the obsolete software museum.

A lot has changed since then, but unfortunately, many small business owners are still operating under misconceptions about what’s involved when it comes to designing a web site. Here’s a look at 5 common web design mistakes business owners should avoid.

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel

web design mistakes - small business marketing services los angeles

You don't have to love WordPress as much as this guy, but if you give it a chance, you'll probably end up as 'friends with benefits' at the very least.

At one time, web design was the domain of the coders, and a web site was viewed primarily as an exercise in custom software development. But today, virtually all business web sites are built on the foundation of a content management system (CMS). A CMS all but eliminates the cost and expense of custom coding. There are many flavors of CMS, but most small businesses are best served by WordPress, which is the world’s most popular CMS. Unless you have a very specific reason to opt for a different platform – for example, building an e-commerce site – you probably should use WordPress for your next web site.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel, part 2

WordPress is a blank canvas. You can either start drawing from scratch on that canvas, or work from a blueprint designed by an expert. The second option will save you time, money, and frustration by giving you fast access to the critical building blocks that go into a quality site. In WordPress lingo, this blueprint is referred to as a “framework.” There are many popular and proven frameworks including Avada, Builder, Divi, Genesis, and more.

3. Your web design doesn’t need to be a snowflake

A really smart person I know once said, “A web site isn’t supposed to be a work of art –it’s an essential business system.” One common mistake made by business owners is thinking of their web site as an opportunity to make a unique creative statement. Instead, they would be much better served by focusing their energies on developing a tool that’s effective at creating awareness and converting visitors to leads and customers. The best way to do this is to give web site visitors exactly what they want. And they overwhelmingly prefer web sites that are fast, easy, and intuitive to use, contain helpful information about your business, and are kept regularly updated.

4. Falling into the free web design trap

There are several services which offer to let you create and host a web site for free. Some of them even aggressively advertise on television. But why would a company pay for expensive advertising in order to give something away? The answer is simple: they know you can’t really do it yourself, and they want to sell paid services to you. This usually happens after you’ve invested dozens of hours muddling through building a web site on their proprietary system, but hit a brick wall when trying to get something done. You then find out that you can’t easily move all the work in which you’ve invested to any other platform. You’re stuck and have no choice to pay them for help. This is the quicksand business model – the more customers struggle, the deeper they sink.

If you are still determined to do it yourself, you can avoid this trap. Start out with an industry standard CMS like WordPress or Drupal – both of which are absolutely free – and pay for your own domain name and a low-cost hosting account. You can get started for as little as $50 or so for the first year, including the domain name.

5. Doing it yourself

Most small business owners got into their line of business because they have a passion and talent for their product or service. Whether you are a tax preparer, chiropractor, restaurateur, merchant, insurance agent, financial advisor, or carpenter, you love what you do and you’re great at it – which is why people pay you. The highest, best use of your time is providing your products and services to your clients, and keeping up with developments in your business so you can continue to innovate and evolve your offering. Any time you spend doing anything else just isn’t as productive. That’s why you should leave web design to the experts and focus on what you do best.

Are you thinking about designing a new web site or redesigning your current web site? Contact us right now for a free marketing consultation, including an in-depth online marketing analysis of your competition – a $199 value.

Image courtesy Just Hugo