The rise of website builders have made it easier and more affordable for individuals and small businesses to get high quality websites. But being an individual with no technical know-how and relatively little information on what helps to make a stellar website means that many website builder novices run into dozens of common pitfalls and mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s quite true that a lot of people will read review columns and get some good info. See: WebsiteBuilder.com review for one such page. Then novices still end up selecting a website builder solely based on cost, disregarding other concerns and potential pitfalls before diving in. After a hefty review, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top mistakes made by novices, how they can affect traffic and business, and what to do to avoid them.
Not Designing With Mobile in Mind
Not all website builders provide responsive or mobile friendly websites, and as of 2015, depending on industry, mobile traffic can make up as much as 60 percent of a website’s traffic. If your design isn’t mobile friendly, you can write off all those potential visitors as absolutely lost. A responsive website is one which automatically modifies to fit the size of the device which is viewing it, whether a pc, tablet, or mobile. Mobile versions are separate versions of a website which are specially made around tablet or smartphone viewers. Ideally, individuals should select a website builder which provides only responsive templates or themes… rather than one which offers a ‘mobile version’, which can be a lot of work to make and maintain, and are steadily becoming obsolete.
And worse, what if a mobile version or responsive theme is terrible to handle on a tablet or smartphone? Anyone building a website should thoroughly test templates and themes in a mobile environment before selecting them. Having a website that’s difficult or frustrating to use in mobile environments is just as bad as not having one at all.
A lot of novice designers pack a lot of items into their sidebar, everything from social media like buttons, twitter feeds, pictures, and more. And not only are these extraneous plugins and widgets often extraneous things that visitors don’t care about (or worse, find actively annoying), but they can dramatically reduce a website’s speed. And according to some recent studies, each second of slow website loading can represent as much as an additional 11% in increased bounces or visitor drop-offs.
Instead, keep social media presence in the sidebar minimal in the sidebar: keep it in-page or in the footer. Place only helpful items in the sidebar, such as links to your most popular content, search bars, and organizational items.
A number of novice website makers choose complex page background patterns and colored fonts or otherwise outlandish typography, which make for a dismal reading experience, especially on mobile devices. Sure, it might look interesting, but if people can’t read what you have to say, they will leave the site.
A great rule of thumb is not to have patterns or wallpapers behind text except in graphics or headers. For the body of your pages, you should select a dark font over a pale background, and the font should be simple.
This is primarily a concern for websites which have many posts or a lot of pages. How do people get to what they want to find? Are the pages linked in the menu the ones which make the most sense? Can visitors easily find categories, tags, and other important organizational information? Is there a search bar which is easy to find and use?
Before calling your website finished, always have other individuals use your website and provide a review. Use friends and family in a pinch! Give them the titles of specific pages to find, both main pages and older posts, and see what they have to say. When in doubt, link major categories easily in the sidebar or the menu, and in major menu pages, include easy links to related content. Always, always, always provide a search bar either in the menu or the sidebar.
Long Registration Forms
Many novice website builders utilize long or complex registration form design so that they can gain as much information as possible from visitors. And while that’s an admirable goal, it’s frustrating for users, and long forms often result in an increased bounce or drop off rate.
So, don’t ask for a lot of information. Keep your registration forms to two or three fields, tops. You’ll get more registrations, bottom line.
A good website is simple, clean, and easy to use. But it’s very, very easy to make a website which is not any of those things. So avoid the trap of wanting to add more, and keep it simple. When in doubt, seek the advice of others whose opinions you can trust, and get good opinions from users.