I’ve made them all.
Yep, those 21 mistakes below, I’ve made them. And then I learned from then.
And to make sure you don’t make them, I thought I’d let you know what they are! Skip the non-professional looking websites and go straight to awesome-looking websites! Because honestly, people do judge by the cover. And if your cover sucks, you’ll turn away potential clients before they even start reading about you and your company.
A good looking website also helps build trust, which is absolutely essential these days. Would you give money to a stranger thinking they’ll give it back to you? Nope. What about a close friend, though? Totally!
Well, the same thing applies to business. If you look like you can be trusted and that you’re worth every penny people will invest in you, they’ll be more willing to buy.
So stop building your website and take a few minutes to go through this list and see which mistakes you’re already doing!
1. They pick the wrong platform because it looks easy instead of going for the right one, which looks scary and overwhelming.
If you don’t need more than a 5 pages website to showcase your portfolio and have potential clients contact you by emails, SquareSpace and Weebly can do the job. But if you want to grow, and want to scale your website with you, WordPress is your go-to platform. I know, I know. But it looks scary and complicated and hard to learn, and…
Except that taking the time to learn it might actually make a huge difference in your business. Because you’ll be able to do everything you want. You’ll be able to customize your website to fit your needs. You’ll be able to create a store, a membership section, a course, etc. Whatever you want to build, you can do it on WordPress.
2. They go for the free themes because they think they don’t have a budget.
Lady, the difference between building a website that is super easy to manage and customize compared to a website you’ll want to pull your hair off and will hate within a week is $70.
Like, honestly. There are some great themes out there that come with a customizer and front-page builder, which lets you modify everything without learning a single line of code. But you have to spend $70. Is that really too much, compared to your sanity? I think not…
3. They don’t set goals before they lay out their website.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but picking colors or fonts is not the first thing you should do before building your website. You have to actually sit down and think about your ideal client. What do they want to see? What do they want to know? What are you selling them? Should you focus on selling, or should you focus on your mailing list? Yup, there’s a lot to think about.
You know your business more than anyone, so you’re the only person who knows how to answer those questions. But the one thing you have to keep in mind is that it’s about them (your ideal clients) and not about you. It’s not because adding three pictures of you on the homepage sounds pretty that it’ll actually convert into paying client.
Having an end goal in mind when building your website is as important as having an end goal when building your business. You gotta know where you’re going.
4. They don’t make it painfully obvious what their business is about.
If you’re not sure about this one, ask strangers! Join a Facebook Group (if you don’t know where to start, feel free to join mine!) and ask away! You’ll get strangers who don’t know anything about your business try to guess what you’re doing. If they don’t get it within 3 seconds, then you need to change your homepage.
Try out one of my favorite tool out there: Peek. It’s free and you can get up to three videos per month 🙂 So send them your URL, someone will visit your website and give you their opinion in a 5 minutes video. (Warning: sometimes they spend 5 minutes rambling and not giving you much feedback. It happens. Just get a second video! Eventually, you’ll get good feedback!)
And what if nobody figures out what your business is about? Change your homepage to make it clear. Like, clear to a five years old and your grandma. If you can’t explain it to them, you can’t explain it to your potential clients.
5. They don’t set a clear path for their users.
There’s no easier way to repel potential customers than to let them get lost on your website. If you don’t tell them what they have to do when they land on your home page, they might stay and look around, but I bet they won’t buy from you. If you give them a call to action that leads to one of your goal (getting them on your list, having them look at your prices, etc.), they have a high chance of actually doing it. Way more than if you just let them poke around on their own.
It’s super important to keep track of what your users are clicking on, and in which order. This will help you understand their behaviors and adjust to their needs. Can they find your “About” page easily? Can they find your pricing easily? Can they book easily? You want to make the process of buying from you as smooth as possible, while removing all distractions.
6. They don’t have Calls to Action on their website
You know, those “Buy Now”, “Learn More”, “Yes I want in!” buttons all over other people’s websites? They’re calls to action, because they make you do something. You’ll click on it, add your email address, go read something, etc. When you know what your goal is, place buttons or other calls to action in the right places on your website. Otherwise, your potential client won’t know what to do or look for, and might just leave without contacting you, learning about you, subscribing to your list, etc.
7. They have too many menu options
If you have over 20 pages that people can reach from the main menu, maybe rethink your strategy. Which pages are absolutely essential? Can you combine some of them? Pick you top 10 (or less) and use only those. Otherwise, a potential client will come to your website, visit all those pages and get lost. Try to make your information as compact as possible, so that they can know everything they need to in the least amount of pages.
8. Their content is about them, and not their ideal client.
If all you’re talking about is your dog and how many programs you went to at university, it doesn’t help a potential client know what you do and how you can solve their problems. Keep your website’s copy about your ideal client, and how you can help them. Otherwise, you’ll just make them turn away as fast as they came to your website.
9. They clutter their website with useless information.
Your website should have one goal, or at max two. If you want your visitors to like your Facebook page, subscribe to your mailing list, buy a product and leave a review on Twitter, you’re sending them a mixed signal. Focus on one thing and remove the rest. Same thing goes for sales pages: you want to only have the information that is necessary so that your client wants to buy. Too much information that doesn’t support your website’s goal will simply make your user close the page.
10. They don’t break their text into headers and paragraphs.
There’s honestly nothing more boring to read than a big paragraph of text. There is a hierarchy to reading, take advantage of it. Break up your paragraphs into chunks people can absorb, and add titles so that they can skip the parts they don’t want to read and jump to the information that is relevant to them.
Feel free to add pictures in your copy too! Don’t make your face the most important thing on the page (except if it’s supposed to be), but pictures are a great way to divide content and make your brand relatable.
11. They have a pop-up that opens 2 seconds after you land on their website.
Pop-ups are not bad in themselves… but you can use them badly. Like if you don’t give your visitors a chance to get to know you better before you ask them for their email addresses. Imagine going into a store and having a lady waiting for you at the door asking you to subscribe to their mailing list. Would you? Probably not. You want to explore the store first, check out if it matches your style and if you enjoy it, them you just might give your email to them! But not straight away before you even get a chance to check it out. Same thing goes for your website.
12. Their website takes more than 7 seconds to load.
We live in a world of instant reward, and if your website doesn’t load within seconds, visitors will simply close it and go to another one that opens faster. For each second your website takes to load, you lose a bit a traffic. How can you make your website faster to avoid this, then? Make the size of your images smaller, limit the number of fonts you use, find a theme that is already optimized for speed, install a cache plugin (I use W3 Cache for WordPress), etc.
13. They use too many colors.
Your brand can be all about rainbows and unicorns, but you don’t want your website to look like a paint mess. Try to stick as much as possible to a white background with pops of colors. Black on white is the easiest for reading, but you can experiment a little. Just don’t make it hard for your visitors to read your content or get a headache after two minutes.
I recommend to stick with the color scheme I learned in interior design school; it works great for any kind of design work. 70%-30%-10%. Pick a primary color, something neutral for your 70%. Pick the second one, maybe a little bit more creative for your 30%. The 10% can pop as much as you want!
14. They use too many fonts.
On top of making it hard to read, it will also slow down your website. Keep your number of fonts under 3. Here on CityGirl’s Design? I only use one! (And it works great for me!)
Pick one for the main body of your text, something that is super easy to read and good for the eyes, then pick another one for your headers. Again, you want to keep it easy to read as much as possible. Your third font can be a cursive/swirly that you can use here and there, but make sure it is readable. Type something and ask a friend if they can read it! If they have a hard time, switch. Even if it’s pretty and you love it, if your potential clients can’t read it, there’s no point.
15. They don’t check if their website is mobile-friendly.
In this day and age when everybody browse the net from their cellphone, having a website that looks great on mobile is essential. Most themes you find will do this for you, but it’s always good to check! So pick up your phone, and just resize your browser, and check if everything looks the way you want to!
16. They don’t check if their website is browser-compatible.
Even if most users will probably come from Chrome and Firefox, you still need to check what the compatibility of your website is. After all, you don’t want the experience to be completely different on Explorer than it is on Chrome! One bad experience I had with that was a mailing list form that was only working on Chrome and not on any other platform, because my code wasn’t compabitle. I missed a lot of subscribers because they couldn’t type their email! So make sure you open the other browsers or at least run your URL through BrowserStack to get screenshots of what your website looks like on other browsers if you can’t test them all.
17. Their logo doesn’t click to home.
This might seem like something that doesn’t matter, but it does. People are used to be able to click on the logo to go back to your homepage, so if you don’t fit the standard, you might confuse them. It’s especially important if you don’t have a link to home in your menu!
Even though it is mandatory these days (especially if you’re using a tracking pixel from Facebook or advertising), a lot of people don’t have the legal documents to protect themselves. On top of the security that provides those documents, it also makes you look a lot more professional! Never underestimate those documents. You can find some for free online, but I used TermFeeds to get mine. If you have more specific needs, please reach out to a lawyer to make sure your butt is covered!
19. They don’t have sharing buttons.
Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to share your content! If you don’t had buttons to your website (which is super easy to do with most platforms), you’re missing out on some free traffic! People are lazy; they don’t want to copy and paste your page’s URL, go to Facebook and paste it. They want to do everything from your website. It also keeps them there, so if they want to explore more, they’re welcomed to do it!
20. They use images that don’t represent their business
Stock photos are great to use if you don’t have the budget to hire a photographer, but they can also be very tricky. Make sure you don’t mislead your visitors by using imges that could confuse them about your purpose.
21. They put their email address on their website
My friend, if you make that mistake, you’re going to get a lot of spam! It can seem easier for clients to contact you that way, but robots are going around the internet and finding email addresses to spam. Instead, use a contact form! This way, robots can’t get your email address, but clients can still contact you!