02. Common website mistakes and how to fix them

I see it more and more often that people DIY their website, and I get why! With software like Wix and Showit, you can get a website up and running within a few days without breaking the bank. While I understand that this is a good option for kickstarting your business within a short amount of time, it’s easy to miss certain details & elements, which make it obvious that you’ve done it yourself, instead of going the professional route.

There are a few common mistakes I see on these DIY websites, mistakes which if fixed, could improve your conversions, lower your bounce rate and improve your Google search ranking – all of which directly affect your profit.

Below are the 8 mistakes I see the most, and actions you can take to fix them:

01. Not mobile-friendly

When you design a website, you’ll probably do it on a laptop or desktop computer, so your main focus will be on the desktop version of the site. It’ll look great and work well, but when you switch to view the website on your tablet or phone, it’ll most likely be a hot mess. The spacing will be out, the text might be the wrong size and you’ll probably have overlapping elements.

With over 50% of web traffic coming in on mobile it’s super important that your site is optimised for smaller screens. Most web builders have a built-in tablet/mobile viewer that you can use to optimise your site, but try to check it on an actual tablet or phone to make sure the text is the right size, and that you don’t have images or content cut off.

Google has bots that continuously check your website’s mobile responsivity, so having a desktop-only site can negatively affect your Google rankings’ which is why it’s so important to work on your mobile presence.

02. Inconsistent visuals/branding

When people land on your website, it should look like all the elements belong there, and that they are connected. This is the simplest way to avoid clutter and to look professional.

My suggestion would be to create a brand style guide for your website. Identify 2-3 fonts (no more than 3!) and 3-4 colours. Make sure that you use these fonts and colours consistently throughout the website. Ideally, these fonts and colours would be the same ones you use for all your digital marketing and social media platforms. If you have certain design elements, such as florals or shapes, try to use these sparingly and logically. Elements should always enhance your content, not distract from it.

Remember that your visuals have to speak to your target market. Your website is an extension of your brand and has to stay true to your target market and your message.

03. Low-quality images

There is nothing worse than going onto a website and the photos are either tiny, blurry or have nothing to do with the content. Since people are visually stimulated, you should grab their attention quickly and high-quality images are the best way to do that. With just a couple of clever, well-placed images you can tell someone exactly what your business is about and why they should make use of your services.

When you are just starting, there isn’t always money available to hire a professional photographer to take photos of you/your products. Lucky for you there are loads of royalty-free stock image databases that you can use to source images for your site. My favourites are Unsplash, Pexels and Burst by Shopify. (I do however recommend hiring a photographer as soon as you can, real photos always beat stock images.)

Remember to optimise your images for web use (in other words make them big enough so that they don’t blur on large screens, but small enough to ensure your site still loads quickly).

04. Broken links

A broken link is a link or a button that goes nowhere, or that goes to a page that does not exist. In other words – a dead end.

Be sure to test all your links before you publish your website, especially if you’ve changed page names or added new pages. Remember the following: navigation and menus, call-to-actions, download links and contact forms. The same Google bots that check your mobile responsivity also check for broken links. If your site has too many, your Google search ranking will be downgraded.

I usually have a friend check my links before I launch a website, it’s easy to miss something when you’ve been staring at the same page for days!

05. Spelling mistakes & typos

Spelling mistakes and typos happen. It’s human nature, especially if like me English isn’t your first language. The point I’m trying to make here is to focus on limiting your spelling mistakes. Too many errors can look unprofessional, and it shows a lack of attention to detail.

I would recommend using a spell-checker on your website. My favourite is Grammarly because it points out spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, poor grammar and even suggests synonyms (so you can stop using the word ‘nice’ to describe everything). You can also embed Grammarly into your prefered browser, which is handy!

Here I would also suggest asking a friend to read through your copy, in case there are any errors you (or your spell-checker) might have missed.

06. Having a slow-loading website

This one should be higher on this list because it is the main contributor to a high bounce rate. (Bounce rate refers to the amount of time someone spends on your website before leaving. In other words, a high bounce rate means people leave your site quickly, which is bad.) Generally, the main culprits of a slow-loading website are large images and videos, animated elements and lots of pop-ups & adverts.

It’s very important to optimise all your images for web use. My general rule of thumb is no images above 500kB. Check your image dimensions as well – images with size 1920px x 1080px shouldn’t blur on large screens; so make sure that your images which stretch across the entire webpage have a ‘longest-edge’ dimension of at least 1920px. You can use Lightroom or Photoshop to resize images. I also love using TinyPNG, an online image compressor.

I would recommend keeping animations to a minimum. Instead of having everything bouncing around and flying in from all over the place, use animations to draw someone’s eye to a call-to-action or a contact form. It looks more professional and speeds up your site.

Frankly, I hate an automatic popup and almost always close them before reading the content, so I would recommend getting rid of those altogether, but each to his own!

07. No logical flow

A successful website is just a well-designed flow chart. A website with a logical flow should comfortably guide you through all the content instead of leading you to click on unnecessary links, open irrelevant pages or let you get stuck somewhere. Easy ways to improve your website flow are as follows:

  • Clear navigation – ensure your menu is labelled logically and clearly visible to website visitors
  • Visible contact details – make sure your contact details are listed clearly and always just one click away, by placing them either in the footer or on a Contact page (or both)
  • Call-to-action buttons – guide visitors through your site with call-to-action buttons such as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘View Services’ or ‘Get in Touch’

I would, once again, recommend getting a friend to click through your website. Ask them to note where they end up on the site or what made them decide to leave the site. Use that information to revise your flow to make sure you’re funnelling or directing your visitors to the right place.

08. Not utilising site analytics

Okay firstly, what do I mean by site analytics? It refers to the measurement and collection of data from your website that you can use to improve your website. This includes your bounce rate, web traffic, site errors, page views, number of visitors etc. Depending on the site builder you use, you may have built-in analytics installed already.

I use Google Search Console. This is a free service offered by Google that helps you maintain and monitor your site’s presence in Google search results. Remember those Google bots I was telling you about? This is where you can see what they’ve been up to. Google Search Console gives you advice on how to improve your site, and it will point out any potential errors that prevent your site from climbing the ranks.

I also use it to see how people landed on my website – was it via social media, organically via a Google search or was it from someone else’s website. Knowing all of this can help you to channel your marketing more effectively, and get you to number 1 on Google in no time.

Now that you’ve learned about some common web mistakes, I encourage you to go back to your website to see if you can make any improvements. Remember, we’re here to help! If you have any questions, or if you need help refreshing (or creating) your website, just send us an email at info@winterreen.co.za and we’ll try to assist you as best we can!

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