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In 2019 and beyond, every creative business can benefit from a website, and most already have one set up. However, there are many things that can make a site subpar.
You don’t want your website to be one of the many that fall prey to these rookie mistakes.
Even the smallest error can result in the largest loss—such as deterring potential clients or customers because of a site faux pas that’s easily fixed.
I’ve rounded up the most common website errors I’ve spotted in 2019 right here in this post. Give your business an advantage by avoiding these top 11 mishaps.
1 // Confusing, cluttered, and hard to navigate
Mistake: There are few things more frustrating than when you land on a website and can’t find what you’re looking for. A website is failing its business when it causes people to leave and click off simply because it’s not user-friendly.
Not being able to easily locate a blog, contact page, shop, etc. is all-too common. Surprisingly enough, even in 2019 many online entrepreneurs have confusing websites that are overloaded with clutter or simply aren't straightforward.
Solution: Make sure your links are up to date, and keep things simple. Add a search bar, and create a blog archives page. List important pages in your header navigation.
Don’t make your audience click through five links before they actually get to the content they’re looking for. Make sure you supply the necessary information people might need before they make a purchase. And don’t be too repetitive. Less is truly more when it comes to a great website experience.
2 // No clear picture of what the business is about
Mistake: Often times I see websites that don’t paint a clear picture of their brand. Each page seems to say something a little bit different about what the creative business is all about.
From a grainy vacation photo in a bio—to a story about a walk in the woods—to handmade bracelets in a shop—to a poetry column.
When the branding and messaging is all over the place, it’s tough for readers to figure out how the business relates to them and if they should stick around.
Solution: There’s nothing wrong with a brand that incorporates different topics, but make sure it’s clear and cohesive! Be intentional with how you bring everything together through your website’s visual design and through your pages’ copy.
Create an About page that highlights the features of your brand and doesn't leave viewers questioning why you named your blog after your pet when your business revolves around handmade journals.
3 // Website real estate isn’t prioritized
Mistake: Many of the websites I’ve seen over the years fail to highlight their most valuable content. And this is still a common issue.
For instance, when the first page listed in a website’s navigation is “Policies and Disclaimers,” it takes away valuable real estate from more important pages such as a Blog, a Shop, or an About page. Not to mention, it’s a bit off-putting to be bombarded with legal information, and it distracts readers from the main focus of the business. It can also brand a business as being jarring, intimidating, or stern.
Solution: Think about what you want your audience to focus on when they land on your website. Include your logo and prime pages in your top header. In the footer, include other page links that don’t necessarily need the limelight but are still important (such as policies).
Keep things simple so you don’t overwhelm visitors or make them turn away due to decision fatigue.
4 // Failing to implement a clear, specific call-to-action on each page
Mistake: Many websites fail to include a clear call-to-action (CTA), or “next step,” on each page of their website. When a reader makes it to the bottom of a page and is met with a dead end, it can encourage them to leave or cause them to become confused about what to do next.
Solution: Each page on your website should have one clear goal in mind for your reader’s next step. You want to guide them to take another action. It might be to subscribe to your email list, check out your services, or read another blog post.
Try to stick to just one or two choice actions for each page to prevent your audience from freezing up because of too many options.
For example, my About page highlights the many different facets of Ponder Trail but only includes two collections of links: one for my services and another for our free resources. This is a strategic way to include a handful of links without wearing out your readers with too many possibilities.
5 // Lacking a funnel or natural flow through website’s design
Mistake: In addition to not having a clear call-to-action on each page, it’s all-too-common to find websites that fail to benefit their businesses due to poor flow design.
Instead of leading potential customers and clients towards their high quality products and services, websites often lack in funnel strategy.
This is a lose-lose because the audience misses out on learning about all of the value they can experience with the brand’s paid offerings, and you lose out on possible sales and bookings.
Solution: A website can be a powerful asset for organically growing your business if set up properly.
Weave a strategy throughout your website by creating a specific flow for your pages. This brings your audience through a path that leads to your overarching goal (to buy your products or book your services).
Think about the end goal of your business when creating each page, blog post, and newsletter. By using your website and clicking through your pages, your audience will naturally flow through that funnel and be gently guided towards that goal.
This helps grow your business and bring in an income. Plus, your audience will benefit greatly from the value you provide when your website and brand is designed strategically with their needs in mind. So it’s a win-win.
6 // Directing people away from a website
Mistake: Nothing makes me cringe more than when people direct their audience away from their website.
After all of the work that goes into marketing and getting people on a website, why would a business then constantly promote links and sidebar ads that take people away?
Solution: Encourage your audience to stick around by offering them quality content and your own original product or service. Treat your website like your business’s Headquarters—because that’s truly what it is.
Affiliates can be a great source of income for your business when chosen carefully. Be strategic about which programs you partner with. Use companies that work well with your brand and supplement what you offer.
This way, your audience will return to your website for more helpful content once they’ve signed up with your affiliate.
7 // Off-putting pop-ups, ads, and other ugly distractions
Mistake: I can’t count the number of times I’ve landed on someone’s website only to be bombarded with ads and popups that I can’t click away from fast enough.
Not only are they distracting and often in-your-face, but they are usually quite ugly and don’t work well with the business’s brand aesthetic.
Plus, these off-putting nuisances take away from the entire brand experience, which is never a good idea.
Solution: Avoid using pop-ups, and instead, design your website so it naturally highlights your newsletter sign-up and the value that comes with subscribing. This creates incentive without being pushy.
Again, be sure to choose affiliates carefully, and consider focusing on creating your own product or service to replace income made from website ads. Not only will this tidy things up, but it will develop your business and build your brand in unique ways that allow you to use your gifts and talents.
Step-by-step guidance: If you want guidance with exploring this, I would love to help you! I work with creative entrepreneurs to figure out their ideal business direction. I offer Business Kick-Start Sessions and virtual Brand Strategy Workshops to work with clients one-on-one to build and grow their businesses and create their one-of-a-kind brands.
8 // No blog or regularly updated content stream
Mistake: When a brand captivates my interest, I dive into its website, familiarizing myself with it as much as possible. I check out all of the pages and get a feel for everything the company has to offer.
But it’s always a let-down when a business doesn’t have a blog or some other form of a regularly updated content stream. Since there isn’t anything new to return to, I don’t end up following as closely. And because I’m not used to consistently stopping by, the brand often falls to the wayside except for an occasional visit.
Solution: Instead, take advantage of your audience’s appetite for new content.
Whether you provide inspiration for using your products or write a help column with new tips and tricks, make use of a blog to encourage your followers to visit your site over and over again to find new additions.
The best part is, you can branch away from a blog, too; it’s so easy to record a podcast or film a video with your phone or computer these days. So if another form of content makes sense with your brand, try something different.
Tip: Consistency is one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged and to build a loyal following. As you publish new content consistently, readers get used to your posting schedule and know what to expect and how often to show up to find your latest content.
Utilizing an editorial calendar is a great way to stay on track with creating new blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos.
9 // Large blocks of text and ongoing paragraphs
Mistake: There’s nothing more laborious than staring at a full page of text and having to read every word in order to sort through and absorb the content within. One lump of text is much more mentally intimidating than when the same amount of text is broken up into smaller chunks.
Solution: A simple fix is to break down your text into organized sections. Utilize hierarchy to emphasize the main points by using different headers. Then, add your text below its heading in small paragraph sections (2-3 sentences is usually good).
This makes it easier to read without feeling overwhelmed, and it also allows readers to skim for the specific information they are looking for.
Sidenote: Squarespace makes it a breeze to work with headers. (This is one of the many reasons why I design all of my clients websites on Squarespace; I know I’m giving them a valuable asset that is easy to maintain and use without headaches down the road!)
10 // Too many fonts and colors
Mistake: One of the most common website mistakes that makes it look unprofessional is having too many fonts and colors.
As a designer, this is one of the biggest trust-killers in my book.
Poor design indicates that a business doesn’t know how to bring their brand together and hasn’t carefully thought through all of the details.
A website is a presentation of a business and should make a convincing first impression. If their website experience and design is lacking, why wouldn't their products be, too?
Solution: Pair down your brand’s style by choosing just two fonts: one for headings and one for body text. Use only a few colors in your brand’s palette; three to five is usually a safe bet. After that, it’s easy for things to get too busy and unintentional.
Hint: You don’t need to figure out your branding all on your own. It’s okay to hire a professional to ensure your business has a quality design that attracts your ideal customer or client.
If you are looking to take your creative business to the next level visually, I’d love to chat! Check out my Brand and Website Design service here to get started.
11 // Too cookie-cutter
Mistake: With literally endless ways to be creative and stand out from the sea of other online spaces, there’s no reason for a website to fall in line and blend in with the monotony of others.
Solution: The best way to create a stunning and unique website is to include custom brand elements. From a unique logo to signature icons, incorporating one-of-a-kind pieces in your site helps it stand out. And it elevates your entire brand, too.
Intentional design that touches on every part of your business ties everything together in one polished package, which is showcased through your website. Your products and services may be the stars, but your website is the stage and creates the overall experience for your clients and customers.
Don’t miss out on booking services or making sales because people pass by your lackluster website. Instead, create a memorable online space that has a one-of-a-kind personality.
And there you have 11 ways to avoid website havoc as a creative entrepreneur!
What goals do you have for your website? Are you hoping to make any changes to improve it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments!