Could Your Site Design be Hurting Your Business?

When I first started learning HTML, a site called Geocities was popular. It was free to sign up (but had ads on the free version), and being young and poor, having a free personal website was great. I spent countless hours late at night editing the website code and adding items like blinking text and animated GIFs. If I were to put this into my portfolio today, I would be laughed out of the web designer community, banned from ever doing another website again and possibly might even have a hit out on me by the web design mafia*. This was also during the time cell phones were the size of your head and AOL charged by the hour to use the internet. The internet has evolved greatly since then and so have websites.

*The web design mafia does not really exist. But it should.

Is your website hurting your business?
Your website is a reflection of your business. Having an out of date or poor website design reflects badly on your company. I recently had a client come to me needing help with their website. When I was looking at their website, I thought it was done sometime in the early 90’s. The entire site looked dated, had grammar errors throughout the content, and made no sense from a navigation standpoint. I was shocked when I learned the website had been built within the past 6 months. I was able to work with the client in designing a new site that looked as modern and as professional as the business they were running.

Here are some helpful tips when reviewing your design:

Check competitor’s websites
Find competitors in other cities that offer the same services as yours and compare theirs to your website. If yours looks boring or out of date, it is time for a redesign.

Readability
If a viewer is not able to read your content, they will leave quickly. Make sure you are using fonts that are easy to see, large enough, and a strong contrast from your background (dark text with a light background is the easiest to read). For large blocks of text, a standard, clear font should be used; avoid fancy fonts.

Avoid Clutter
A webpage should be able to be scanned easily and quickly. Having too many ads, images or graphics makes it difficult to scan through your content. Keep pictures small and off the the side, and other items in a sidebar if possible.

Navigation
Having a two click rule is essential for keeping your site easy to navigate. This means every page should be no more than two clicks to find. Having a drop down menu, sidebar navigation for subpages, a search bar or a sitemap will help your customers move around your site.

Don’t look at your design
Have someone else look at it, preferably a person in the design field that can give you some constructive criticism. If you have been looking at your website for a long time it becomes difficult to be objective. Try to keep an open mind when you receive the comments if they are negative. It will only help you and your business to make changes.

These are just a few tips when looking at your website. Be realistic about website expiration dates. Websites are not meant to be static. They are meant to grow with your business. If your website has metaphoric paint peeling and stained carpets, potential customers are going to get the impression that you put the same care into your website as your business.