Are you making these 5 mistakes with your website?

The most important aspect of your website is whether it is achieving the goals you set for it. It can be the most amazing looking website on the internet, but if people aren't coming back, or buying, or reading, or donating, then your site might as well be ugly.

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It's often useful to take a bit of time out to review how your website is performing. Check the load time, how it looks on mobile, and your analytics to see how people are behaving. Look at this information with an objective eye and be ruthless about changing your site to improve it's performance.

Here are 5 things that you can assess easily, and fix if necessary to improve the chances of your site achieving its goals.

User Experience

Remember that you are very familiar with your website. You know where everything is and your can do what is needed without difficulty. But most people visit your site without knowing what you want them to do, how to navigate the site and where everything sits. What makes sense to you might not make sense to them.

A bad experience for users is a lot worse than an unattractive site. People will forgive a lot about an ugly website, but they won't forgive a bad experience. They come to your site to find something and if it is not easy to find they will go somewhere else.

Sad person at desk

Most bad user experiences I see are because someone has tried to be too clever. Standing out can be important, and being new is often an attribute that people look for, but at the expense of user experience this will cause your site to fail. Be innovative, but make sure that the innovations are in the interests of good user experience.

This applies to cutting edge trends too. Sometimes a new menu structure, or a new website feature will start to be a trend. Don't be an early adopter, unless this is specific to your audience. You'll just confuse most people. When the trend becomes mainstream (and not all of them do) then you can use it. Wait until your audience can say "ah, I know what to do here."

Crowding out

Home Page Real Estate used to be a battle ground. Everyone wanted their piece of their patch on the front page. Not any more. The most effective websites are simple, easy on the eye, uncluttered and use images and white space to guide the user to the action you want them to take.

Crowded front pages confuse people. Users are willing to spend some time navigating your site, rather than having everything presented to them in one big buffet of dessert - too much choice is worse than no choice at all.

Here are some tips

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    If you use background images, make them unobtrusive. Colourful, bold images will distract the user, and make any home page content hard to view.
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    Use whitespace. Whitespace gives your users a feeling of calm as they are navigating the site. Use it to delineate areas of your site and create a path for the eye to follow. 
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    Don't get over ambitious with colour or images. Select colours to suit your branding and select images that tell a story. Cheesy stock photos don't tell a story and look lazy. Too many bright colours can be jarring. Make people want to be on your site.

GIFS, Music, Flashing weirdness 

People don't go to websites for the movement and the sound. They go for the content they are looking for. If you have movement and sound, give people control over it. Let them make the decision to start and stop it.

Video animations and moving graphics can be a great way to get your message across. Keep it subtle, professional and classy. Here is our animated logo that we got from Rocket Animations.  It's short, simple and it gives you control over sound and video. Hopefully it helps you to remember our brand.

Not Mobile

This is probably the biggest website sin. Since 2014 more time is spent browsing on mobile phones than on desktops. If your site is not built for mobile you will be losing customers.

People can see your site if it isn't suited to mobile, but it is frustrating, with small text and difficult to use menus.

Don't forget to test everything on mobile, not just how it looks, but how it works. 

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    Can people access buttons? 
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    Can people with fat fingers use buttons and menus? 
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    Do the menus actually work? 
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    Is all your content available to mobile users?

Don't forget that Google will penalise sites that are not mobile friendly. Check your site for it's friendliness level.

Performance

On the internet people are impatient. If your site is slow to load it will turn people away. There are plenty of cat videos more interesting than waiting for your site to load.

 Keep images appropriately sized. Some content management systems will let you load a full resolution image and resize it for you, but they may still serve the full resolution image to the user, this will slow your site down dramatically.

Learn how to optimise your images. Websites don't need super high resolution. An image needs to be big enough and that is all. Learn to set the size of your images to be just right for the application. A feature image, or an image in the content may need to be different sizes.

Use tools such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Canva or Picmonkey

If you need to know what size an image should be, consult support for  your theme, or Google.

Learn more about how to manage your website for success with our online course - Website Success Formula.

Lisa Harvey