Today on the blog I am sharing with you my top 10 common DIY website design mistakes. You will learn how to avoid them AND how to fix them!
So, you’ve decided to go the DIY website building path, or you’re at least considering it.
If you’re just building your online presence or are a new business, the DIY route might seem like the way to go. You’re trying to stay budget-friendly. I get it! I’ll touch on this later, but know there will be a trade-off of your time learning the ins and outs of great design. You can do it, but it’s going to take some work.
Maybe, you like dabbling in the tech side of your business, and you’re looking forward to the process of designing your site.
Whatever your motivation and whether someone builds their own site or works with a website designer (hey there!), going through the correct process of pulling your site together will be a journey of digging into your deeper purpose, problems your business solves, and how you communicate your solutions.
A well-designed website will appeal to and speak to your leads, and you know what that means – More Money! But, I have to also tell you that if you think you can throw a website together and get results, you’ll be wasting your time and potentially hurt your brand’s perception. I’ve seen some shotty sites, and all I think, unfortunately about the businesses they represent is that their services and products are probably equal to how they rep themselves.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and I don’t want you to throw away your valuable time, so I’ll share 10 common DIY website design mistakes.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Your Website
1. The text is too hard to read.
The problem: Oh, I see lots of problems with formatting and font selection on so many websites.
The solution: Select fonts and text colors that contrast nicely with your backgrounds. For example, script over a busy floral background would be too much for someone to see your message. Speaking of script, carefully use script fonts. They should really only be used as an accent for one or two words. Also, don’t use script for long headings. They’ll be too hard to read, and NEVER use them for an entire paragraph. I promise it’ll look messy and be too hard to read.
Let’s talk spacing and script. First, DON’T ever space out a script font (add space between the letters). Script fonts are intended to look like handwriting or cursive, so the added swoops that should connect the letters look mega weird when spaced out. (a huge pet peeve of mine as a designer).
Make sure your font size is good, and pay attention to alignment.
My simple advice is to use the grandma test – If grandma can easily read it, you’re probably good to go. Choose an easy-to-read font, make it big enough, so it’s easily read on mobile, and align it left (in most instances).
2. Galleries are mixed (photographers, this one is super important for you!)
The problem: People are visual, and what you put up in your galleries, their organization, and how your galleries visually flow will create an attraction or a confusing and off-putting aesthetic.
The solution: Pay close attention to the organization of your galleries. Try organizing them by project type, client, or other categories. For example, consider categorizing your indoor, outdoor, and destination events separately if you’re a wedding professional. Photographers may find that subdividing brand photography into professions (realtors, health coaches, and personal trainers, for instance) or client sessions will help others see your best work and find themselves in your brand.
3. There are only images on a homepage OR a whole ton of text.
The problem: People make the mistake of filling the whole home page with images and very little text, especially for photographers. For other businesses, like coaches, I’ve seen the opposite- tons of text and no photos.
The solution: Life is about balance, and your homepage is no exception. Your pictures should tell your brand story, but your brand story also needs to be verbally told. Too little text and your site visitors may lack enough context to hit a call to action (CTA button). Cue click off! Too much text and people will feel overwhelmed and also not take action.
A few pieces of text you definitely want are messaging for your hero banner (the very top of your site), your value proposition, the problems you solve, your intro, and the process of working with you,
Suppose you’re thinking, “But no one will ever read ALL of that! That’s why I haven’t included it,” I’d say you don’t need to worry about that. Instead, you need to worry about providing enough content to make people move through the site and decide if you are the one for them.
Strategic sites lay out information to allow visitors to pick their path through the journey. Of course, some need more convincing than others, and some just want to read headlines and click buttons. Either way, we have to intentionally design and write for both.
Also, you need text for a little thing called search engine optimization or SEO (you want to rank on Google, right?). Google can’t crawl images to show your site in people’s searches. So you must have relevant text to get Google’s bots onto you and ensure you appear in search results, and your homepage is especially crucial for ranking.
4. Your contact form is too complex.
The problem: If you got them all the way to the contact form, you don’t want them to leave, because you’re asking for too much upfront.
The solution: Your focus should be to get your prospective client to the next step – that’s it (maybe to schedule a consultation call or make an appointment). Only ask for the information that is absolutely necessary to move the prospect along the path of your customer journey. I have another blog post all about contact forms that will walk you through everything you need to know.
5. Pages without names are a no-no.
The problem: Have you thought about what happens when someone shares the homepage of your website? Does someone just see a generic page name like “Services” with a description populating from your first lines of text?
You might be thinking, “Whoa, what?” If you haven’t considered your page titles and meta descriptions, you’re not thinking with SEO in mind. Page titles and descriptions convince people to click from all their search results to explore you as a solution.
The solution: Whatever platform you choose to build your site on will have ways to set page titles and descriptions. You can also upload an image so as people share your page, there will be a visual to go with it. Showit, my favorite platform, has SEO settings that make this pretty simple.
6. Oops, I don’t see you.
The problem: Plain and simple, people want to work with people. They want to connect with the person behind a brand. Too often, people don’t include an image or use poor, low-resolution images. Another problem I commonly see with photographers is that they put up a picture with a camera over their faces.
The solution: Show up. You have to show your face so they can know and trust you. People will never book if you haven’t gained their trust. Keep your headshot simple. You want to show who they’ll meet online or in person. This simple step to let people know what you usually look like before they work with you will only instill greater confidence when they meet you.
Also, make sure your headshot flows with your whole brand aesthetic. You might have a great shot, but it may not work great on your website. If it doesn’t match the style and vibe of your brand, find one that does or schedule a headshot or brand photography session. It’s an investment that matters a lot!
7. It’s obvious there’s no site organization strategy.
The problem: The DIYer didn’t understand how to set up site navigation and what content goes where.
The solution: Pages should be strategically written and designed to include all of the information they need on-page and not have to go to various pages to gather it. Do you want to show testimonials? Sprinkle that social proof across your pages. No one wants to look through 12 gallery pages. Make it simple for them to do their research and move through the site. Make the journey an enjoyable and easy one, and they’ll find their way to take the next steps with you.
8. The site has no social proof.
The problem: You can sing your praises all day long, but if no one else is on your website, people might wonder about your experience or others’ experience with your services or products. And when reviews are missing, people wonder if you’re the real deal.
The solution: So many people tell me they feel uneasy about asking for reviews. When you get excellent service or have an outstanding client experience, I bet you love giving the seller or service provider positive feedback. So, why wouldn’t someone want to do the same for you? Consider the recent clients you know who had a 5-star experience and ask them to give you testimonials. Most people will happily oblige your request, but if you want to send them a Starbucks card or other small token of your appreciation, feel free!
9. The website is all about you and not shining the spotlight on your clients.
The problem: It’s true, people want to connect with you, but they want you to extend the conversation to them through your website. They want to feel their problems are acknowledged, and that you are there to help them.
The solution: Get a little personal, but don’t drone on and on about your accolades and life. Make your clients the hero of your message. Truth bomb here – People don’t really care about how cool we are: They care about how cool we make them feel. There has to be a natural and authentic connection to create the magnetism and trust that leads them to hire us.
10. It’s apparent that mobile responsive design was not considered at the onset of the site design.
The problem: Guess what? Most of your website traffic will view your site on a mobile device, so it has to look as sharp as your desktop view.
The solution: First, you must consider mobile view when choosing your website platform. My fave website builder, Showit, allows you to optimize the mobile design with just as much intention as the desktop version. When I design for my clients, they don’t have to worry about having a wonky-looking mobile view. It’ll look as together as the desktop view.
DIY or Website Designer?
With a lot of work, care, and attention, you can absolutely go at it alone and nail your website design.
I highly recommend you start with a Tonic Template (use code ALLYBDESIGNS to receive at least 10% off). These templates are designed to convert and connect with your audience.
OR You can hire us if you want to avoid all of these mistakes.
I have stories for days of people who started their own sites and realized the job was WAY more complicated than they had expected. After spending tons of time and money, they handed their jobs over. Time is money, and I’d say use your working hours to do what you do well, and trust that I can deliver a site you’ll be proud to share. Not to mention, the longer your site takes to get up and running, the more clients aren’t buying from you. When your website looks impressive, you’ll market more confidently and attract those meant for you.
We offer two options for your website design. We can start with either our very own Signature Ally B Designs Template OR a Tonic Site Shop Template (our most popular service), or we can design you a completely custom website. Either option is a great way to ensure a website that will grow with your brand and represent you perfectly.
Want to book a complimentary call to talk about designing your dream website? Contact me, and we’ll schedule a time to discuss all the particulars and the best option for you and your brand!