Having a poorly designed business website does more than just hurt your online aesthetics; it can harm your sales and conversions. For the best return on your online investment, avoid these 5 common design mistakes.

Poor Color and Contrast

Don’t underestimate the affect your colors will have on your site. Contrast is especially important because it can make your text hard to read (too little contrast) or jarring to look at (too much contrast).

Some of the worst color combinations are yellow text on a black background and white text on a black background. These pairings are almost dizzying to look at, cause eye fatigue, and drive people away from your site. If you’re not sure what level of contrast is acceptable, try using an online color contrasting tool to determine what groupings work well together.

Besides choosing colors that are readable and easy on the eyes, you should also take into account how they work from a creative standpoint. Do they provide any visual interest or help in organization? A good rule of thumb is to stick with two or three basic colors and assign each one to specific elements (i.e. color one for titles, color two for text, color three for links).

Confusing Navigation

The simple fact is if your site is confusing or if users can’t find their way around then they will just click away. Why would they bother trying to figure it out when the internet is full of sites that are easier to understand?

If you want to keep people on your pages then you have to help them find what they’re looking for through seamless navigation. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Most blogs and websites use similar navigation systems that internet users are familiar with. When you use common navigation elements, visitors intuitively know how to maneuver your site.
  • Use icons. Pictures look good, are easy to understand, and help people find stuff quickly.
  • Only display the main categories on the home page, and have subcategories located on a different page or in a dropdown menu.
  • Use a breadcrumb trail at the top of your pages to show users the path they followed and how to get back home.

Cluttered Pages

Having cluttered pages evokes the same response as poor navigation — guests become overwhelmed, can’t find what they’re looking for, and just leave.  Prevent this from happening by sticking to these guidelines:

  • Cut anything extraneous from your main page. Your homepage is there to grab consumers’ interest (not to show off everything you have to offer).
  • Give content, advertisements, and promotions separate screen locations.
  • Keep the most important information near the top of the page.

Overall, be ruthless in what you keep on your homepage; if something isn’t vital, move it somewhere else.

Unclear Call to Action

One of the primary purposes of any business website is to initiate conversions. Don’t miss out on this huge opportunity by having an ineffective or nonexistent call to action. Think about what you want your visitors to do. Provide their contact info? Sign up for a newsletter? Register on your site? Whatever you decide, ensure your call to action button adequately advertises that message by using these practices:

  • Use plain language, position it in a highly-visible location, use an eye-catching color, and make it noticeably bigger than other links.
  • Keep it simple — people don’t have the patience to fill out long forms or to follow multiple steps. If you’re call to action is tedious, they will find somewhere else to get the information.
  • Don’t confuse your guests by having competing calls to action. Decide what you most want consumers to do and stick with that one goal.

Hard to Scan Content

Web users skim through your content before making the commitment to stay and read, but if your pages aren’t scannable they will just click away (no one wants to waste time reading every word to learn what your site is about). Make the theme of each page apparent and help people find what they’re looking for by using these tips:

  • Have clear titles and headings.
  • Break up blocks of text into smaller more meaningful paragraphs (with white space in-between).
  • Make content easy to see and read by using an adequate font size, margins, and proper grammar.

No matter what type of business you have (virtual or physical), consumers are going online to learn more about it. By avoiding these common mistakes you will have a website capable of attracting customers and improving your bottom line.

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