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Inbound Marketing Blog

    The 7 Most-Common Design Calamities on Small Business Websites

    Posted by Robert Coles

    Effective Web Design Principles


    Your website is probably your single most valuable marketing tool in this digital age. With nearly 97 percent of consumers using the internet to make purchases, are you certain your website is standing out above the rest, or is it failing to impress, causing you to lose valuable customers and money?

    Aside from the product itself, your website design is the most important factor in whether someone will stay on your page, or click the dreaded “back” button, taking them back to their search engine of choice. Don’t fall victim to your competitor who followed these seven rules and is now profiting from someone who could have been your customer!

    1. Flash? Forget it. 

    flash website designFlash content had it’s day. That day is now long passed. Designers tend to think people’s mindsets lean toward “Oh, shiny! It moves! It has action! I must love it!” but that’s simply not the case.

    The average consumer doesn’t spend long on a web page. In fact, it is estimated that within 10 to 20 seconds, consumers have made up their mind about a particular website, and your product. Do you want 7 of these 15 seconds  to be taken up waiting on the next slide loading in your very expensive flash presentation?

    With that in mind, also forget about using a flash intro video. I know, you’ve spent a lot of time and money finding just the right images, adding in a voiceover artist, writing the script and paying to have it edited. There’s actually a social media website you can use for all of that. It’s called YouTube. Surely you’ve heard of it. Link or embed a video using YouTube and give consumers the option to view if they wish. No one likes to be forced to do anything!

    2. Don’t be afraid of negative space

    Everyone thinks that negative space is the down-fall of any creative designer. Not true. Instead, use negative space to your advantage. Apple uses negative space on their website every time they launch a new product. They use a white background, black text, and nothing else. In fact, their website looks almost nothing like the example below:

    Cluttered website

    Any good designer knows how to fill space, but a great designer knows how to let the space speak for itself.

    3. Avoid Awful Stock Photography

    Approximately 65 percent of the US population are visual learners. It's most likely that your content is only going to get skimmed. Don’t lose out on prospects because you don’t have images. 

    stock images and effective web designUse images that display your product or service. Any type of graphics that display your work will likely make a bigger and better impression than a wall of text. On the other end of the spectrum, be careful not to use a picture just because it came cheap on your favorite stock photo website. Your prospects are smart enough to identify images that are stiff, posed or don't inspire trust. Believe us, don’t fall into the trap of using photo after photo of a person leaning over another person, with a pen in their hand, pointing at something on a graph, to represent business professionals. That’s not really what a typical work day at your company looks like!

    4. Color is your friend. Well, sometimes.

    There are three very basic rules to letting color influence your web design, based on principals of color as an effective small business branding tool:

    1. White backgrounds are more for the every day consumer.

    2. Black backgrounds are more for the luxurious or business minded.

    3. Colorful backgrounds are geared to people who lead colorful lives. 

    Don’t go crazy though. Remember, a lot of research has been done about what colors are most attractive to specific types of consumers. For instance, yellow represents optimism and youthfulness, blue creates trust and security, green is associated with wealth, purple is used to calm and soothe and red creates energy and increases the heart rate. Is your website’s color scheme giving the overall effect you want for your buyers?

    5. Your Call-to-Action Has to Stand Out

    Spend some time working on the appearance of your call-to-action buttons. Think about what it should look like. Really research what people to respond to.

    Psychologists report that orange is the best color for a call-to-action. It represents aggression and urgency. This is important when your buyers are making their decision as to whether or not they want more information about you. Make them want to click the link.

    6. Mixed Fonts and Text Colors

    Don’t be afraid to step out of the Times New Roman box. Never fear to give your text a little color. There’s a bright new world outside of your 11th grade research paper formatting. 

    Use the bolding feature. Bold words draw the eye to that particular piece of content. Use that to your advantage. Bold words that really drive your point home and sell your product or service. But don't forget the importance of using contrast corren No one likes an orange background with a blue word.

    7. Less is More

    This isn’t only true in website design. It’s also true in website design. Don’t clutter your website with every widget or button you can find. Your website doesn’t need thirteen videos on your product or service, and we don’t need to see every stock photo of a graph you found in your search. 

    Remember that your content is the main focus. If you clutter your site with too much fluff, your buyers wont be able to navigate through things to find what you’re really about.

    Don’t make the rookie mistakes most small businesses make with their design. Take it to the next level and spend time and money on your website’s design, content, and functionality. Remember, your consumer wants you to be the one. They want to stop searching. Give them a reason to not hit the back button!

    New Call to action 

    Following the recent success of our posts 7 Principles of Effective Web Design for People Who Can't Code and The 7 Most-Annoying Web Design Mistakes: User Experience  we're starting a series on the nuts and bolts of effective web design for small businesses. Tune in soon for coverage of websites that convert!

    image credit: social fresh

    Topics: Design