How Not to Design Your Business Website
The Chic Sleek Freak
These are those über-cool ‘visual essays’ that need a degree in Graphic Design to be understood. Instead of any normal interface such as a navigation menu, or linking text we might find cryptic symbols. Working out how to move from page to page is like figuring out how to complete a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the lid. It may be intellectually stimulating at the right time, but it’s frustrating at all other times. How to avoid this problem: choose your web designer carefully.
A trendy hairstyle and an iPad may help to make a slick presentation, but it doesn’t help them understand your business and what it needs to stand out from the competition. Do they really get what your USP is and can they share it to your potential clients in a compelling and convincing way? Or are they going to give you another cookie-cutter website?
So beware: if your designers use equal parts jargon to hair gel, they may not be the best choice for you. If they can’t explain what they mean in plain English, give them a wide berth.
The Explosion in a Font Factory
Whilst some websites may be too minimal, others are… not. These ones tend to be covered in free clip art that could originally have come via a CD-ROM that someone saw in the Bargain Box at their local superstore.
The mistake here: the website was created by an inexperienced ‘designer’ with a sharp hairstyle but little experience, or by someone equally inexperienced but keen. Believe it or not, some people still get their young relatives to build a business website when they’re not doing their homework, despite their lack of business knowledge. Typically the former knows too much about the theory of design and not enough about the business of design. The latter knows little about design, typography or designing a human interface – and it shows.
Their sites could have been (and often are) self-built using a cheap software package or a free WordPress theme. Eventually their victims learn that saving a little money on their website costs their business much more than they save. The cost to your business reputation, and professional credibility could be terrible. An expensive lesson. Sometimes though, that lesson comes too late.
The Coder’s Catastrophe
The final type is a common mistake we see too often on the Internet. This type of website operates well enough from a technical point of view, but is all too often hideous to look at. You can always spot the Coder’s Catastrophe because of the horrible colour scheme and tiny images. Black and orange are favourite background colours, as are the most miserable greys in the visual spectrum. It may be cluttered with gadgets and gizmos that spin, whirl and may look impressive at first, but really just get in the user’s way.
This kind of website is usually created by a programmer (aka coder or developer) instead of a designer. How can you tell? It is too text heavy, uses plenty of jargon and lacks client appeal.
The real problem with the Coder’s Catastrophe is that it’s selfish. It was designed from the perspective of the person who built it and virtually never considers the perspective of the client or the business that this website is meant to represent. The cure? Ditch and get a designer to create a new one with a proper human user interface (i.e. something that easy to use and does only what it should do). Get the coders to do what they do best: programming parts of the site to do what it needs to do, efficiently. If you have one of these websites only a complete makeover will fix it.
The Next Step
How do you avoid these three common mistakes? Simple: choose a designer or agency that takes time to really understand the way you do business. Check their portfolio and customer testimonials. Finally, spend time talking to them and only proceed if you are confident that they have the experience and attitude to give your business the website it deserves. Alternatively, save yourself all that bother and just contact us – we’ll sort out your website for you.