Your website is where prospects learn more about your organization and its products and services before making an investment or taking the leap to contact you. It’s how customers connect with your support team and gather information that helps them solve their everyday challenges. It may even be a means for attracting volunteers and donors to support your cause.
For these reasons and more, purposeful and excellent website design is a must. Not only can design help you better communicate your brand’s message and purpose in creative ways, it can also ensure that your website functions in a user-friendly way, as intended. In contrast, poor website design can hinder your organization’s credibility and even turn customers away in a matter of seconds if load time issues or other design problems exist. With so much at stake, it’s important that you understand the top design risks to avoid when developing or updating a website.
While some people who come across bad website design may find it ironically attention-grabbing, others will certainly navigate away from the page faster than they arrived. Bad design can certainly be obvious, like some sites from the 1990s that still live on. But it can also be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, seeming at first to be decent but secretly being the opposite.
When working on your next website design project, don’t:
Your website needs to be fast to accommodate short attention spans. There are many reasons why a website may fail to load quickly, from too many ads or flash content to unclean code and even a lower quality web host. It’s crucial that you understand the causes of slow load times and take steps to avoid them. Otherwise, it’s possible that some visitors may be frustrated by your website and fail to peruse its many pages, make a purchase or even contact customer support.
You can’t assume that everyone will be navigating to your website from a desktop computer or laptop. In fact, it’s likely that a majority of visitors will visit from their phones, laptop or even their e-reader. Responsive web design allows your website to properly adjust to a user’s screen size and platform without disrupting the look and feel of the images, text and other design elements.
Following best practices for search engine optimization helps drive more people to your website. When designing your site, be sure to incorporate keywords, internal links and opportunities for regular updates, such as through a blog. The more consistently you update and add new content to your blog, the more you will enhance SEO and attract users of Google and other search engines. Plus, educational and thought-provoking content will keep visitors on your site longer and keep them coming back. If they feel like your website has little to offer, they may click away quickly.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than needing to contact support or even a specific department within a company and being unable to do so quickly and easily. Consider displaying your contact information in the website’s footer, having a dedicated “Contact Us” page or even incorporating an AI-powered chatbot in the bottom right corner to help website visitors in their quest for quick answers.
Looking for some inspiration for your website design project? Take a look at these best-in-class examples to get your creative juices flowing:
Hootsuite’s homepage highlights the many different capabilities it offers to its users and incorporates charming illustrations. The company also makes it incredibly easy to request a demo to learn more about the platform and drive leads. And by highlighting customer names and a quick snippet of their results since implementing the software, Hootsuite can entice website visitors to click on customer stories.
The header is easy to navigate and provides essential information like different available plans, resources like blogs and guides and education like courses and education. If your website offers a range of products, it may be helpful to borrow from one particular design aspect: a comparison chart.
DocuSign uses a bold black and white color palette accented by fluorescent colors one might use to highlight where to sign a contract or other important document. It also incorporates an easy-to-read font that is quite large on both the desktop and mobile versions. It grabs visitors’ attention and accentuates key points of information.
One of my favorite things about this website’s homepage is that it’s not entirely static. There is a short video featured that highlights DocuSign’s main offering and incorporates captions in case you’re watching on mute or hearing impaired. Video is also used across the product pages to supplement the copy and give visitors another way to understand the solutions DocuSign offers.
Consumer brands can teach B2B brands a lot about website design, even if their target audience is different. For instance, have you considered featuring best selling products on a section of your website, or showcasing other recommended solutions at the bottom of each product page to encourage visitors to continue browsing?
Girlfriend Collective is an athletic brand geared toward women that brings its causes to the forefront of its website. For example, its homepage promotes the company’s commitment to sustainability and has even helped visitors find voting resources during the 2020 election. The sustainability messaging is consistent, with many product pages highlighting the fact that Girlfriend Collective recycles plastic bottles to make textiles. Testimonials are also a focus. Customer reviews and pull quotes from press coverage on the brand scroll across the homepage.
They even offer accessibility adjustments, including a “seizure safe profile” that reduces flashes and colors that might trigger a seizure, larger font and assistance with reading for those with cognitive disabilities. Inclusive features such as these ensure that everyone feels welcome on your website.
What makes a good website? While website design inherently allows for flexibility and creativity, it’s important that you don’t stray too far outside the lines when it comes to certain basic capabilities and expectations. By understanding what not to do when it comes to website design, you’ll be better positioned to create a website that effectively showcases your brand and meets the needs of your prospects, customers, employees, investors, etc. With a website that wows, you may be able to achieve more and longer site visits. Plus, you’ll leave a lasting impression on those who rely on your website, and you’ll have a higher chance of closing sales or securing volunteers and donors.
Does your business need to launch a new website or update its current website? Reach out to our team to discuss website design ideas.
Jess Messenger is an Account Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing PR campaign strategies and writing for B2B audiences across numerous verticals such as retail, foodservice and healthcare.