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The Top 5 Website Building Mistakes When Building Your Own Site

With the wide distribution of easy to use do-it-yourself (DIY) software, it’s no secret that almost anyone can create a website themselves.  Also, I have no issues with individuals designing and maintaining their own website.  I didn’t get into the web design and development industry to make a $1 Million; I did it to help individuals and businesses succeed in the digital world.  At first glance, it may not seem that complicated to build a website, and for the most part you’re right.  It really isn’t that technical to to click a couple banners then drag them onto the screen, but there are lots design elements that amateur designers tend to forget about and can detract from all your efforts.  Let’s list the top 5 website mistakes people make when building their own website.

 

Mistake #1 – Poorly selected, pixelated images

Images are a cornerstone of your website’s aesthetics.  You can easily spot an amateur website by looking at their images if they haven’t slapped you in the face first.  If they are too large, they crowd the page.  If they are too “grainy” they stick out like a sore thumb.  The worst mistake I see amateurs make when it comes to their images is with the background.  Often developers will select a background image that is:

  • Too small
  • Non-repeatable
  • Poorly coded

 

A poor resolution image which has become pixelated

See, the problem with using a standard image (let’s use the example of a car) is it is sensitive to scale.  With the wide use of responsive layouts (designs that adjust to the size of the screen the user is viewing the site on), images also need to be scalable.  If you use an image that does not fit in the area you’d like it to, by default, it may become distorted.  If this happens you may need to use some custom coding to make it fit within your target area.  Also make sure the colours of your images fix with your colour scheme, especially if it’s a background image.

The Fix: Use patterns for now.  These are easily repeatable and don’t require huge file sizes which can bog down your load times. In addition, ensure that you are optimizing your images for the web.  If you need an image that is 1000px wide, don’t use one that is 200px or 2000px.  The former becomes stretched and distorted while the latter kills your website load times with no additional benefit.

Mistake # 2 – Poor Layout

While navigating the storm of website creation, you need to keep your objective of your website in mind.  Whether that be delivering content to your users, showcasing your photography portfolio, or raising money for a fundraiser, never allow your layout design to get in the way of your goal.  Often, I will see websites organized in a cluttered way where I can’t find what’s important.  E.g. the ads are practically over top of their call to action!

The Fix: The good ol’ pencil and paper can do wonders here.  It shouldn’t be extravagant either!  Just use simple boxes of varying sizes and little horizontal squiggle lines for text.  If it looks to cluttered or in disarray at this stage, it will only be amplified when populated with content.

Mistake #3 – Unfinished Sites

Sometimes business owners will be in such a rush to deliver their content online that they don’t stop to make sure everything is complete.  For example, websites will usually have a template for owners to plug information into.  The problem here is there is often what we call “placeholder content” which needs to be overwritten.  This can be overlooked.  So instead of having a call to action that says “Please Subscribe to Our Newsletter Below”, it says “This is an area for you to enter a call to action”.  This not only looks unprofessional, it also completely negates the objective of your website.

The Fix: Do a few test runs!  Have yourself or another member of your team go through the site and make sure there isn’t anything you forgot.  It may also be worth it to hire someone to proofread your site.

This is the worst website in the world!
Definitely what not to do ^

Mistake #4 – Too Many Ads and Pop-ups

This one drives me crazy.  I understand that as a business owner the temptation to throw advertisements and unavoidable pop-ups in the face of your viewers may be overwhelming, but it needs to stop!  Think about it, how many times have you been annoyed by some kind of a pop up?  How many times did you close it without reading it?  Don’t scare people away by doing this.  It also makes your site give off a bit of a “sellout” vibe.

The Fix: One small, unobtrusive pop-up is fine.   If you’re worried about your viewers leaving your website prior to accomplishing your objective then you need to go back and review your design.

Mistake #5 – Weak SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization (SEO), or how visible website is within search engine results pages (SERPs), is not a new area of digital marketing, but it still is a relatively unknown one for amateur site builders.  Simply writing anything that comes to your mind is not enough anymore if you want organic traffic (those that visit your site outside of paid ads).  You need to ensure that you’re targeting the keywords that you would like to rank for and ensuring that your content is optimized for those keywords.

The Fix: Do your research using some solid SEO software such as moz or consult a professional.

 

There are many other mistakes that people make when designing their own websites, but these are the big ones that I believe need to be considered prior to even dragging your first div element!

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About Dan Pietens

Dan is the President and Lead Developer of Innervation Technology and Design. He creates beautiful websites and believes in a world where small companies can survive and thrive through the help of affordable web services.