Common issues I've discovered on websites
A lot of thought, investment and work goes into building a website and online presence that successfully carries out what it's trying to achieve. Many websites suffer from many basic issues regarding having a website to represent themselves and their business.
You can point to several reasons for these issues, from a business that is unsure of the services they offer and their USP to a web designer not building a website with mobile and tablet devices in mind. Below you will find some of the common issues I've discovered and some ideas on how to solve them.
Every user visiting a website intends to find a phone number, make a purchase, or find what a business does. Many websites suffer from having an unclear call to action, making it difficult for a potential client or consumer achieve what they've arrived at the website to do.
If you want a website visitor to contact you or make an enquiry, the points of contact must be clear and consistent throughout the website. Even something as simple as having the phone number or email address within the navigation bar and having a sticky navbar ensures that POC is always in view. The same can be said for Social Media links as well. Having these at the top and/or in the footer of all pages can also help direct visitors to your published content.
Alternatively, if you are looking to direct visitors to other pages on the website, you can include banners on certain pages directing them to the contact form or to other content they may find useful or applicable to what they're looking for.
Badly designed Navigation
Ensuring a user has a simple and straightforward experience when navigating a website, the navigation must speak for itself. The website as a whole is directing users to what they're looking for or where the business would like them to go. This could be either to discover services or to make an enquiry via a contact form.
A navigation bar doesn't need to link to every page on the website, but it does need to act as a portal because the pages it does take you to open the user up to everything else. Having dropdown menus can help if the website has many pages or if many subpages are falling under particular pages like services or products.
Hyperlinks throughout a website are the most effective way to direct users to other parts of a website. This can be through a call to action button, links allowing the user to learn more about a particular subject or direct them to related pages or posts.
Information Hubs are another way to give users an easy way to content on your website, be it articles or pages listing services. For instance, a Personal Trainer may have 50 articles on their site, covering a mixture of content from nutrition, strength workouts, cardio and circuit training. It is the job of a web designer that regardless of what users are looking for, they can easily find it. A hub will contain a link to the content that covers the relevant topic.
Out of date and poorly written content
A great looking website doesn't mean a successful website; great content is what makes it works. If a user discovers poorly written information content, services the business no longer offers or copy that either doesn't make any sense or is too wordy, they will go elsewhere.
The copy within a website should be short and to the point. In a short amount of time, visitors should understand what the business is about and what they offer. The very first impression of a website will determine whether that visitor will turn into a potential client. Therefore, clear and concise copy is vital when it comes to selling services or a product.
There are plenty of tools, freelances and course available to help improve your copy. Including, but not limited to Upwork, Grammarly or courses on Udemy.
Utilising the brand
A brand is valuable and should be weaved throughout a website that should be an accurate reflection of the business, services, and values.
When it comes to branding a website, it's important to bear in mind that it isn't solely a logo but the user of colour, font, copy and overall presentation. The designer's role is to give the website a strong sense of identity and not overwhelm the site with certain brand colours and implement them thoughtfully.
I always bear in mind that thinking about a design and layout is the importance of white space and images. Spacing out content is vital for ensuring a website is simple to navigate and easy to read. In some circumstances, an image can be better suited than white space if it's acting to convey information or simply part of the design.
To improve your skills when it comes to branding and designing a website around a brand I would recommend taking a look at the Dribble website and the websites of big companies to see how they have taken their big well-known brand and applied it throughout. Also, take a look at smaller business websites that may not have a particularly well-designed website. See what they haven't don't very well, what works and what doesn't for design, colour and branding application.
A responsive website is a bare minimum requirement when it comes to launching a site today. Statistics have shown that at least half of users visiting a website view it on a mobile device or tablet.
A website poorly designed for mobile or even not designed for mobile is an immediate switch off for a user, leading them to go elsewhere. If they have to zoom in and pan around your website to use it on a smaller screen, something has gone very wrong. A well-designed website should allow the user to find what they're looking for effortlessly. However, this can be not easy at times. This is why it's important to test and experiment and adapt and change features and pages post-launch having gained insight into a users experience.
Reworking a website to make it responsive on smaller devices is a case of shifting how parts of the website are displayed and condensing parts of it to increase readability. Once again, this is very much a case of looking at how other websites do it and experimenting with your content. CSS Tricks is also a great resource in layout, media queries and CSS reference.
These are just some of the issues that I've discovered when browsing the website of local business. I'm sure if I keep looking, I'd find many other websites that suffer from a whole myriad of issues. These are just some of the problems I'm hoping to solve in my Web Design freelancing role that I've begun working on. If you know of any others, please share it below in the comments.