It’s not just web copy that can hamper a business. Website design can mess you around, too. Design is a tricky thing – it can help but it can also hinder. While creativity is applauded, it’s even more important to ensure your site is performing the way you need it to. Here are some of the more common mistakes I see and nothing you do with the content can save it.

1. Ugly
A website is a visual medium. If your website doesn’t look attractive, it’s not going to get much traffic. While you may be able to coax people to your home page, you won’t be able to keep them there if it looks cheap and ugly.

2. Image Problem
You need images on your website and you need good ones. Invest in good stock or even commission your own photography. There’s nothing more tired than looking at a website full of royalty free images. It’s one way to differentiate your business from the legions of people using the same free stock images.

3. Unused Features
If you’ve got a blog on your website, make sure you use it. If blogging has turned out to be more than you can manage, remove it. The same goes for news feeds, newsletters, video galleries and anything else requiring consistent updates. If you’re advertising your social media profiles, make sure you’re making regular updates. It’s just not impressive to visit a Facebook page with nothing on it. While your web designer may have convinced you to include them, you’re doing more harm than good if you have idle features on your website.

4. Usability Issues
If your visitors can’t figure out how to navigate your website or they can’t find your contact details, you’ve got a big problem. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your information being presented in an obvious way. A clever website design will ensure people can intuitively find their way around your website.

5. Music
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Remove all auto music from your website. It universally drives people mad.

6. Flash
I know there are applications for Flash but they’re few and far between. Unless you have a very specific business reason to include Flash on your website, don’t be coaxed to put it on.

7. Designer Portfolio
Make sure the design of your website suits your business, not fills your designer’s dance card. Designers are creative people and like to explore new concepts and try new ideas. That’s great if what you need falls in line with the designer’s wish list for their own portfolio. Don’t feel obligated to do what they want. Remember, it’s your website and your business.

Moving towards Asset Based Marketing
A website is no longer an accessory to your business; it’s a vital marketing tool. When good design and good copy are both present, your website becomes an asset to your business attracting new leads and increasing your brand value. A website design not suited to your organisation, however, can have the opposite effect and drive prospects away. Design and content go hand in hand. Make sure both of them support your business.

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