9 Things To Avoid When Building Your Small Business Website

It can be hard to know what you should look for in website design for your small business. Do you really know what aspects of website design are good and which you should avoid? Most of us know that some websites have frustrating, distracting, or unattractive design elements. You’ve probably encountered at least one website which was so ugly or hard to use that you immediately clicked off.

You don’t want that to be your website. If you own a small business, you need people to stay on your site and keep coming back. Your website design shouldn’t make people click away.

Small Business Website Design Elements You Should Avoid

Most people hate these common website design elements. Any good web designer knows to avoid these features, but they still pop up on many websites. If you want your small business website to succeed, avoid these negative design elements:

1. Music auto-play

When music automatically begins playing on a website, it can be startling and very unpleasant. The website visitor might be in a quiet office, already listening to music or a video, or simply hate the music that plays. Music is distracting and doesn’t add to your website design. Automatically playing music will often make visitors click away from your website immediately.

2. Pop-ups

Website visitors hate pop-ups. A lot of websites continue to use pop-ups and many have started using them again after a long break. Unfortunately, no one likes pop-ups and repeat visitors will get turned off when they encounter the same annoying element every time they visit your website.

3. Busy Background Images

Loud images can work well as website backgrounds. If the image loads quickly and doesn’t distract from your content, you don’t need to worry. However, a slow-loading or distracting background image is a huge no-no, so try to keep it simple.

4. Links opening in new windows

Sometimes you want a link to open in a new window. If that’s the case, you can easily right-click and select that option. However, when your links automatically open this way, visitors end up with endless windows open and can’t easily find the original page. Make links open in the same tab so that visitors can easily navigate back to their original page using the back button.

5. Hidden links

It’s always confusing when your cursor is hovering over a webpage and suddenly a new window opens. Links should be visible and you should want to click them. Make sure that your links are obvious and your visitors can tell what’s a link and what’s just text.

6. Animations

Animations can look good with certain website designs, particularly if they’re relevant to the website. Are you an animator or a graphic designer? If you are, an animation might help sell your skills. But if your product isn’t art-based, avoid animation elements.

7. Odd fonts

Yes, you can use a creative font to express your personality. But remember that a lot of fonts may be hard to read or look ugly to certain visitors. You could risk loss of interest if the wrong font is selected. Sticking to clean, web-safe fonts is a good idea if you want your website to look professional.

8. Moving text

Generally, you should avoid scrolling, flashing, or blinking text. It might work if the moving text is subtle, but usually it’s just distracting. It’s true that it will catch people’s attention, but is that worth it if the text annoys them and makes them leave your website?

9. Pages that are too long or wide

It might seem ridiculous, but many websites still use excessively long and wide pages. Most people use screens that are 15 to 17 inches in size. If your website loads huge pages, visitors will have to scroll across and down the page to see all of your content. It might seem lazy, but many visitors will click away in these circumstances.

The Exceptions To These Website Design Rules

You should generally avoid these unattractive and annoying design elements. However, there are exceptions to the rule. We’ve mentioned some of these exceptions above but every website is different and there are various reasons why these elements might work for you. If you really think one of these website design elements suits your site, you could be right!

When you’re not sure about your small business website design plans, reach out to your website designer or online marketing specialist. You can also get a second opinion from family, friends, other business owners you know, or regular customers. User feedback is always helpful for website design.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we provide you with expert website design services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.

How To Plan For A Website Design: A Guide For Non-Developers

The planning stage is the most important part of any small business website design project. When working with a website designer, you have to clearly describe your ideas and desires so they can create the website you want. The designer has to describe their ideas as well. By offering you various options and examples, they can show you what your website might look like.

Every design has three key parts. There’s the actual design, which is how the website appears and how it feels to use the website. Then there’s the content, which is the text, images, and videos which will make up the final website. Finally, there’s the functionality, which is how the website works. Stay mindful of all three of these parts when you’re working with your website designer. Remember also that your plans will likely grow and evolve as your designer learns about your business and figures out how to communicate your vision online. Strong communication is an important part of making this design relationship work and creating the perfect website.

There are some essential website design tips for small businesses which make it easier for you to work well with your designer. As a team, you can create a fantastic website with the help of a shared vision, strong communication, and good planning.

1. You don’t need the perfect idea

Your designer doesn’t need you to have an exact vision for your website. Your website designer will probably be happy to take creative control if you aren’t sure what you want, so don’t be afraid to let them do their thing.
Tip: Request some samples of the designer’s previous work and check out their own website. This will help you figure out whether you like their style or not.

2. Offer your designer examples of what you like

Clear visual examples are so helpful in the website planning process. Take a look at various websites and take note of what you like. Make a list of links, including information about what you specifically liked about that site, and give it to your designer.

Tip: Check out your competitors’ websites for design ideas, but don’t limit yourself to them.

3. Don’t branch out too much

Examples are very helpful, but too many examples can be confusing. Your designer may find it hard to pinpoint what you want, and you’ll pay for the time they spend checking out hundreds of websites.

Tip: Aim to send between three and five design examples to your designer, along with notes describing what you like about each design.

4. Get specific about what you like

Tell your website designer specifically what you want and need on your website. Unless you’re clear that you like the color scheme on website one, the layout of website two, and the use of images on website three, your designer will have to guess what’s appealing to you about each one.

Tip: Include specific comments detailing what you like about each link. Is it the layout? The content? A certain feature? The aesthetic?

5. Explain what you don’t like

You might come across a common design element that you really don’t like. If that’s the case, let your designer know. Don’t wait until it crops up on your own website!

6. Don’t Fall Prey To “Feature Creep”

Feature creep is a common issue in website design and you should avoid it. Feature creep occurs when you suddenly decide that you want to include various new ideas in the design once you see the finished product and expect the designer to work in these new ideas at no extra cost.

If you find yourself saying, “I didn’t want X but now I’m thinking it would look great. It won’t take long to do that, right?” and “I saw a website with Y. Can you quickly add it into my site?” then you might be falling prey to feature creep. The assumption that these changes will be quick and free is the real problem here. Your designer will probably be prepared for some changes and add-ins as your project evolves, but big add-ins, or many little ones, should incur an additional charge.

Your designer wants you to be happy so feel free to describe the changes you want and ask for add-ins if you need them. However, if it’s a big change or a lot of smaller changes, bear in mind that you should be paying for it.

7. Partnership

Just like any other good professional, your website designer will want you to be happy with the product they deliver. However, you play a central part in that process. You need to build a strong partnership by describing what you want your website to look and feel like. Encouraging strong communication will let the planning and website design process work well so you can get your dream website.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we can provide you with expert website design services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.