Common Mistakes When Planning a New Website

Jun 07, 2011
website design planning mistakes
Here are some often overlooked essentials when planning a new website. Whether you are redesigning your existing corporate web presence or adding new functionality to improve ROI these 5 points need to be considered and evaluated by the website team.

1. Not effectively reflecting your existing company's credibility

Credibility = trust and if you aren't taking advantage of your organizations history, culture and offline credibility then you should rethink the website strategy. Photos of executives, key staff or the facilities along with addresses are all too often overlooked but add credibility value. Consider writing a company background or history section with how the business came together or perhaps how key products were established. Simple things like using photos of real people rather than less realistic stock images is one way to improve trust and also make it easy for your audience to contact you from any point in your website.

2. Building the website for yourself rather than for your audience

Ignoring your clients and customers is a common mistake. The website shouldn't be a super slick unrealistic display of stock images and Flash animation but a functional easy-to-use tool for your audience to get what they need. Using real photos is the most effective way to promote your organization and the people behind it. Align the website goals based on what your audience goals are and not just what the organizations goals are. The website goal may be to generate more leads, or attract new members, but don’t just build it as a marketing tool, provide your audience value and the marketing will follow.

3. Using print design for your website

It’s important to have cohesive and consistent branding throughout all your corporate material but print doesn't necessary transfer directly to web. For example some typefaces, reverse type, tiny fonts and background colours look great in print but aren't the best choice for web. They can be hard to read and scan which is what most people do online. You and your designers have to also take into consideration colour shift based on different platforms and the variety of monitors. What may look like gold on one screen may look like a pale brown on another. There are best practices for web that should be followed and they won’t necessarily coincide with print.
That all being said it is important to always take into consideration any existing branding material that is being used. Your web designer will need access to these assets when crafting your design concepts so that there is fusion and consistency offline as well as online.

4. Neglecting the content

Neglecting your content and spending the entire budget and resources on design and development is all too common. It’s important to revisit the content writing and messaging which can have a big impact sometimes without requiring a complete redesign.
Here are 3 resources to help analyze and measure your content effectiveness.
This website is ideal for content split testing. Users can vote on 2 versions of a page on your website to rate performance, persuasion effectiveness and converting levels.
We frequently visit website that are written with "me” and "us” focus versus focusing the message on the needs and wants of the prospects using your website.
This free site helps analyze the copy an any page you submit for self-focused words and customer focused words.
This free website rates your copy based on readability and grade level. 
When writing for web if your audience is consumers then aim for a 6 level however if your audience is businesses and professionals aim for level 8.

5. Forgetting usability testing

Usability testing is often not considered with smaller and medium sized website projects due the usually high cost to run these usability tests. Now with you can create some key tasks and demographics, user profiles and get feedback within hours for about $40. It’s a quick affordable service that also provides a video of users trying your website. Often the improvements are small in effort but have a big impact and can generally be overlooked from the team involved because they are so close the project.

About the Author

Tony Tullio

Tony Tullio is a veteran in the interactive business and Director/Founder at Inorbital and always looking for great web apps and useful websites. Let us know what you think about this topic by commenting or rating or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn