9 DIY Web Design Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Published On: October 11th, 2019Categories: Web Design1571 words8 min read

Have you thought about changing up your website?

Maybe you wanted to update the theme, or change up the colour palate, or maybe optimise it for SEO?

While these sound like simple quick fixes that can result in more traffic, clicks and conversions, you might end up doing more harm than good.

With the concept of DIY driving many business owners to take matters into their own hands, more and more DIY website platforms, programs and passions are being launched. 

However, settling on design is just one of the hurdles than many DIY web developers face. With issues of font, image selection, speed, SEO and usability all at play, it’s easy to start with good intentions – and end up with a website that resembles a horror movie. 

That’s why we have put together the following 10 tips to help you jump the beginner’s stage with ease and go straight to the pros’ playground.

When it comes to DIY web design, these are the 9 DIY web design mistakes to avoid at all costs.

Mistake #1 – Choosing The First Free Theme

If you are on a budget, then consider using free themes. But this comes with a catch!

You should not be quick to pick the first few options on offer on your chosen platform. Dig around and see what other options are available. 

For instance, WordPress has a range of free themes to choose from that you can use to personalise your website.

Browse WordPress themes here.

Mistake #2 – Creating Too Many Pages

Keep it simple, superstar.

If you have a navigation menu that providers multiple options, then many of your potential customers may leave your website. 

By reducing the number of options you’ll actually be able to increase your chances of keeping visitors onsite and browsing.

Even if you have multiple landing pages or other essential pages, these don’t all need to be accessible through the main navigation. This was noticed by the eCommerce team behind Embrace Australia who simplified their navigation to increase conversions. They note “when you sell products online it can be tempting to try and list them all in the most obvious way. This may end up backfiring. Have a simple navigation with drop down sub menus to catch interest and guide people to your products.”

For instance, you can have your Homepage, About Us, Blog and Contact pages on the navigation menu or any other page as needed.

website page structure

Mistake #3 – Bad Formatting/Too Many Fonts

Have you ever started browsing a website only to be turned off because the font was too small to read, or with too many fonts that clash?

The design choices you make will have a huge impact on your success.

Tips for formatting that encourages engagement:

✔ The paragraphs you use for your content should be spaced evenly

✔ Use no more than 3-5 lines per paragraph

✔ Make use of headings and subheadings 

✔ Focus on one idea per paragraph

✔ Use short sentences

✔ Cut out technical or complicated words and replace with simple language

✔ Use numbers and symbols to break up the eye

✔ Use bullet points 

Arrangement and formatting of text with these tips will be visually pleasing. Even better, it is easy for your reader to skim through and understand more with listicles and bullet points.

Internet users prefer to scan content, so writing with these tips in mind will ensure you are writing for scanners.

Remember, all these tips will mean little if you mismatch fonts. This design choice may make your brand appear amateur while also managing to confuse your reader. 

To solve this problem, try and inject some variation into your text to add more depth to your pages. Play it safe by sticking to two types of fonts; preferably those that complement each other.

Mistake #4 – Low Quality Pictures

When deciding on the content to post, do so based on some lengthy thought and deliberations. 

If you are to edit pictures, don’t crop them beyond recognition. 

Also, avoid using low-resolution images, particularly for a full-screen header. Low quality images may pixelate or blur and reflect poorly on your brand.

Ensure what you pick has the right dimensions for optimal upload speed. You can rely on free tools like Tiny Panda or Compress JPEG to help you compress and edit your images.

Why is this valuable? Compressing images reduces their file size without losing quality of the image. 

This is particularly valuable for eCommerce stores where images can help compel engagement and conversions.

Mistake #5 – Long Loading Times

If you have a lot of high-resolution imagery and videos, then your website is bound to be slow to load. 

The average internet user expects a fast and seamless loading time. In fact, studies have shown that websites that load in 5 seconds (compared to 19 seconds) enjoy 70% longer session times.

Imagine what difference it would make to have people browsing your site for longer?

You can achieve this by doing things such as:

  • enabling caching
  • choosing a more efficient web host
  • Compressing images

You can also get more tips on this matter by consulting an experienced web developer. 

web design loading time

Mistake #6 – Using Stock Imagery

A picture tells a thousand words.

But if that picture is of poor quality, or obviously a stock photo, those thousand words will not be kind.

While stock pictures may come in handy for headers and feature images, their significance is at times overemphasised. You may be hesitant to use a picture of you, but it does make a significant difference, more so if you are the sole employee of your company. 

People respond positively to photos of other people’s faces. So you can have the photos taken by an experienced photographer if required. This will help you to feel proud of the images you use. 

But remember, less is more. Don’t let your brand’s message drown under a sea of images. Finding the balance between the right text and imagery is key to getting the increase in traffic, clicks and conversions you’re after.

With website planning systems like Slickplan able to make web creation a breeze, there’s never been a better time to get your brick and mortar business online.

Or, chat to a member of the Zaaax team to see how your local web design experts can help!

Mistake #7 – Poor Mobile Optimisation

Mobile search is already the majority of search, having overtaken desktop searches. This makes mobile friendly websites one of the key trends heading into 2020.

The volume of mobile data traffic is also estimated to increase by up to seven times its current volume by the year 2021. 

That means that your site should be mobile ready. If not, start investing in this change today.

This was a change made by the roofing team at Domain who changed their approach. They explain “your site visitors want to view your website and pages on their mobile device with the same level of ease as they would on their desktop or laptop. For us this meant making free quotes available above the fold. These little tweaks make a huge difference.”

This means:

✗  Avoid using big images and segregate the text

✗ Ensure that the menus are not just images

✗ Increase font size for smaller screens

✗ Incorporate responsive design

✗ Make CTA buttons obvious

✗ Design for the thumb (with user habits unique compared to traditional desktop behaviour)

smiling woman using mobile optimised website

Mistake #8 – Poor Branding

What does your brand say to your audience?

Is it strong? Powerful? Humorous? Valuable? Quality?

The design choices you make will impact your branding, making this a key consideration for all DIY web designers.

You should rethink your branding if you are opting to use five or more colours on your website. Also, opt for a clear logo that can give your site a professional and credible look. 

The use of many different designs will only confuse website visitors and dilute your perceived value and intent. 

To avoid this problem, keep things simple with complementary colours and copy that portrays your brand as you want it to be portrayed.

According to Facebook advertising expert George Bounatsos, you can align your brand across your entire digital presence to turn good branding into great branding. He explains “this means using the same colours on your social media accounts and email marketing. This will help people associate that one design style with you and establish you in their minds anytime they see your branding choices. That’s how you use the strength of your social profile to fuel your website and vice versa.”

Mistake #9 – Trying To Be Perfect

Many novice DIY web designers tend to do things with the goal of creating the ‘perfect’ site. 

However, seasoned developers know that constant editing and tweaking of their websites is a continuous process. As such, you need to do the best you can and then let the site grow with you and your business.

Don’t stress about getting everything perfect because…well, it won’t be.

Seeing what works and split testing new ways to design your site will be the long road towards a website that looks great, loads quickly and is optimised for mobiles.

What matters most is that you have a functional and presentable website that is out there. So just get started.

And if you need any assistance or advice in your DIY web design journey, feel free to reach out to the team at Zaaax for help and ideas.

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