Top 7 Web Design Do's & Don'ts For Website Success

There are so many things to consider for a new website, from the design itself to making sure it will be a helpful tool to inform customers and increase leads. Our experts have provided their short list of our top web design recommendations for businesses creating their first website or thinking about a website redesign.

utilize consistent website branding.
Web Design Tip #1: Remember Your Website is an Extension of Your Brand

Before creating a new website, it’s important to establish your brand’s colors, visuals and messaging. Following brand guidelines will give your business a consistent look, and your style and tone should be carried over to other platforms, like social accounts for your business.

If you’re just starting out and you don’t have a logo or brand guidelines, we recommend prioritizing this before your web design. Branding is one of the top things to consider for a new website, and it will help your business stand out and be recognizable to customers. Plus, you don’t want to have to change your look and redesign your website shortly after launching, so make sure you feel good about your style and how it will connect with your audience.

Branding and Web Design Do’s & Don’ts

checkmark. Do: Follow a brand guide that outlines your brand colors, visuals and style.
x.  Don’t: Add unnecessary colors and graphics that aren’t consistent with your brand’s style and look.

checkmark. Do: Focus on a voice and messaging for your website content and callouts that follows your brand goals and will engage your audience.
x.  Don’t: Write content that is unnecessary, too technical to understand or irrelevant to your key audience.

checkmark. Do: Maintain a professional, consistent overall look and style throughout your website.
x.  Don’t: Avoid using generic stock photo imagery or content not relevant to your brand.

web designs shouldnt distract users from goals.
Web Design Tip #2: Simplify and Organize Your Design to Optimize Performance

The goal of every business is to increase profits, so we encourage clients to keep this objective in mind for any landing page. There are two major things to consider for a new website that can help you earn more purchases and conversions: impactful writing and prominent action points throughout the site. There are also some essential homepage elements you’ll want to include, and you should focus on one or two obvious call-to-action (CTA) items and lead people to taking those desired next steps.

Website copy on the homepage should be simple and persuasive. Let them know why you’re the answer to their problem and how they can get in touch with you. Too many people think they need to describe everything about their product or service to win over their customers, but this is unnecessary for someone in the beginning stages of the buying process. If you overwhelm them with too much information up front, it could deter them from contacting you.

A good website design and navigation should lead a user to the desired content, not send them on a scavenger hunt. Make your CTAs clear so the user knows exactly how to fulfill the necessary action on their own – such as purchasing or making an appointment, or contact you so they can learn more. Adding a prominent button, form or visual on the page will help you generate more leads by making it easy for visitors to convert.

Goal-Oriented Web Design Do’s & Don’ts That Help You Earn More Leads

checkmark. Do: Organize the main navigation to reflect your business’s primary services and priorities.
x.  Don’t: Include ALL of your service options within the navigation that could potentially confuse or overwhelm the user.

checkmark. Do: Create areas of focus and a sense of hierarchy within your content by segmenting subcategories into subfolders under related areas of the website.
x.  Don’t: Clutter your pages by trying to provide too much content and information at once.

checkmark. Do: Tell your potential customers why you’re the best option and make it easy for them to take action or contact you.

x.  Don’t: Be afraid to ask for the sale or make it difficult for your customers to know how to get in touch or take the next step.

checkmark. Do: Prioritize your goals and create multiple paths or opportunities to direct the user to convert.

x.  Don’t: Overwhelm the user with too many CTA options that could complicate the user path. On the flip side, don’t rely on having your key conversions in only one place either.

design for the user experience.
Web Design Tip #3: Always Keep Your Audience’s Interests and Customer Experience in Mind

One of our web design recommendations that usually surprises our clients is to find your niche and narrow down your focus to a specific segment of your most loyal customers. You should only have these users in mind when you’re considering things for a new website design. Why? Because websites cannot please everyone, so you will want to prioritize the customers that are most likely to convert.

By getting into this customer mindset and thinking about your audience first, you’ll be able to give the user a better experience and enhance your brand integrity. Based on your product or service provided, there are many things to consider for your new website that could help the customer journey. For example, if you provide a home service that requires fast action, such as pest control or HVAC, you’ll want to assure the customer that you’re qualified for the job and can be trusted in the home. Even more important is a prominent CTA that lets users contact you or schedule an appointment quickly since no one wants to deal with bugs in their home or a broken A/C unit. Services with a longer consideration period, like building websites or buying homes, should have more accessible touch points on the website that lets the customer get to know your business on a deeper level while always reassuring them why you’re qualified for the job and giving them the opportunity to reach out when they decide they’re ready.

At Blue Compass, we perform a user experience audit that will take all these ideas and more into consideration before we start designing your new website. With UX, or user experience research, you’ll be able to better serve your customers with a web design that’s customized with their thoughts and desires in mind.

Web Design Do’s & Don’ts for a Better User Experience

checkmark. Do: Keep your best and most loyal customers in mind when creating your new web design.
x.  Don’t: Design a website that attempts to please everyone - usually this will not grab anyone’s attention.

checkmark. Do: Explain your services in a way that provides the user with a valuable solution.
x.  Don’t: Focus too much on overselling or getting too technical and caught up in your processes.

checkmark. Do: Guide the user to take the next step or encourage them to take a desired action.
x.  Don’t: Expect a new site user to know the best way to navigate your website.

responsive web design is essential.
Web Design Tip #4: Mobile Usability Needs to be a Priority

Your website must be responsive to all devices! When choosing which web design and development company you work with, mobile usability should be a top priority. Creating website layouts for multiple devices may require additional web development, quality assurance testing before launch and more things to consider for your new website upfront, but we guarantee it will be worth it later. People are spending more and more time on smartphones, and if someone lands on your website and it’s not mobile-friendly and easy to use, they will quickly find another business to give them what they need from the device they prefer. Follow our responsive web design recommendations below for mobile success.

Responsive Web Design Do’s & Don’ts

checkmark. Do: Prioritize the users’ tasks based on mobile use - you won’t be able to showcase as much in a smaller space, so your essential information and CTA’s should come first.
x.  Don’t: Assume the user journey is consistent across all devices and they will be able to find what they need without you pointing them in the right direction.

checkmark. Do: Adjust the size and function of interactive elements for use on smaller devices, such as trimming down buttons or adding a compact hamburger navigation menu.
x.  Don’t: Settle for a design that offers a poor mobile experience or a non-responsive website that users need to manually adjust on smaller devices.

optimize your website for users and search engines.
Web Design Tip #5: Take Steps to Make Sure Your Website Will Show Up in Search Results

When we create new designs, one of our biggest website recommendations is to consider search engine optimization (SEO). A website not optimized for search results will be difficult to find online, and is one of the most common website redesign mistakes we notice. After all the time, money and effort you invest in a new web design, you’ll want everyone to see it!

We understand not all businesses can fully invest in a professional SEO strategy and implementation, but our website recommendation is not to ignore it completely. A few SEO items to consider for your new website to increase your ranking chances are purposeful keywords, an internal linking strategy and engaging content. These basic SEO best practices can help your business show up in search engine results.

Web Design Do’s & Don’ts That Impact SEO

checkmark. Do: Perform keyword research to see what language people use to search for your business – many people think they know what keywords or phrases their target audience uses to find them, but the research might surprise you.
x.  Don’t: Create content without a strategic approach that ignores what keywords or related topics would be beneficial to your audience.

checkmark. Do: Write long-form content on your website that provides value to your website users.
x.  Don’t: Have unnecessary content that doesn’t serve a purpose or pages with almost no information - search engines usually prefer pages with at least 500 words.

checkmark. Do: Invest in SEO if you have the means - best practices are always changing, and relying on professionals to perform keyword research and write quality content and schema can increase your rankings in search.
x.  Don’t: Ignore Google’s search engine optimization recommendations that could help your website could rank better in search results.

collect data to measure website performance.
Web Design Tip #6: Take Advantage of Data Tracking Capabilities to Understand Your Website Users

One of the huge advantages of digital is that you can track almost anything, including the success of your new design! Once you’ve launched your website, we suggest using Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Analytics to measure its performance and gather information about how your users are exploring the new site and interacting with the design. This step is essential to website success, but it can be complicated to do on your own. Setting up conversion tracking in GTM and making sure your codes are firing correctly on your website might be a job for the professionals to tackle so you know you’re gathering accurate and valuable information.

Once your website tracking is set up, there are many metrics businesses can monitor to understand user behavior and learn what elements of your design and digital efforts are performing well. The more you know, the more you can improve your site, optimize your content to fit your audience and create a better user experience.

Data Tracking Reveals Web Design Do’s & Don’ts

checkmark. Do: Set up GTM and Analytics on your website after launch, and make sure if you’re hiring professionals they know how to filter out spam and your business’ employee traffic.
x.  Don’t: Miss out on the opportunity to get helpful data on how your users interact with your site.

checkmark. Do: Regularly monitor and check in on your website metrics so you can check for trends and successful web pages.
x.  Don’t: Set it and forget it.

consult with a professional.
Web Design Tip #7: Consider Hiring Professional Help

While there are resources you can use to create your own, and it can be costly to hire out, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of doing a website yourself vs. working with professionals.

Creating your own can sometimes be just as expensive long-term with the added plug-ins, updates and unnecessary headaches that come with do-it-yourself web builders. Working with an experienced team is generally costly upfront, but can save you from mistakes and set you up for success for the long haul. Working with a team that can help you show up in search and put tracking elements in place can get your site in front of more users faster. If you want your website to appear professional and provide a memorable user experience, we recommend a web design that doesn’t follow the DIY templates.

When choosing a web design and development team, make sure you’re asking questions about the process and clarifying expectations. Along with the big items like timeline and budget, you’ll want to cover how involved you’d like to be in the website process, whose role it will be to provide content, implement the subject matter into the content management system (CMS), what information they’ll need from you and more. Finding the right fit can take some time, so make sure you hire a team you’ll be able to cooperate and have open communication with.

Once a website is launched, don’t expect to never hear from your web design and development agency. Your website should be a transforming tool for your business that changes over time depending on your business model, customer feedback, user data, technology updates and more. At Blue Compass, our team is proactive about letting our website clients know when there’s new development updates or best practices, and our clients know they don’t have to worry about these technical issues on their own.

Choosing a Web Designer Do’s & Don’ts

checkmark. Do: Research and get quotes from a variety of web builders to find the best fit for your needs.
x.  Don’t: Assume the agency will be able to set up everything if you have little wiggle room on your schedule and budget - if you’re more involved, the process may be more efficient.

checkmark. Do: Consult with an expert if you choose to create your own DIY website to see at what stage you may need professional assistance.
x.  Don’t: Allow the time you focus on creating your website interfere with your other business goals.

checkmark. Do: Spend time creating or working with a professional to help you produce a website that represents your business and is something you’ll be proud of!
x.  Don’t: Let your website sit idle after launch with no updates or improvements – part of a successful website is making changes based on feedback or user data.

checkmark. Do: Think long-term and plan ahead for making content updates - ask questions and weigh the pros & cons of each content management system (CMS) where you’ll have access to make changes on your website after launch.
x.  Don’t: Assume all content management systems are made the same. When you’re working in a user-friendly CMS, you can easily make adjustments to keep your site up-to-date.

Contact Blue Compass For More Web Design Recommendations & Expertise

Let our web design and development experts be your guide to creating a successful, user- and mobile-friendly web design. Blue Compass offers flexible options for businesses looking for website assistance, market and user research and other steps in the process of launching a website. Contact our team to see how we can help you elevate your next website and grow your business.

Blue Compass Digital Marketing Specialist, Mallory Cates
Mallory Suntken

Mallory double majored, earning her B.S. in Marketing and Management from Iowa State University. She writes SEO-focused content pieces, creates effective digital marketing campaigns and executes social media and SEO campaigns to drive traffic back to clients' websites. Mallory is always eager to learn more about the latest trends in SEO and all things digital marketing and loves taking on new challenges. She has been featured in several blogs for her social media and content marketing expertise.