[is-gateway name=”HicksNewMedia” id=”INFOtainmentNews”]Business websites, at their best, are a fantastic tool for customers; they’re easily accessible, can provide vital information, encourage custom and can offer a platform for sales. In short, every business should have one.

But with so many websites jostling for attention on the World Wide Web, it is important to get key design elements spot-on in order to stand out from the crowd and be a fantastic tool that’s desired and used by customers.

The best and easiest way of achieving this is by not committing some of the more common design missteps that all too many businesses seem to make. Here are five of them and how you can avoid them on your company’s website:

Style over Substance

Every business wants their site to look stylish. However, there is a fine balance that each site must negotiate between looking appealing and looking like you are trying too hard.

Having introductory videos, flash presentations and accompanying music might sound like a great idea that adds to the slick presentation of a company’s website, but with the average attention span of the online user being incredibly low (minutes if not seconds), most won’t have the patience to entertain such a bombardment on their senses and won’t bother exploring any further what the site offers.

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

Content organisation is essential to any website. If the customer can’t find the information they want then the site is not fit for purpose.

A well designed business website should be built around delivering content clearly and efficiently. Users desire navigation tools that are clearly identifiable, structured and organised in a manner so that they are never more than a few clicks away from accessing the information they want. If they don’t get this, users will feel as though they are traversing a labyrinth, get frustrated, and give up – meaning you’re losing out on potential conversions and future business.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Using images that complement a website effectively is crucial to good web design; a statement qualified by the fact that six out of ten internet users digest information visually.

Images that have a rough fit with any business can be found in abundance on the web where there are vast stockpiles of pre-existing stock images based any theme. The trouble of sourcing images via this easy option is that today’s customers are too accustomed to spotting them. This means sites using stock imagery generally don’t have the seal of authenticity that can help it compete against rival websites. For the best results, take that extra time to produce your own images as this will look authentic, plus it won’t get you in hot water over copyright infringements.

Don’t Be Scared of Clarity

Many businesses feel compelled to fill every space of their site with content, ensuring there is always something to visually stimulate the user. This, however, can often work against the site rather than in its favour.

White space can help a site look less busy and help the eye focus on key content; titles should be in bold text, colours should complement and not clash, and buttons leading to important sections should be clearly ‘clickable’. Effective website design is clean, clutter free and simple, and not just an opportunity for a web designer to showcase the box of tricks they’ve learnt.

Are there any web design faux pas not included that you find off-putting, jarring or distracting? If so, please share in the comments section below!

Blogger and prolific Internet user Stevie Carpenter considers some of the design techniques that are harming the effectiveness of business websites. He writes for GKBC.

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