There’s really no right or wrong way to design or maintain a website—certainly, a wide range of functionality and style preferences work well for different business types and purposes.
But there are a few particular “oopsies” or omissions that truly don’t work well across most industries and websites, because they end up hurting businesses’ image, traffic or sales.
Here are some of the most common website mistakes that hurt businesses—plus what to do to avoid them (or fix ‘em if you’ve got ‘em!).
Avoid these common mistakes on your website:
Not only do broken links appear unprofessional to your website visitors (and give the impression that your website is out-of-date), they can hurt your SEO, as search engines also assume the site isn’t regularly updated.
Unfortunately, Squarespace, our favorite platform, doesn’t have a built-in broken link checker (…yet!). But there are several free broken link checkers available online, like this one. We recommend running a weekly(-ish) report to be aware of and fix any broken links that may have come up on your site.
Why do links break? The URL may have had a typo when you entered it; the page may have been taken down; or the URL to that page may have been changed (this is why it’s so important to properly publish your blog post URLs from the beginning 😄).
In the era of spell-check, it’s pretty frowned upon to run a website laden with typos. Sure, the occasional mistake now and then is only human! But to give the best first impression of your website and business, we recommend paying special attention into your website copywriting and editing.
Reading through an otherwise professional-looking website and coming across a blatant typo instantly reduces the quality and authority of the website/business for many readers.
We like to think of it this way: put the same level of detail and care into your website as you do into your business products and relationship with your clients—because your website is a reflection of both of those things!
A few tips for avoiding typos on your website:
Write your website updates or blog posts in Google Chrome, which has a built-in spell-check feature and will underline any misspelled words.
Proof-read, proof-read, proof-read. Unfortunately, not all typos are caught by spell-check, as they may be correctly spelled, but misused or out of place. Some of the most common typos are simply omitted words the writer forgot to add as they were typing.
Have someone else review your work too. An extra pair of eyes may catch something yours didn’t.
With an ever-growing percentage of web searches occurring on mobile devices, it’s not in your best business interest to design a website that looks great on desktop… but is choppy or illegible on mobile.
One of the reasons we recommend Squarespace as a web-hosting platform is that all of their site templates are mobile-friendly by default. This can save you plenty of time and $$ hiring a web developer to make your site mobile responsive after-the-fact.
We also suggest that before publishing any new page or blog post you confirm the appearance on mobile (Squarespace has a useful mock-up of this in their editing interface). Sometimes imagery may display differently or text may line break differently on mobile than you intended, and it’s good to be able to catch this before you hit publish.
A favicon is the small icon that appears in browsers, specific to your website. In the screenshot below you can see the favicons for Google, Facebook and Five Design Co.
Favicons also show up in your browser’s bookmarks bar, browsing history and other places across the web. Customizing your favicon adds to the professionalism and branding of your website, as well as helps visitors to recognize the site in a list of bookmarked pages or a window of many open tabs.
If you don’t upload a custom favicon, your site will use a default icon—for example, sites built on Squarespace will use this default cube icon. (Recognize it?)
Learn more about designing and adding your own favicon.
Visitors (aka potential customers) need to be able to find their way around your website easily.
Most people visiting your website (especially for the first time) will have certain questions they’re trying to answer. It’s a good idea to think through the types of questions your audience will have as they’re looking through your website—and then make sure those answers are available and easy to find!
Unfortunately, an otherwise beautiful and informative website ends up being significantly less useful if the user can’t easily find their way to what they’re looking for—and they leave the website before finding it. ☹️
Be sure to use a clearly structured and labeled navigation bar, with plenty of references throughout your website to the various pages visitors may like to go.
No way to “get more”
Your website is a prime opportunity to connect visitors with a range of content and offers that may be relevant and useful to them.
For example, you may have come to this website looking for information on setting up a new blog, and additionally ended up discovering content on how to optimize SEO for your blog, source photography for your website, and promote your blog content on Pinterest.
Be sure your website offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to connect with more of what they’re interested in. That could be:
contacting you via a contact form
signing up for free articles via your newsletter opt-in
easily finding related content via internal linking
connecting with you on social platforms
downloading a freebie you offer
participating in a course or challenge you’ve created
purchasing products or services from you!
Need a helping hand?
We do website reviews, customization & updates. That means: we take a look at your site, let you know how it can be improved to meet your business goals—and then make those updates for you.