In this week’s guest post, Erica Bell from Business.com is our navigator through the muddy waters of web design.

Getting a company going is tricky. From picking the right business and domain name to hiring new employees, the whole process can be overwhelming. The same goes for the launch and relaunch of a website. Unless you’ve launched a site before, needing to know the ins and outs of an effective landing page or business blog may seem far away. From large corporations to small business, web design blunders can happen. Don’t let them happen to you. When designing your website, here are 4 things you’ll want to avoid.

Doing Too Much

Too much design and too much content can be damaging to your website and your business. Save the lengthy copy for product pages or the company blog. You want to make sure your website loads quickly so you don’t lose visitors. Having too many technical tricks can slow things down and cause a poor user experience. LogoGarden says, “Research shows that you have just three seconds to communicate your message on a web page to visitors before they’ll click away.” Don’t lose someone because they spent that time waiting for your site to load. A clean message and a few relevant images or a single video are the best way to spark interest and encourage your visitor to stay on the page.

Becoming Negligent

Having current, relevant information on your site should be of the utmost important. Customers will look at a website before buying to do research about what they are looking for. Making sure your pricing, stock and information are current is essential. In fact, 83% of U.S. consumers go online to research products before buying those items in brick-and-mortar stores, according to a 2012 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a professional services firm. Being current doesn’t just apply to products, your blog needs to be updated at least once a week. What you choose to write about is up to you, but make sure it’s relevant. As a final note, don’t ignore spelling and grammar. Poor spelling and grammar could drive readers away.

Being Inconsistent

Just as you want your blog to be relevant, you want posting to be on a consistent basis. Consistency doesn’t just apply to your activity on the site; it applies to every aspect of a good web design. You don’t want to confuse your customers or readers. They shouldn’t feel lost when clicking from one page to the next because you’ve decided to change the font and colors. From each page’s layout to a familiar font, you want to make sure you’re consistent on your website. Place your logo in the same spot on each page, use the same colors and fonts, and keep the design of each page relatable to the next.

Hiding Links/Text

Make sure to include a relevant anchor text on your links. This will ensure that the reader knows where they are going by clicking on the links. Not only that, linking with anchor text will create SEO benefits for the external site where the link is pointing. Don’t cloak your links either. People like being able to see where exactly they are going in their browser’s status bar. Use a contrasting color and/or underlining to indicate the word or phrase is a link. You should also design your website so that after a link has been clicked, it changes color. Clicked links that change color help the user to locate where he/she is more easily, making sure not to end up visiting the same pages unintentionally.

When designing a website, you want to focus on branding and the user experience. After all, the potential customer is the one who will be visiting, navigating, and spending time on your site. Keep things clean and concise to avoid over doing the design. Interesting, relevant and current information from contact info to product copy is essential and not something to be forgotten. The content of your website plays an important role in its success and the design is just the start. Startup websites and re-launched websites want to stand out and simplicity can help to do just that.

Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as web design and internet providers. She is a web content writer for Business.com.

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