It’s 2020 and a website is no longer a novelty; it’s a necessary tool for any serious business. Making that website attractive and easy to navigate is a must, and luckily, website design has evolved to the point that the task can be accomplished without too much difficulty.
Too many people see design as “making things pretty,” but it is so much more than that as can be seen by the too many websites that plague visitors with annoying, confusing or difficult design elements. While tastes vary, there are some website misdemeanors that every accounting firm should avoid in the quest for a visually pleasing and effective site. Prime among that list are these design disasters:
- Clutter. Bringing a wealth of information to site visitors does not require adding a host of widgets and other distractions. News updates, social media feeds, sidebars, recent blog posts, special offers…these are valuable assets but using them in bulk only makes things messy and the visual equivalent of a hoarder’s basement. Choose what’s most important and limit the features that appear on each page. Arriving at your website should feel pleasant and peaceful, not lead to confusion and a deep desire to binge watch Tidying up with Marie Kondo.
- Too many fonts. Just because you have scores of fonts at your disposal doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Explore them; use them; love them! But if you use them all in the same place, you risk your site looking like it was designed by a fourth grader who’s just discovered the special effects menu in PowerPoint. Two or three different fonts that work well together is the maximum most sites can utilize gracefully for a consistent and attractive look. And keep in mind that legibility is your goal, so don’t get too fancy or playful with the ones you choose.
- Too little information. Minimalism is a lovely thing, and white space can be your friend. However, avoid getting too creative or cute when naming tabs for navigation. Keep your main navigation bars clean and easy to figure out otherwise you will simply annoy visitors and drive them away from your site. When you ask for information, explain what will happen. Don’t make visitors wonder what will happen next.
- Lame stock photography. Great photographs and images are easily available in the internet age, so take advantage of it. Hire a photographer, use images you prepared yourself or source from the wide range of wonderful and unique stock photos that exist today. There is no reason to use an image that’s generic, overused or just not very good on your website.
- Blurry graphic content. Have you ever noticed a website with a blurry logo, chart or other graphic? Of course you have! It’s truly shocking how many websites contain graphic content that’s either blown up beyond the appropriate size or blurry to begin with. It is possible that site owners think, “It’s the image we want to use, and no one will notice if it’s a little blurry.” But we do notice, and we think less of the brands that use them.
- Auto-playing video content. Video content is a fantastic element to include on your site, but nothing spikes bounce rates like auto-playing one. Fortunately, this is less common than it used to be, but videos set to auto-play are an audible assault that often embarrasses the visitor (because it disturbed others in the room) and feels like a violation of autonomy and control. Offer video, but do not force it on your site visitors; let them choose when and where they want to enjoy it.
The choices you make in designing your website have a powerful impact on the impression visitors form of it (and by extension, of your firm). Choose wisely to create one that will make visitors speak highly of you rather than forming a less than ideal reputation of your firm based on our poor website choices.
About the Author:
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk (like rustic without the “t”) is the founder and owner of bbr companies llc. After having built a widely recognized and respected marketing firm, bbr marketing, she decided to make a big change in 2017 and scale her business back so she could focus on what she does best and brings her the most joy – strategic marketing planning and outsourced CMO-level services for professional services firms and other businesses. Most firms can benefit from the input of a seasoned, experienced strategic marketer, but don’t need or want to invest in that resource full-time. This way business leaders can focus on what they do best with the knowledge that their marketing (and often their marketing team) is being managed by an expert with their strategic plan always in mind. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.