You know you need to get more leads from your site. You need leads to continue growing your business. But you’re not sure exactly how to get them. There’s a right way to approach the process, and a wrong way. In this article, I’m going to cover 12 common website redesign mistakes to avoid.

1. Focusing more on design than content

It’s almost 2020. Websites can do awesome things, and that can be an easy trap to fall into. Consider if a video header or rotating banner actually add anything to what you’re saying. Don’t just add design elements because they look cool. Use them to emphasize points or draw attention to a specific area. Otherwise, you’re just adding confusion for the user and slowing down page load times.

2. It’s unclear what you want the site visitor to do

Continuing our first point, if it’s not clear what you want a website visitor to do, you’re in danger of losing them. Visitors come to a site with a goal in mind. If it’s not easy for them to figure out how to achieve that goal, they’re not going to stick around. Some examples of why a visitor comes to a site are:

  • They’re curious about the business
  • They want information on a specific product or service
  • They want to track down contact info
  • They’re looking for social proof to build trust with your business

Consider what your site visitor’s goals are and make it easy to achieve them. Don’t overwhelm visitors with too many buttons or calls to action.

3. Not designing the site for your most profitable customer / visitor

Traffic is not the “end all be all” of internet success. You need to make sure that your site is attracting the right kinds of visitors – those most likely to convert to customers. Consider your ideal customer’s persona. What kinds of content would they find valuable? What would they be looking for? What words would they use to describe their problems? Take these things into account as you’re laying out your pages and drafting content.

4. You didn’t follow “normal design conventions”

Normal design conventions are popular for a reason. Imagine how confusing it would be for a user to land on a website that scrolls horizontally instead of vertically. It’s likely a user would consider the website broken and move on. Stick with what works. Stick with what people will be expecting and intuitively know how to interact with.

5. You moved everything over from the old site

It doesn’t matter how good your last website redesign was. It has a shelf life of just about three years. Why? Because things change. Your business changes. Customers change how they find service providers. Google changes algorithms. It’s easy to think that you need to bring over every post or page from your own site. But that’s a surefire way to end up with the wrong information on your brand new site. Make the old content (refreshed, of course) earn its way onto the new site. Make sure it’s still relevant and helpful for your audience.

6. Thinking about SEO after you write content

It’s really easy to get ahead of yourself here. In fact, some of the most common website redesign mistakes are made around how SEO is handled on the site. You’re so excited about the great services you can offer a customer that you dive right into writing. Unfortunately, after you spend hours crafting your content, you remember SEO. Your average customer is most likely going to find you as they search for a specific query, or try to find answers to questions. This should be your first step in your website redesign. I recommend thinking through your SEO goals in the preliminary stage of the project. This can include keyword research and competitor analysis. Even better, you can contact actual customers and determine what they are looking for.

7. Trying to sound fancy or smart

I get it. Your business is super important to you. You want to put your best foot forward and be professional. However, the trend in web copy has started to turn more towards conversational tones. Some people theorize that our reading comprehension is nose diving. I like to believe that we are becoming less stuffy and pretentious. Remember, most people are skimming your copy at best. Throwing in difficult words or syntax makes that harder on them. Be direct. Write short, clear sentences. It should go without saying that there are still certain industries that require more formal language. But, the majority of companies can use much simpler language.

Tip: The Hemingway editor is a great tool that scores your writing style for readability.

8. You forgot to test the site on different browsers and devices

If you’ve worked with a developer or an agency to redesign your site, there is no excuse for missing this step. But, if you’ve designed your own site using a Wix or Squarespace type builder, this step is often left out. Don’t make assumptions. Just because the site looks good in Google Chrome on your MacBook, doesn’t mean it will look the same in Internet Explorer on a PC. Your best bet is to test across the following browsers and devices:

  • Mac Computer
  • Windows PC
  • iPhone
  • Android phone
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Edge

9. You ignored redirects

This is another step that easy to overlook if you’ve redesigned a site on your own. Let’s say you changed the URL of a page from /services/ to /what-we-do/. If you forgot to set a redirect and someone had linked to or bookmarked your page, they now see a 404 error. 404’s are frustrating for users, and a large percentage of them result in site exits. Assemble a list of your site’s URLs, then set redirects if they change. If you’re unsure how to do this, many web hosts will actually help!

10. Using non responsive design

Responsive design is a must these days. I’m not going to spend much time on it. If you’re using a theme or a website builder, don’t automatically assume it’s going to be responsive. There’s a big difference between mobile sites and responsive design. Mobile sites have watered down content specifically designed for phones or tablets. Responsive sites serve the same content to every user, regardless of device. Responsive sites will rearrange content based on screen size and browser. They’re the best way to ensure that your site looks good on every device.

11. You don’t continue to add content on a regular basis after the site has gone live

The old “set it and forget it” method is a nice idea. But the internet is changing on a regular basis. Your business is changing too. You’re completing projects, winning contracts, and solving problems at a continual rate. Add this progress to your site. Adding fresh content to your site gives it a nice boost in Google’s rankings. The easiest way to do this is to add a blog where you post articles that answer questions your audience is likely to have.

12. There’s no way to get in touch

It baffles me how often I come across a site that has no means of contacting the company. This is sometimes strategic at the enterprise level. But at the small to medium business level, it’s maddening! If you’re going to invest the time and resources into redesigning your site, make sure the leads have a place to go! Your number should be prominently displayed on all pages. You should also test your contact forms on a regular basis. And finally, make sure someone responds to those leads. A website is a great lead generation tool, but only if it is part of a larger, well designed sales process.

Wrapping up

Have you seen other common website redesign mistakes? Do you have questions about how to avoid the mistakes listed above? Let me know in the comments. I’m happy to answer any questions!

Anna DiTommaso
Founder of Creative80, Anna DiTommaso built the company from the ground up and believes that the key to her success has been cultivating real, meaningful relationships with clients. Anna has appeared in articles on Lifehack, Mashable, Ragan, CEO blog nation, and Business News Daily.