Blog Post

The Top 6 Mistakes I See When People DIY Their Own Website

Nov 2, 2022 | Building a website

Let me first say, I love having a crack at something. I’m a born problem solver and if there is a problem lying around, then you can bet your sweet bippy, that I’m going to damn well figure it out.

But the difference is, they’re usually things that no one else will see. Like, who cares if I made a dodgy dent in the wall when I put that picture up? No one, because no one can see it.

You know what people will see though? Your website.

So, should you build your own website?

Your website represents your business and if it comes off looking sub par, then guess what? Your business looks sub par too.

Now, you might be saying, “I appreciate your concern Amanda, but I’m pretty tech savvy so I’ll just use one of those website builders like Wix or Squarespace or Divi. So I think I’ll be fine.” And to that¬† I say, if you’ve got an extra eleventy million hours to learn how to use a website builder to the point where you can build a fantabulous website, then I say, all power to you good sir!

But you see, that’s not even the issue here. You can totally learn how to use a website builder if you have the time, the tenacity and enough hair to pull out. But the top 6 mistakes I see most often, don’t have anything to do with technical know how. Should you build your own website? Let’s find out.

These are the most common mistakes I see when people build their own website.

The brand is inconsistent or even absent.

Why is it a problem?

  1. If your brand is messy, then your business looks messy. Your brand is a representation of your business persona and it consists of many elements working together to produce that coherency. A brand includes a logo, font choices, colour palettes, design elements, tone of voice, mission and values and photography. And your website needs to represent that coherency in a visually consistent way. For example, the same font should be used on all main headings, and a different font used for your body text. Your content should not be crowded, and colours should be used strategically.
  2. It negatively impacts user experience and can make it harder for users to use your site. Ie: if you have used a colour for your Call To Action buttons and then use a different colour or style on some of them, a user may not immediately notice it or understand its purpose.

There are too many main menu items.

Why is it a problem?

  1. You are providing too many options to the user, which can lead to confusion. Your goal is to funnel the user into where you want them to go and too many choices can be a bad thing. Good user experience (UX) states about 7 top level menu items is just the right amount, for users to feel comfortable and not overwhelmed.
  2. It can indicate that you don’t have a clear content strategy. If everything is important, then nothing is important. You need to make strategic decisions about what content is most important. For example, what needs to be a main menu item? What content can be tucked away in a sub page? What content can be removed from the menu and made better use of as a Call To Action?

The site doesn’t look right or work properly on mobile and tablets.

Why is it a problem?

  1. It’s just not acceptable for a website to not look great and function great on mobiles and tablets in 2022. Users expect websites to work on their mobile phones. A frustrated user is a potentially lost customer.
  2. Your business looks unprofessional if your website looks wrong on mobile. Blocks of content fold down, to stack on top of each other as the browser viewport gets smaller. When this happens, content can end up out of order, and font sizes, margins and padding among other elements will usually need to be adjusted.

The copy is written in a boring, business-like tone.

Why is it a problem?

  1. It isn’t a problem if your brand is boring and dull. But if your business has an ounce of personality, then do not write your content like you’re applying for a job. Too many businesses are afraid of letting their brand personality show, but it’s part of what helps you to stand out from the crowd. Write your content like you are speaking to your ideal customer, or better yet, hire a copy writer to write it for you.

Don’t forget that brand is much more than just a cool logo and a colour palette. Your brand includes your font choices, your vision and values, your visual tone AND the tone of voice you use when communicating to your customers.

Too much stock photography is used.

Why is it a problem?

  1. You end up looking like an unimaginative, lazy, run of the mill business who is content to look like every other business out there.
  2. Like your written copy, the photography used on your website should be in line with your brand, which means it should reflect you and your business. The odd stock image is fine, but try and keep it to images without people in them. Websites that have had their own brand photography done, come across as more authentic which goes a long way towards to building trust in your customer base.

The content is all over the place with too many pages

Why is it a problem?

  1. Like your main menu items, it shows that you haven’t thought through your content strategy or given enough thought to how your user will move through your website or even make sense of your content. Your business will come off as uncoordinated and messy. You need to think about how your content relates to each other and get inside the head of your user.
  2. If your user is having to click too many time to find the content they’re looking for, they will get frustrated and give up.
  3. It will cause confusion. Your content should be grouped in a logical and expected way. Like anything, there are conventions to how websites are structured and following these conventions will make your users life much easier. For example, put all the shop pages inside the shop. Don’t have pages with the same names, even if they are in different sections. Keep your services pages together.

Bonus mistake: Choosing the cheapest web hosting company

Why it a problem?

  1. If you’ve read my blog post on hosting, then you know that a bad web host has a big impact on how well your site functions. Not to mention having to deal with the lack of available, or useless support people, or an account area that is difficult to use. Do not scrimp on web hosting!

So there you have it. The most common mistakes I see when people decide to build their own website are largely to do with content strategy and branding, which are foundational aspects of anyone’s website. Responsive design is a big one of course and that comes down to technical know how, but everything else is content and branding.

So, should you build your own website? Just like the dodgy hole I drilled into the wall to hang my picture – I learned how to drill the hole, but the end result isn’t anywhere near as precise as if I got someone who knows what they’re doing to drill the hole for me.

Luckily for me, no one can see my mess! But it’s not that easy to hide a website!

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