5 Mistakes Companies Make When Building Their Own Websites from Templates

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With the advent of many website building platforms including Squarespace, Wix and Weebly, many companies have decided to take their website design work in-house.

As a website designer, I'm not against this option but there are several mistakes I've seem many businesses make when choosing to build on one of these platforms.

Here are five mistakes I've seen repeated numerous times across many small businesses. I also offer suggestions for improving designs on these platforms.

1. Copy and pasting content into a template

Upon signing up for services such as Squarespace or Wix, it's easy and tempting to pick a template and simply switch out the predefined images and text with a company's own content.

But here's the tricky thing about templates—they have little to no personality that reflect your business. Furthermore, they appear themed and not personalized. Can you say basic?

Any website design should carry with it personality that matches the company or organization. While templates may be a good place to start, they need much tweaking and adjusting—from picking the right font and colors, to modifying the layout and filling it with the best content.

In the example below of a career recruitment service, the company's content is simply copied and pasted in order to fill in a Squarespace template. The result is that the site doesn't reflect the company's purpose, vision or goals. Actually, by looking at this site, it's hard to determine what those goals are and what the company's vision is. It's just copy and stock images, which brings me to the next mistake on the list.

2. Using stock images that say nothing about your business or vision

The quality of a website's design is limited to the quality of its images. Having great images is essential. Look at any fantastic website and it will be the images or graphics that make it stand apart (though occasionally typography can be used to create beauty without the need for images). But add low quality or unprofessional images and your website appear low quality as well.

Many designers and companies use stock images when building their websites. Even the Acme Design website makes use of stock images, so I'm not against their use, it’s just that stock images should be selected only if they match the company’s work.

In the example of the recruiter website below, the header image on the landing page shows buildings in New York City. While this is a professional and high quality image, it doesn't add to the company's vision.

When selecting stock images for a website, decide on photographs that match your company's mission and work.

 
 

A example of a themed site design (aka copy/paste) vs. a redesign featuring stats and an easy to discover company vision.

On the left, the executive search firm used a template and copied/pasted their content into it. As a result, it looks themed and doesn’t reflect the company’s vision and goals. On the right is a redesign that highlights the firm’s strong stats and makes it easy to discover what the mission and vision of the company is.

 
 

3. Hiding stats that show the strength of your business

Most companies have great statistics to highlight that show the value of their work; it's unfortunate that too often these positive outcomes are buried among paragraphs of copy.

In the recruitment website mentioned above, it takes reading through multiple paragraphs on the About page to discover that the company has a history of placing 67 percent of diversity candidates. Many potential clients may never see this stat, which may influence their decision to work or not work with the recruitment firm.

If you have important stats or experience that needs to be shared (and if you don't, you need to rethink your business), then they need to "pop" on the site and not be buried among copy.

In the above redesign of the recruitment website, statistics are highlighted right on the homepage; there's no need to scroll or read through a lot of copy.

4. Pixelated images or graphics

Similar to number two of this list, I've often seen too many websites use images or graphics that are pixelated and not clear. Just one pixelated image is too many.

5. Lack of engagement

Another area of concern that I often see businesses do when building their websites is a lack of areas for engagement. Some examples include contact pages with only a link and not means for site visitors to engage with the business once they leave the site. This also includes a lack of email sign-up forms, which every company should use because email is the best online method for keeping in touch with customers, clients and anyone else who may want to learn about your work.

6. Bonus: Your site isn't "sticky"

It's important to have a design that keeps people coming back. Great design makes for ease of use in a beautiful, simple to navigate interface. When Google first launched with their minimal design, users returned because Google made it easy to find what they were looking for—an easy method for searching the web.

Sticky sites also make use of all of the items listed above. One great example of increasing recurring site visitors is utilizing email campaigns. Visitors who sign up to receive updates can be sent back to your site for blog posts, updates or news, all through the email campaign. This is a powerful method for offering discounts on products, new client testimonials, or anything else that shows the value of your business.

With the right approach and a lot of attention to detail, along with an understanding of the importance of design, businesses can create beautiful website using templates from services like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly.

At Acme Design, we don’t look for opportunities. We look for problems and we solve those problems for our clients. What problem are you working to solve? 

 
Ash Blankenship