Best Pitfalls to Avoid When Designing Your First Website for Your Start-up

For many start-up entrepreneurs, the day their website goes “live” feels like the day their company gets “born.” A website done right the first time can give a huge leg up to a new start-up in terms of attracting investors, customers, partners and media coverage.

A website done wrong, on the other hand, can chart a rocky course ahead for a brand-new business entity. In this post, learn the best pitfalls you want to avoid when designing your start-up’s first website.

Pitfall 1: Leaving off the call to action (CTA)

The “call to action” is the single most important feature on your website. The call to action is exactly what it sounds like. It is your invitation to a website visitor to make contact with you.

Whether they want to ask a question, make a purchase, offer feedback, invest funds, join your team or publicize what you are doing, you definitely want to hear from them!

What to do instead: Be sure to add a “contact me” menu button that is prominently visible in your menu. Also run some tests to be sure the contact page is correct and working before you take your new website live.

Pitfall 2: Not charting the flow of your website information in advance

If you have ever visited a website where every click you made seemed to take you somewhere else you didn’t want to go, you already know the irritation that “clunky mapping” can produce. This is NOT what you want for your first start-up website!

What to do instead: Sit down and map out in advance the path you want your web visitors to take. This is often called “mapping,” “website flow” or “web navigation.” Where should your web visitors start to learn more about what your company does? Where do you want them to end up? Make sure each page of information leads naturally to the next and then the next until they land on a page where they can take action on what they just learned.

Pitfall 3: Failing to test the website’s functionality on all browser platforms

While it would be nice and certainly very convenient if all browsers (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, et al) worked well with one another, the truth is they often don’t. Some plug-ins will only work on one browser. Some browsers default to certain display properties. Launching a website without doing a thorough test run on each browser is nearly a guarantee that web visitors on some browsers will experience errors.

What to do instead: Test, test, test! Make a list of all browsers and recruit fresh sets of eyes to click around on your website on each browser while looking for errors. Find and fix these errors before you launch.

Pitfall 4: Saying too much

Of course your start-up is your brainchild, your baby, your pride and joy, and you want each and every web visitor to know everything there is to know about it. But while you are immersed in your company and industry all day, every day, your visitors may not be. They may be simply overwhelmed with too much information and may leave and not come back.

What to do instead: For each block of text, distill it down to one headline. Bullet-point these headlines as major themes. Challenge yourself to say more with less until you have a streamlined, text-light web presentation.

Pitfall 5: Not including images and graphics

Current web statistics tell us that adding compelling graphics, infographics or images boost website traffic and content interaction by as much as 20 percent. People browsing online today just don’t have time to read through huge chunks of text – and they won’t. They will scan for headlines, study images and then scoot if they don’t find what they are looking for.

What to do instead: Be sure that as you are dialing down on the volume of text (see pitfall #4 for more on this) you are subsequently supplementing with high-quality, attractive and compelling images, graphics, infographics and photos. These will do more to boost traffic and increase visitor interaction with your website than the best-written text ever could.

Pitfall 6: Leaving outdated content on your pages

The one thing you can always count on is change. But if you don’t update your company’s internal changes on your website, you are setting yourself up for frustrated customers and equally frustrated staff.

What to do instead: Be sure your website content is updated regularly by setting alerts in your annual calendar. Also, be sure to change your copyright information to reflect the current year.

Pitfall 7: Selecting an under-powered website maker

Too many webmasters use outdated or under-powered website maker software to build their new start-up website. This ultimately produces a less effective, less competitive site.

What to do instead: Take your time and compare/contrast options. Don’t just go for the lowest bidder – make sure the website maker has what you need. There are tons of website platforms, online store builders, and options for a variety of businesses today. Do your research and choose one that makes the most sense for your business.

Pitfall 8: Not checking up on yourself

Finally, while there are a great many things on your website you can control, you can’t control exterior changes such as browser algorithm updates, software updates or plug-in updates. These changes can sneak up on you and cause your website to produce errors or even crash without ever notifying you about it – unless you check.

What to do instead: You will want to be sure to check up on yourself by re-testing your website regularly on all relevant browsers and in all pertinent areas.

By becoming aware of the most common website pitfalls, you can ensure your start-up’s website launches flawlessly and does its best work for you to attract interested web visitors to your business to buy products/services, invest, partner, and promote what you do!