In the growing world of DIY website design, professional design expertise is being lost to the convenience of templates. There are plenty of pros to using templates. The problem is that end-users don’t have the career experience to implement every aspect of a template correctly.
Fifteen years ago, professional designers intentionally crafted every part of a website. From the header to the footer, every element was constructed with usability in mind. Today, the same elements are being integrated into websites, but often incorrectly. Here are some of those elements and how template users can make better use of them:
A tagline is designed to be memorable, so it makes sense that taglines should be short. However, some taglines end up being incredibly long. Long taglines are not only harder to read on a website, but they don’t stick in a visitor’s mind.
It’s easy to become attached to a tagline that sounds good, but at the end of the day, if it’s not short and sweet, it’s not going to be effective.
- Contact information in the header
Most website templates come with space to put contact information in the header. This is a smart move since Google looks for this information on websites with a Google My Business listing. However, DIY web designers may not be aware that this contact information needs to be text. Uploading an image with your phone number or address doesn’t help a website rank better, and it decreases usability.
Sometimes web visitors don’t want to make a phone call in the moment, and are gathering a list of numbers to call later on. For example, someone searching for a lawyer might gather five or six phone numbers before making a single call. Presenting a number as text, like this Memphis law firm, makes it easy to save the number in a list without having to get a piece of paper.
A phone number displayed as an image makes it impossible for a visitor to copy and paste the number to their list. Visitors might even skip adding a business to their call list just because they can’t copy and paste the number quickly.
There’s something better than text
Text is good, but formatting a phone number for “click to call” is better. This type of formatting turns a phone number into a clickable link that brings the number up in the phone’s dialpad. This won’t make a difference for desktop users, but it will for the 5 billion mobile users in the world.
- Navigation menus
In the DIY website world, a navigation menu seems like the place to squeeze in as many links as possible. From a professional designer’s point of view, a navigation menu should be intentionally designed to promote the most important pages on a website.
The structural needs of navigational menus can get complex. It’s important that a complex menu system be designed intentionally by someone with design experience. Unfortunately, even experienced designers fall into some common traps like using the split-button approach.
The split-button approach makes the category landing page available as a link, and uses an arrow to house multiple category choices. This looks good from a design standpoint, but isn’t user friendly at all. Mobile users suffer from what’s called “fat fingers” and have a difficult time clicking on small arrows.
A drop-down menu with a sub-menu isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly better than the split-button approach.
- Stock photos
Stock photos started out as an affordable way to add professional imagery to a website. In the beginning, the images were new. Today, we’ve seen them all. Visitors are tired of seeing people in business suits wearing headsets, shaking hands, and looking at financial charts.
The creator of boagworld nails it. “Like IBM blue, certain stock imagery has been so overused that they have become meaningless. It conveys no information of value and [carries] no positive emotional message.” With literally millions of wonderful, unique images available through websites like Shutterstock, there’s no reason to use bland, cliché stock photos.
Professional pictures are worth more than a thousand words – they’re also worth the licensing fees set by their creators.