TIV Branding designs and builds websites. Lots of them. We’ve been doing it for about 20 years, so we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping up with the trends and adjusting our strategies as needed. In fact, websites are now our primary service offering because they have become the hub of all of the brand building we do. We build websites and then it goes from there…
Depending on your source, when you Google “What’s the average lifespan of a website” the answer will be anywhere from 2-5 years. Most are closer to the 2 to 2.5-year mark. So chances are you’ll be designing a website in your near future.
Below are the three most common mistakes brands make when designing a website these days.
1. You don’t develop the content first
This is a tough one for folks to get. But since we’ve adjusted our website process to put content development first, we’ve had amazing results and once we explain why we do it that way, people are always on board. It’s one of those chicken/egg conversations. People want to see visuals in order to inspire the content. But in the end, you’re designing a website to build your brand by sharing information. If you don’t let the information guide the design, you’re going to end up prioritizing the look over the valuable info required to make your website a hard-working tool. Either that or you’re going to realize that valuable information wasn’t accounted for in the design and you’ll end up having to find a place to tack it on at the end. My favorite analogy is building a house and then realizing you forgot to put a bathroom in downstairs. That ain’t good.
The other benefits to having the content complete before the design phase begins is it sets the web designer up to…
– Pick out information that could be effectively conveyed in visuals such as infographics.
– Learn about the brand more completely and use that knowledge to guide the look and feel.
– Come back with solutions for the user experience that may not have been considered if design began without the content complete.
2. You try to be too cute with the navigation
When it all comes down to it, you need your website to be easy to navigate. There are certain universal approaches that take any thinking out of the equation and immediately guide your audience to the right place. This doesn’t mean you can’t have compelling and unique visuals, it just means that the path to the information you’re looking to share should be intuitive and based on what your audience is used to. Eliminate that part of the equation and you can be as unique as you’d like to with the rest of the site…you just have to make it easy to get around.
General navigation rules that we tend to stick to unless there’s a really solid reason not to include…
– Account information and sign-in in the upper right corner. I just tried to find an example of a big brand that doesn’t follow this rule. Couldn’t.
– Keep the main top nav as concise as possible, but don’t do so by burying pages in drop down menus and making things hard to find.
– Don’t be afraid to use the footer for important but less sexy things like Careers, Customer Service, etc.
3. You don’t design mobile first
By the time you read this the stats will have changed, so I won’t go there…but you can pretty much guarantee more than half of your website traffic is mobile. So while designing mobile first used to be a trend, it’s now a requirement. We aren’t afraid to take a completely different approach for desktop and mobile when we’re designing a website. Luckily we have a brilliant team of developers that rarely says they can’t do something. Because when it comes down to it, designing a site for desktop and then adjusting it for mobile is no longer an effective approach. We take inspiration from apps when designing the mobile experience. Perhaps the “hamburger” button in the top right corner isn’t enough…what about buttons along the bottom? Wouldn’t recommend that on a desktop site, but mobile? Sure.
Mobile first design will help you figure out if…
– A standard nav is enough or if you need to fortify that approach.
– The popular long scrolling homepage will help guide your audience to the right place on a mobile device.
– You have the most direct route figured to get your audience where you want them to go.
So, whether you’re at the 2-year mark or nearing the 5-year mark, it’s time to start thinking about your website design. Hopefully avoiding these three mistakes will make the project as enjoyable as possible.
Brandt Hoekenga is the Co-CEO and Creative Director for TIV Branding
TIV Branding is a boutique branding firm in Sonoma County, California. We specialize in building brands by using traditional, social and digital channels in unison. If you would like to discuss a project or find out more about how we do what we do, please email us at info@TIVbranding.com.