Everyone has a website these days, and everyone needs a website these days. Websites are so important, that it can lead you to lose clients sometimes just as quickly as gain clients. This could happen oftentimes because of how your website feels.
I say "how your design feels" because a website isn't just something you look at, it is an experience. The user has to navigate it, to explore it and interact... not simply look at it. And if it's a poor experience, it will no longer matter what your product or service is, they will just be left with a bad impression of you and your brand.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid.
1. Don't clutter up your home page.
There are no hard and fast rules about what needs to be on your home page (because the internet is anarchy and opinion is king), but there are some basics truths about the human condition that can be harnessed to better communicate with the world. One of those truths is; No one likes a junky/messy room, and that's what it will feel like if you open up your website and are met with 10 different things to look at. This decreases the value of anything your are trying to say, because it immediately gets drowned out by something else.
I believe in a Quality Over Quantity approach. When you first open up your website, the first three things that should be recognized by the viewer are;
What you do/tagline.
Where the website navigation is.
These points are in order, and in design, what order you see them in is called their "hierarchy". You want the first thing your eyes to notice is your name or logo. The second thing your eye should notice is 1-2 sentences (or a tagline) describing what you do/who you are. This sets the viewer up with a mood or vibe to carry them through the rest of the experience. A good thing that accompanies this is a large picture or illustration. After that, the website navigation is the most important thing to notice.
As long as those three things are seen/experienced first, you've laid a good foundation for success and usability of your website. Ways to achieve this are with the size of the elements (BIG logo, Medium tagline, small navigation), as well as placement. Luckily with web design, we have a tool that most other design doesn't have - motion. In most website-building-apps, (like Wix or Squarespace) you have the option to add an animation or motion to your elements. You can have your website literally appear first when someone opens your webpage, then a second later the tagline fades in, and after that the navigation appears. Motion takes any design to the next level.
2. You're not using a defined color palette.
This is a mistake that has subconscious consequences. More than 6 colors can leave the user feeling a sense of dizziness, because there is no leader, no unification. Having set colors (up to 6) to use in a website automatically makes you feel the completeness of the brand.
Here are a few color palettes for websites I really appreciate (source). Each of these can be paired with black and white:
# acb7ae - mossy blue
# 82716e - taupey purple
# e4decd - light sand
# c2b490 - golden wool
# ff3a22 - punch drunk orange
# c7af6b - light gold
# a4893d - dark gold
# 628078 - blue green
# fbe3e8 - softest pink
# 5cbdb9 - heavenly teal
# ebf6f5 - light heavenly teal
# f43a09 - orange peel
# ffb766 - orange pulp
# c2edda - pale spring green
# 68d388 - spring green
# 6b7a8f - moody streets
# f7882f - directional orange
# f7c331 - sunset yellow
# dcc7aa - khaki
If your website is picture heavy, I suggest sticking with black and white. You can also use grey tones, and one accent color. That way the pictures speak the loudest. I did this with the Edge of the West website, since it is a real-estate company, people who look at the properties are influenced by pictures of properties first, and information second.
3. Not ENOUGH content.
Being restrained in your color palette and restrained in how much information you pack in a page doesn't mean you don't want ANY information. People still want to know what they came to the website for. They want to read about you, your products and services, etc. But they just need the elbow room to do it.
When describing a product or service (or an About Me page), please, elaborate. I don't mean write a novel, but don't be afraid to share what you know, what you've learned, who you are. Or, what the product is, what the product looks like, etc. This is where trust is built between you and your customer. If you are hesitant about your writing skill, have a friend proofread it for you.
In my career thus far, I've encountered many people who feel uncomfortable writing about themselves. (Heck, I'm one of them.) But there are some legitimate and important reasons for doing this that go beyond "getting to know you" trust-building:
Google needs it.
When Google indexes a website (or categorizes your website), it can only read written information. Google is effectively blind to images, and can only categorize based on the keywords you use in your writing. This is why describing how a product looks is important to getting your product found on google. IE: if you are selling a shirt, but in your description you don't actually write the word "shirt", google will not put you in the category of shirts, or even clothing.
Blind people use the internet too.
Google isn't the only time when descriptions are highly important. Let's not forget the portion of people who use the internet without seeing it; the visually impaired. They have services that read out websites to them, but if you have nothing written, they will have nothing to hear.
These are the top web design mistakes. Whether you are making your website yourself or having someone else do it, it's important to see it through the eyes of the first-time consumer. As long as you keep the basics in mind, you will effectively be able to communicate who you are and what you have to offer to the world.