Rookie Website Mistakes You're Probably Making

Launching a blog or a website is an exciting process. You’re finally getting your side hustle off the ground, and you have a website to prove it.

Excellent!

While it’s 100% possible and more intuitive than ever before to design your own website, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put some time and energy into getting it right.

After all, there are currently over 1.8 billion websites on the internet—all of which are competing for attention from readers. If you want to stand out in a crowded sea, especially among your competitors, it’s critical to avoid these 7 common rookie website mistakes.

1. You don’t choose a responsive website design

I am flabbergasted anytime I stumble across a website that doesn’t have a responsive design in this day and age. FLAB-ER-GAST-ED.

As a quick review, having a responsive website design means that the format of your website automatically adjusts so it’s easy to view on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop, and whatever future alien technology Apple will throw at us in the years to come).

responsive web design

In other words, if someone clicks through to your website from a mobile phone, they will see the mobile version of your site instead of having to do the “pinch-and-zoom” to try and navigate the desktop version of your site on a 5-inch screen.

I’m in shock when I come across a website that doesn’t have a responsive design because most website builders and WordPress templates only offer responsive designs.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to sign up with a reputable web hosting platform that offers a responsive website builder or one-click WordPress installation. If you opt for a WordPress site, you can click on the live preview of the template to see how it looks on mobile and desktop.

If your website is a modern-age dinosaur, the time is now to update your WordPress theme or transfer to a new hosting platform.

2. Your main pages are too content heavy

Before you write your website content, ask yourself how long you spend reading a website’s content before clicking through to the next page.

If you’re like the majority of other website readers, you probably spend an average of 5.9 seconds reading before moving on.

The good news is people can consume a lot of information about you and your website in 5.9 seconds if you strategically plan your copy and design.

Here’s some excellent advice to get your reader’s attention and encourage them to stay longer:

  • Use visuals on your website to tell stories
  • Break your content up with headings, subheadings, and bullet points
  • Surround your CTAs (calls-to-action) in a clickable button
  • Only write what’s absolutely necessary to tell your story
  • Break your content up into different pages (home, services, about, contact, etc.)
  • Add a blog to your website and post all your epistles here

3. You don’t address how your page will appear in a browser

I currently have 12 tabs open in my browser. My coworker has a staggering 30-40 tabs open at a time. I don’t know how he navigates from page to page.

I do know, however, that it’s much easier for internet users to find your website in a sea of open tabs when you have done two important things:

  1. Added a favicon 
  2. Included appropriate page titles

What is a favicon?

Take a quick glance at the open tabs on your web browser. The little logo on the left side of the tab is the website’s favicon. On this page, you’ll see the world’s cutest blue alligator, the HostGator gator Snappy. That’s our favicon. If you navigate away from this page, you can easily return back to it by clicking on the gator.

hostgator website favicon

What is a page title?

The page title is the string of words that appear after the favicon. The page title will change for every different page on your website. When you are naming your pages, consider using the shortest and most descriptive titles possible to help website visitors re-locate your page with ease.

4. You bog down your website with too many bells and whistles

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting your website to do everything—videos, carousels, animations, sliders—the works!

While these features are fun, the most important page feature is how quickly your page loads.

Google recently found that 70% of websites they reviewed for a study took 7+ seconds to load. However, most users will stick around for less than 3 seconds before they bounce out of the website.

As you design your website, continue to test how long it takes to load. If you are trying to get your website to perform too many functions, it could slow down your page speed. 

If you do need extra functionality and don’t want to compromise page speed, consider upgrading your basic web hosting plan to a VPS hosting plan.

5. You decide to get creative with your navigation menus

The more you can do to help website visitors navigate your website with ease, the longer they will stay on your website.

When you’re creating your navigation menus, stick to tradition. In other words, name your navigation links things like “home,” “services,” “about,” “portfolio,” “contact,” etc. It’s fun to get creative with page copy, but keep your navigation menu link names boring.

Additionally, consider where you place your navigation menu. It makes most sense to align your main menu at the top of the page or off to the left of your page. If you have a lot of pages on your website, create submenus underneath your main menu links. 

hostgator top navigation menu
HostGator’s website features a main navigation menu at the top with sub-menus that appear when you hover over them.

For example, let’s say you’re an HVAC company that offers plumbing as a service. “Plumbing” could appear as one of your main navigation links. Then, you could nest related services like “faucets,” “tubs,” “sinks,” “drains,” etc., under the “plumbing” tab.

6. You don’t include a clear call-to-action (CTA)

If you’re not a copywriter, that’s okay. You can still write your own website copy, but here’s the best tip I can give you: Don’t forget to include clear calls-to-action on your website.

Here’s why:

  • Over 90% of visitors who read your headline will also read your CTA, according to Unbounce.
  • CreateDebate learned that making CTAs look like buttons created a 45% boost in clicks, according to Copyblogger.
  • Personalized CTAs bring 200% more conversions than clickable images.

The reason CTAs are so important is because they guide your website through the purchasing funnel. In other words, they tell your reader what you want them to do next. And then they do it.

When writing website copy, I always ask myself, “now what?” This question helps me remember to list the features and benefits and also to write a CTA that tells readers what to do next.

7. Not using a template for design

Unless you are a website designer with extensive experience, it’s probably best to use a template to build your website.

Most website builders and WordPress offer a robust library of pre-coded templates that look good and are proven to convert.

add wordpress theme
A few of the WordPress themes you can choose

The best part is you can still customize templates to your heart’s content. You can write your own copy, change the template’s layout, and even add your own CSS.

Think of a website template like a recipe for a cake. You could build and decorate your own cake from scratch, or you could work with a recipe and even the help of a professional. If you’ve ever seen Nailed It!, you already know how amateur cake decorators fare on their own. Don’t do the same to your website.

Get your website up and running with HostGator today!

If you’re reading this article, it probably means you’re getting ready to start your own website. That’s great! 

As you get ready to build your site, remember, HostGator offers an intuitive website builder and one-click WordPress installation. 

We also have a team of dedicated customer support agents and a robust knowledge base to help you through the process of setting up your website. Check out our hosting plans today.

Joe is the Creative Manager for HostGator.