Blog Archives

Common Website Mistakes To Avoid

Your website sucks

We all see a lot of websites these days. But how often do you find yourself on a new site wondering what the company actually does or wants you to do next?

It’s an all too common problem. In our haste to build websites, we often forget to look at the initial designs through our site visitors’ eyes and routinely fail to make it easy for them to do what we want.

This recent post from Socialmouths highlights five common website mistakes that dramatically impact the number of conversions.

Top of the list is the failure to state a clear value proposition, by demonstrating what makes your organisation special and different. In a nutshell:

you have to tell people quickly and simply what it is that you do, and why you’re great at it

And there are other design crimes like too many CTAs (calls to action), no single dominant CTA, and insufficient reasons to believe that also regularly impair the effectiveness of many websites.

Next time you visit a new website, think about the five common mistakes that Socialmouths has identified and ask yourself if they apply and how they could be addressed. Then look back at your own site, wearing your desired visitor’s hat, and ask yourself the same questions.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll bet you’ll instantly spot several things you can improve.

Back To School – Time to Update Your Social Media Cover Photos

With the kids heading back to school in the UK today or very soon, now is the perfect time to polish up your social media profile pictures and cover photos. But knowing what size your images need to be has always been a time-consuming exercise.

But not anymore, thanks to this nifty guide from the team at Raidious.

Now, if only you could find a decent photo to start with…

Colour and Brands Through The Ages


(see what I did there?!)

In the UK we call it ‘colour’ while our American cousins prefer ‘color’. However you write it, having an appreciation of how seeing different colours affects our mood is a great skill for every marketer.

With a hat tip to my former Microsoft colleague Steve Clayton, here’s a delightful little diagram from Pantone, the global colour experts, showing how colour fashions have shifted over time and how some brands have become synonymous with certain schemes. Enjoy!



The Little Changes That Make All The Difference

I’m indebted to for just publishing an outstanding collection of ten user interface design case studies that illustrate how the smallest changes can sometimes result in the biggest improvements.

In one A/B test, simply changing one word on a call to action on a PPC landing page resulted in a 90% increase in conversion. Here’s that change:

90 percent increase in conversions

The magic of “my” cropped up in another example, where the following change caused a catastrophic 24.9% drop in conversions:

24.91 percent drop in conversions

Another test showed how the vagaries of colour choice can have dramatic implications on clicks. On an e-commerce site, changing the ‘add to cart’ button from a blue rectangle to a green rounded rectangle fuelled a 35.8% increase in clicks:

35.81 percent increase in conversion

But the biggest conversion jump of all came from a subtle rewording of the call to action for Fitness World, a chain of gyms in Scandinavia. By softening the tone of the call to action from definitive, closing language to wording that promises an opportunity to do further research, the company managed to drive a stunning 213% increase in conversions!

213 percent increase in conversions

As the saying goes, your mileage may vary so the only way to see what improvements you could secure on your site is to get testing. And don’t just assume the examples given will work for you. Your results will be a function of other elements on your site and the many other distractions presented on the customer journey.

“All well and good,” you’re probably now thinking, “but how can I try this out for my site?” To which, I’d reply, “Go find a great A/B testing partner, or take a service like or for a spin to see how your designs fare in a live test environment.”

Go do it! You’ve nothing to lose and lots to gain.

You can read the full case studies on right here. Enjoy!

Don’t make Life Difficult for your Customers

It’s all too common. We build online content and expect visitors to register before they can gain access. Aside from the fact that asking for personal data before giving away some free content typically halves the amount of data you collect, some organisations insist on making things even more difficult than they need to be.

It’s easy to criticise government bodies like HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the UK’s equivalent of the USA’s IRS) but sometimes they make life so remarkably complicated that they deserve to be pilloried. And they’re not alone. Countless other commercial sites make similar mistakes, but hopefully your site is better.

Take, for example, this HMRC form which invites users to set up some “Shared Secrets to allow them to gain access to their account should they forget their password. This form exists to collect some easy to remember answers that are less forgettable than a site password. Yet instead of making this easy, HMRC insists that every answer must be between 6 and 15 characters long and not contain any spaces, punctuation, numbers or special characters.


Why? Because, I presume, HMRC has an antiquated IT system that is only capable of handling responses in this very precise format. Yet this constraint possibly defeats the very purpose of the exercise: to create a trust mechanism where the end-user cannot possibly get locked out of their account because their answers are unforgettable.

Like you, I don’t know of many schools, names or even places that don’t include any spaces, don’t exceed 15 characters, and lack any punctuation. Yet HMRC’s lack of foresight inflicts these rigid constraints on every user turning what should be a simple exercise into a complex memory test.

The lesson: don’t make life difficult for your customers and never make them work hard to do something that ultimately serves you rather than them. They are your customers; treat them with the care, respect and love they deserve.

The web changes everything, even how you design your CV

I’ve always been a great believer in the power of good design.

And in a digital world filled with endless infographics and stylised images, the humble CV has been long due a thorough reinvention.

Before and After image of CVThat’s why I’m impressed by a new service out of the US of A that promises to help your CV standout in a sea of sameness.

If your CV has a touch of the 1990’s about it, check out Loft Resumes, the brainchild of South Carolina designers Dodd Caldwell and Emory Cash. Their new services offers a wide selection of starting templates, allowing you to turn your drab black and white resume into a design masterpiece you can be proud of. No design skills required, just $99 to have a design professional transform your words into something glorious!

Oh, and while you’re at it, take a look at that product brochure and white paper you’ve been hawking since the turn of the millennium. They could probably use a touch of design magic too. Few things age faster than an analogue creation in a digital world.

[hat tip to Co.DESIGN for pointing me to this great service]

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