3 Biggest Web Design Mistakes Start-ups Make

3 Biggest Web Design Mistakes Start-ups Make


The world of start-ups is cutthroat. There’s no surprise there — the statistic that 9 out of 10 start-ups fail is cited regularly and has fallen into the domain of common knowledge. The reason so many fail is that only so many companies can succeed in a given market, and there are just too many start-ups out there for a higher success rate to be pervasive.

In fact, a new start-up launches every three seconds somewhere around the globe, and in the US alone, venture capital sinks $1,532 into start-ups every second. Of course, the stakes are high for start-ups to beat out the competition and acquire a user base as quickly as possible. How can they not be under such conditions?

In the 21st century, it is now a tenement of smart business that you need a website to succeed. Websites can convert consumers into paying customers, be an integral part of marketing campaigns, and are also simply a great resource for the customers you already have. Considering that more than one-third of consumers discover businesses online, start-ups need a website to be competitive. Yet creating a website isn’t easy. There are all kinds of mistakes that start-ups make when developing their website.

Related: How to Tackle a Website Design

Here are the 3 biggest web design mistakes that start-ups make you need to avoid:

1Ignore research

One of the most glaring mistakes that start-ups make is that in their rush to create an MVP and launch, they push a website through development without researching the market. One of the most important parts of the design process is market research. The first thing a start-up needs to grasp is who their target audience is: Who will buy their product or service, and what message do they best respond to? It’s also important that startups understand who their competitors are and what do their websites look like.

This will give a start-up better insight into consumer expectations and ensure that their website builds trust and encourages conversions by adhering to the design standards within the industry while differentiating their site from the competition.

The research doesn’t stop there, however. Once the website is live, startups need to track visitor behaviour: What do they click on, what do they ignore? Is the call to action actually converting? Many start-ups hire a web designer, build a website, and then let the designer go, but a great website needs revision after it goes live.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that start-ups should keep a web designer on staff at all times, but they often ignore maintenance and improvements that could quickly increase their cash flow and help them expand in the crucial early stages of the business. Instead, start-ups should monitor consumer behaviour across their site and bring in a web designer as necessary when problems in need of fixing arise.

2Underpay the designer


It’s a fine balancing act of charging a professional the right amount for a project. It can be trickier for design fields, in which their isn’t always a guaranteed timeline. A common mistake that start-ups make is that they underpay a designer because they don’t have the funds to pay what a great designer should earn for the work.

This leads to two scenarios: One, the start-up hires an under-skilled, cheap designer to do the job, or they hire a good web designer, who either is disgruntled by the low pay and doesn’t do their best work, or perhaps only works on the project for a short while. The former leads to a website with poor design, the latter a slapdash effort that may have the necessary core features, but remains lacking in aesthetic and elegance.

Related: Breeze Website Designers’ Bongani Gosa On Learning From Mistakes

Another mistake start-ups make to combat the need to pay a full-time designer is to use a DIY website builder. While these builders can work for a personal blog, a business, even at the start-up phase, needs something more professional. Not only do start-ups need their website to stand out from the competition (which is much harder when using a web page template), but the most successful websites are those customised to target a specific audience, from optimising navigation and menu layouts to picking fonts and colours, and that takes a professional eye.

Design isn’t secondary to development; if a start-up wants great web design, they must invest in a great designer. It’s as simple as that.

3Add too many features

The key to success for any start-up is to start with the basics: Begin your business with one product/service and perfect it before you expand your offerings. A similar logic applies to web design. Many start-ups believe that flashy and crowded design attracts customers, that all consumers want a blog, live video, HD pictures, parallax scrolling, and all sorts of micro-interactions. The reality is that a combination of some of these things can be highly successful, but including all of them is unnecessary, even excessive.

Remember that consumers aren’t patient. 40% Of consumers will abandon a web page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and the more bells and whistles you add to a site, the slower it is to load. While some cool features can be a nice addition to boost conversions, each addition costs time and money, and many start-ups neglect to consider the necessity of adding a particular animation or graphic, instead focusing just on the aesthetic of it.

Related: 9 Overlooked Ways To Make Visitors Love Your Website

There’s a fine line between simplicity and boredom, sure, but many start-ups forget that white space and a focused design are key elements of building trust and encouraging conversions.

There are plenty of other mistakes start-ups make when it comes to web design, from loading the site with keywords to ineffective calls to action and poor navigation. Web design is complicated, and start-ups often neglect all of the elements that need to come together for a successful design. As with any element of a company, great web design is labor-intensive and expensive. The biggest mistake start-ups make is forgetting that.

What other mistakes have you noticed in startup web design?

Josh Althuser
Josh Althuser is a tech entrepreneur and open source advocate specializing in providing mentorship for startups. You may connect with him on Twitter.