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12 Website Mistakes that make Branding Strategists cringe

I’ve written, reviewed, and revered hundreds of websites throughout my branding career. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the downright vomit-inducing. 

And I know, just like art, a good website is often subjective. BUT, there are some common branding blunders that make me shudder, and you’d be surprised how often I come across them. Even from some of the “big” brands. 

So I put together a list of my top 12 branding peeves when it comes to a bad website… 

1. Zero Personality

Picture this. You’re trying to decide which exfoliator to buy. You open the top two websites from your search. The first is very factual and clinical. The second is similarly priced, but the information is given in an engaging style with loads of personality. Which one would you buy? 

Your website should be a reflection of your brand’s personality. A generic, soulless site does little to engage visitors, nor incite purchase. Infuse character into your online presence, and let your ‘youness’ shine.

2. Zero Real People

Following on from point 1, your website needs real people. Don’t get me wrong, stock images are great – I use them throughout my website. But they shouldn’t be the hero. Especially if you are building a personal brand. Your customers need to see the real people they’re likely to be dealing with. Having that human element connects and compels your audience to do more than just browse. 

3. All About You, Not About Your Customer

This one is by far the most common mistake I see, almost on the daily. Headlines that start with “I” or “We”, rather than “You” and “Your”. News flash, even though you want to sell *your* thing, you need to make it about all about your customers. 

NO: We provide personalised meal plans to make you feel great.

YES: Feel your best with meal plans made just for you!

The best websites focus on solving customer problems, meeting their needs, and addressing their pain points. If your website is a one-sided conversation solely showcasing your achievements, you might be missing the mark.

4. Zero Foresight to the Customer Journey

Have you ever landed on a webpage and tried to buy something, but the button was buried down the page, the information was unclear and it all felt too hard, so you clicked away? 

If your website lacks a clear path for visitors to follow, leading them from discovery to conversion, you risk frustrating and losing them. Hot tip – get a stranger to review your website and give you honest feedback on how they find it. As the owner, you’re probably far too close to objectively map out your ideal customer journey. 

4. Basic Grammar Errors

Nothing undermines your credibility faster than basic grammar mistakes. It’s acceptable on quick social media posts, but not on your website content. Proofread your content, or better yet, have someone else do it.

5. Sucky Imagery

Visuals matter. Poor-quality or irrelevant visuals can be a major turnoff. Invest in high-quality, relevant imagery that aligns with your brand and resonates with your audience. And if you’re using stock photos, make sure they *chef’s kiss*, like these ones

6. Inconsistent (and Poor!) Use of Branding Elements

Consistency is key to strong branding. Inconsistent use of colours, fonts, and logos can dilute your brand identity and confuse your customers. Hot tip – get your graphic designer to do a ‘once over’ your website every six months to ensure your updates are on point. 

7. Mismatch Between Socials and Website

Ever been loving on a company’s insta, tapped over to their website and felt like you’d entered another dimension? Harmony between your socials and website can make or break a brand. A disconnect confuses visitors. Align your messaging, images, and overall tone for a unified brand presence. Plus, Google will love you (and rank you higher) too. 

8. Cookie Cutter Template

Using a generic template might save time, but it won’t make your website, or brand memorable. Tailor your website to showcase what makes you unique.

9. Where’s Your Value Proposition?

Speaking of unique, what makes you, YOU? And have you woven it throughout your website so customers have a reason to choose you over others? Your value proposition should be front and centre, not buried beneath generic statements we’ve seen a hundred times before.

10. Ignoring Mobile Responsiveness

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know how important it is to optimise your site for mobile – you’re likely reading this on your phone right now. But time and time again, people blindly trust the platform they’ve built their site on to be mobile responsive, without doing manual testing. It’s work the 15 minutes of work people! 

11. Content Stagnation for +12 Months

Ever landed on a website and it feels like you’re reading their DL brochure from 2002? Outdated content makes it bleeding obvious that you’ve neglected one of your most important marketing assets. Regularly update your content to keep it relevant and demonstrate that your brand is active and evolving. Bonus – make sure your content is optimised for web, not print. I’m talking headings, tight copy and visuals wherever possible. 

12. Broken Links

Gah, broken or missing links, how annoying are they? Set a reminder to regularly check and fix broken links to ensure a smooth navigation experience for your visitors.

Have I missed any of your website pet peeves? Have some struck a chord with you? Good news is – most of these issues are easily fixed. Get in touch with me if you want more information. 

After all, your website is often the first impression you make – make it count!


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