Why isn’t my site working for me? This is one of the questions I got asked in my 2017 website questions survey, and while she was directing the question to her specific site my answer is to all of you. By identifying common doula website design mistakes, hopefully you can identify a few good tweaks for each of your websites.
As you might imagine, I get this question A LOT. It’s not always an easy one to answer…
The truth is ... design choices that You Love may not work for your site visitors.
Of course, there are always visitors who will be turned off by any given website’s aesthetic - too modern, too pastel, too crunch, too wordy… There are, however, some core design choices that are a consistent No No.
Marketers have invested a whole lotta money and time researching what we as human beings respond to in websites. Turns out we do best with plenty of white space, easy to read fonts, and text that is in smaller content chunks, a long with a host of other findings.
Here are some common doula website design mistakes to watch out for >
Complicated or Busy Backgrounds
Think of your background as supporting your content, not competing with it. Strong patterned backgrounds or even a strong solid color framing the text - or behind the text itself - can make it very difficult for the eye to focus on the content itself. Just because you love it doesn't mean it should be on your website.
Remember that your website isn’t for you. You’re looking to attract new clients, not decorate your living room.
Think of your website is a public space - make sure it feels welcoming, open, and true to the spirit of your doula practice.
Your Font Choices
While too small or too large text is sometimes an issue for readability and flow, the biggest font issue I see is the actual fonts chosen. Scripts are common culprits, in particular those that are hard to read for larger chunks of text, or feel old fashioned. There continue to be sites out there using comic sans and papyrus fonts - type styles so outdated and overused that there are actual whole design websites devoted to the mockery of them! Sans serif fonts are the safest choice for main body text legibility - these are fonts such as this one on the screen in which the ends of the letters are straight, without any accent lines at the tips. Looking for good free fonts? Here’s my helpful post on how to use the Google Web Fonts tool.
It is always worth investing in good quality photos for your site. Grainy, dark, or awkward photos with messy backgrounds simply don’t put your care in the best light. Unfortunately the message that comes through to clients is that you are not invested in your business. Admittedly it can be tough finding quality stock photography for doulas, but if you think outside the box you can find excellent options. Here's an example of what NOT to use:
Break Up Your Text!
It’s simply overwhelming looking at a page with endless long paragraphs of text. Our eyes want to see content divided into sections with variations in size, alignment and even color. I saw this with the proviso, of course, that you not go overboard with these techniques resulting content that feels busy.
All Things that Shine, Move, and Make Noise
No twinkling text, no lullaby music that automatically plays, and PLEASE no moving gifs of unicorns and angels. These detract from your message, increase site load times, and can instantly make a perfectly good website feel dated.
I often come across sites that simply don’t have enough information for clients to feel inspired to take action. Usually they include a brief introduction to a particular service such as birth doula care, but miss out on important elements such as a button to schedule a free consult, fees, how to take the next step, and what it feels like to be in your care. >> Check out my website birth plan ebook for great guidance on your website content.
Missing the Next Step
When someone arrives on your site, is it clear to them what the next step is to learn more or hire you? Have you provided easy click-through buttons to your contact form, or to schedule a free consultation?
What’s next? Well, I encourage you to take a closer look at your website and explore ways that you might make simple changes that can make a big difference. I recently worked on a client site that we had first built back in 2012. In just 4 hours we completely revamped the look - upgrading the design with a custom script font and new body font, changing the colour scheme, and replacing her logo and icons. Little changes can make a BIG difference. >> Learn more about my website refresh packages here.