5 common website mistakes interior design businesses make that cost them clients

Your interior design business website is essential for attracting, engaging with and converting prospects to leads and leads to clients. But is it really working for you? I frequently come across websites that are making big mistakes and in the end, costing the business leads and clients.

Stick with me and I’ll reveal the 5 most common mistakes I see on these websites. I’ll compare and contrast real interior design business websites that are not cutting it and those that are. Also, I’ll share what can be done to turn the mistake into triumph so your website can start doing its job – attracting prospects, converting prospects to leads and leads to clients!

To protect the innocent, I’ll be disgusting the identity of the websites that are, unfortunately making the mistakes. I’m here to help, not chastise.

I bet you’re awesome at selecting fabrics, window treatment styles, flooring, the right layout, paint colors, what furniture should go where and the perfect chair for that spot.  Well, I suck at all that. I know what looks great (to me) but have no clue how and why the elements work. It’s magic to me.

I also bet you’re not great at identifying why your website is not getting you new clients or even leads. But I do. It’s what I do.

Since I only work with interior design businesses, I come across A LOT of their websites. I can tell pretty quickly what is causing it to repel future clients.  Time and time again I tend to see the same 5 mistakes made. Costly mistakes. Mistakes that are preventing you from having a thriving business.

The 5 Common Website Mistakes

The 5 recurring website mistakes I see are:

  1. Poor SEO, so Google is not sending you free traffic
  2. Not mobile responsive, so it looks like hell on phones
  3. It’s unclear what your business is about, so visitors are forced to guess
  4. Your website design is ho-hum, so visitors lose trust in your ability to deliver a spectacular interior design project
  5. You’re not capturing emails from visitors so have no way to communicate with them

Mistake #1: Poor SEO, so Google is not sending you free traffic

When your website SEO is lacking, Google barely knows you exist. There are numerous factors that determine whether or not Google will send traffic your way but I’d like to focus on the most basic and the easiest for you to change:

  • Content
  • Page title, URL and description for each webpage

Content

Your ideal customer is searching for you. Your content needs to include keywords throughout, especially the first paragraph of a page.

Your prospects are likely using a lot of different keywords. Keywords that are related to the interior design industry, your specific niche (if you have one) and topics related to services.

For example, if your niche is master bath redesign, you better have a master bath redesign and every other variation of those words, in your website copy.

Your prospects will also be looking for answers to their questions related to hiring a designer and/or having the redesign completed such as “How much does it does it cost to have a master bath redesigned?”, “What’s the best way to hire a designer”, “What’s the best flooring for a master bath?”, “What are examples of cool master bath designs”. You get the picture.

Each of these questions can be answered by a blog post you write. Not only is it excellent for SEO, it also allows you to build trust and authority with your prospects.

Page Title, URL & Description

When your SEO is not set up properly, Google may not know you exist. There are many numerous factors that determine whether or not Google will send traffic your way but I’d like to focus on the basics. The title, URL and description for each webpage.

Note: I’d also like to assume the content on your pages are relevant, high-quality, unique and updated frequently.

When a webpage is built, the designer has the ability to define several attributes that Google refers to, including the page title, URL and page description. If your site is built on a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, you have the ability to use software that makes the job super easy. I use Yoast SEO, but there are others.

Page title, URL and description are important because Google uses them to determine relevancy to the search, based on the keywords, and Google uses them to build your listing in the SERP. 

Page title

To attract customers the title should contain the keyword you’re trying to get results for, it should be descriptive and must include your location (city).

The location is necessary for searchers that don’t include the location name in their keywords. For example, some searchers will use the keywords “master bath redesign” and others may use “master bath redesign Chicago”.

Limit your title to 60 chars because Google will likely truncate anything beyond 60.

URL

Same as the title, the URL (also referred to as the “slug”) should be descriptive and include your keyword. It helps Google establish relevancy, especially when the title, URL and description all contain the same keyword.

Page description

To encourage the searcher to click on your link, the description should pique the interest and contain a call to action.  Of course, you also want to be sure and include your keywords in the description – first sentence if possible.

Limit your description to 160 chars because Google will likely truncate anything beyond 160.

Sidenote: If a page does not have a title and/or description set on a webpage, Google grabs text it thinks will work. Not good. 

Examples

To find a good and not so good example, I performed a Google search using the keywords “master bath redesign Chicago”. Let’s take a look.

Below is an example of a website with good SEO.

example of a website with good seo

This is a good example because…

  • The title contains 3 of the keywords bath, design, Chicago. And the location is included in the title – Chicago, in case the searcher didn’t include Chicago in their search.
  • The URL also contains a keyword bathroom
  • The description contains several keywords – Google shows these words in bold – and the text is enticing. If you were searching for someone to redesign your bathroom, wouldn’t you be interested in seeing a completed remodel of a master bathroom? From a designer in Chicago? Of course!

And here’s an example of a website with not so good SEO.

example of a website with poor seo

This is a not so good example because…

  1. The title still contains the default “Home” which is a waste of space and tells the visitor nothing.
  2. The URL is also ok because it obviously goes to the home page.
  3. 3.   The description is terrible. It’s apparent the description was not defined. Instead, Google just grabbed some text which is unclear, random and does not compel me to click the link to learn more. Especially if there are other, better options to click on.

One-Page Websites

One page websites suck for SEO. Since it’s just one page, you only have one opportunity to define an effective title, URL and description. And, it is unlikely you have enough content to get Google’s or your prospect’s attention.

Does that mean one-page websites are inherently bad? Not necessarily. It can be great for link building since you only focus on one webpage to build links with. I would argue that link building is one piece of the SEO puzzle and your SEO marketing strategy should not be based on one element. You can dig into SEO here if you’d like.

Mistake #2: Not mobile responsive, so it looks like hell on phones

According to StatCounter Global Stats, The most common desktop size is 1366×768 and the most common phone screen size is 360×640.  A good web designer will design and build your website to look professional on an array of screen sizes, but ensuring it looks great on the 2 most commons sizes is a must.

According to Statistica, nearly 50% of all internet searches are generated by mobile devices (this excludes tablets). This is a number you cannot ignore.

Examples

Our first example is a website that looks great on mobile. 

Example of a website that looks great on mobile

The logo, text, and image are all clear and appropriately sized. The menu is also evident at the top with lots of room around it for fat fingers.

And here’s the site on desktop:

example of a website with good mobile design

The next website example on a mobile phone is not so great.

Example of a website that looks like hell on mobile

Much of the content is pushed into the right margin causing the user to have to swipe back and forth to read anything. That is if they have their super-duper bifocals on. The text is so tiny. Even the menu spans outside the view of the screen.

This site on mobile is practically unusable. If the user has other business websites to choose from, they will certainly abandon this one.

In fact, this is an example of why mobile responsive design came to be. A standard website (designed for desktop) simply is not usable on a mobile device. 

Here’s the website on desktop:

example of a website with bad mobile design

Note: From Google’s perspective, a high rate of abandons is a red flag and a reason why Google will not send you traffic so the issue with poor mobile design is not just a matter of aesthetics.

Mistake #3: It’s unclear what your business is about

What’s your business about? 

You might be tempted to say “interior design”, but aren’t you about more than that?

What’s your mission? What’s your passion? What do you hope and dream will be the result of your work? Why should someone choose you over another firm?

In case you didn’t know, this is your UVP. 

Your UVP is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition. 

Our example of a good, clear business value proposition is below. It clearly states their goal is to create a peaceful environment for its clients utilizing existing furnishings and purchasing more if needed.

example of a website with good uvp

My only critique would be the UVP is a tad long, the text is too small and should be moved up – perhaps even an overlay over the photo.  Still, a good UVP.

Below is an example of a poor UVP. 

example of a website with poor uvp

I mean, really? You are all about financing? In fact, by choosing this message on your homepage you are essentially advertising that you’re so expensive they’ll need financing to pay for it, or your target customers couldn’t possibly pay for your services without financing. Either way, it’s offensive and gives a bad first impression.

The visitor wants to know that you are an interior design firm that specializes in xxx.

Mistake #4: Your website design is ho-hum

You are a designer and your customers hold you to a higher standard in terms of web design. Think about it. Would you go a beautician that had an outdated hairstyle, poorly colored with gray roots hanging out?

A lot has been studied about how users consume and use websites. In fact, much of website design is psychology.  Here are some best practices that resulted from those studies.

Menu

Users expect a clear, predictable menu structure that allows them to easily navigate where they want to go. The menu should be placed at the top and optionally in the footer. Standard pages and page names they expect to see are:

  • Home
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact

And for designers: 

  • Gallery

On mobile, users are accustomed to the text “MENU” or hamburger style menu (3 lines that when pressed exposes the full menu choices).

Avoid being cutesy or clever by naming your pages something different like “Reach out” instead of Contact. Just the additional few seconds of thought required to translate “reach out” to “contact” is enough to overload the user and abandon for the competition.

Organized

Users don’t expect, nor do they want to see, all of your information dumped on your home page. Don’t do it!

Different users have different goals.  A well-designed site takes into account all of the goals your users could have and provides ways for them to easily and intuitively reach their goal by categorizing information and building a meaningful menu structure.

Colors

I don’t think I need to explain how important color is to an interior designer. Same rules apply to website design. Colors evoke emotion and instill assumptions about you.  Choose them wisely.

White space

Users prefer white space. It allows them to easily consume the content without feeling overwhelmed or giving them cognitive overload. Once that happens, they’re done with your website.

Scan

Users scan your information, they don’t generally read it. Heavy areas of text should be avoided or broken into bullets, extra line spaces and/or interesting elements such as lines or icons.

Images

Users love images because they are interesting, (hopefully) engaging and inspirational. In the world of interior design, inspiring a prospect is a huge leap forward in getting their attention and starting to build.

Contact information

The business must be easy to contact. Users don’t want to hunt around for the information. It should be on a Contact page, footer and optionally the top bar on the home page.

Here’s an example of a good homepage design. It’s simple yet effective.

example of a website with good design

The example below is a flashback to the ’90s. Oh wait, it does say Copyright 2009 at the bottom! Yikes! Your ideal customer expects attention to detail when it comes to designing their dream home. First impression here tells them you don’t pay attention and apparently don’t care about design. 

The biggest issues with this website are outdated design, cognitive overload with all of the text and it appears too much information was just dumped on the homepage.

We’ve already established you’re a designer.  Please, please, please don’t sacrifice a website function for the sake of demonstrating your edgy design skills. 

All website users expect to see the menu at the top, standard pages (home, about, contact, service and for designers: testimonials & gallery) a home page clearly articulating your UVP and more. 

The example below makes me say “wh-wh-wh-what?”

example of a website with poor user experience design

Mistake #5: You’re not capturing emails

Did you know your email list is your businesses #1 asset? An opt-in form is an essential element to building that list.

An opt-in form is simply an online form that captures your prospect’s name and email in exchange for a benefit you will provide. Benefits could be a freebie (lead magnet) you promise to deliver to them or a promise to send them your free newsletter every week.

A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address or other contact information. – OptinMonster

The key is to offer something so compelling the user is willing to give up their email because let’s face it, we all have enough junk mail, right?

Once the email and name are captured they’re passed to an email system where you can manage the contact, create email campaigns and set up email automation.  Popular email systems are Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and Drip. There are tons of other options as well.

Below is an example of a good opt-in form. It’s attractively designed, gets your attention and provides valuable training in exchange for the prospect’s email. to be more effective I’d like to see more detail surrounding the step-by-step training. Is it a document, a video? It’s a bit vague.

example of a good optin form

Below is an example of an ineffective opt-in form. I won’t call it bad because at least they have one – it’s just ineffective. There’s no benefit in exchange for the user’s email so unlikely you will get their email. 

example of a bad optin form

 

In Conclusion

Don’t think that only large firms need to be concerned with having a well designed, modern, SEO-optimized, mobile-responsive website that captures prospect’s emails. Even solopreneurs should have a website. If you don’t know why you need a website, read this article: Your interior design business may not need a website after all.

Don’t just read this article, file it away and take zero action. These mistakes could be costing you business or resulting in lost opportunities to grow your business.

Next Steps

Now that you know about the 5 most common website mistakes interior design businesses make, it’s time to examine your own website.

Set aside a mere 30 minutes and follow these simple steps:

  1. Review your website, narrowly focusing on the 5 mistakes discussed, and make a list of areas that need fixing.  It’s not necessary to define what the changes are at this point. For example, if your home page doesn’t convey a clear UVP, write on your list that the UVP is unclear but don’t worry about defining the UVP right now.
  2. Meet with your web designer/developer and share with them the changes you would like made to the website. They should be able to guide you through update options and provide an estimate.
  3. If the current website platform doesn’t support some of the changes, your web designer/developer may recommend a complete redesign of the site including the platform. Don’t panic. It’s normal. Most businesses update their websites every 3-5 years just to keep it looking fresh and modern.

Right now – open your calendar and schedule 30 minutes to review your website. Your business depends on it.


If you don’t have a web designer/developer we’d love to help.  Here is a button that goes to our Contact page where you can reach out to us in a way that works for you.



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