What is the point of your site?
Think of your target market first. Who are you designing the website for? Your target audience, which will be the bulk of your visitors, should be the focus of your website. It is impossible to target every type of audience.
Decide upfront if you are targeting older people or younger people, individuals or businesses, high-end income groups or low-end income groups, to name a few examples. Focus on your target audience and please them with a website design aimed specifically at them with content specific to their needs. The rest will follow.
I want to be in charge
As a business owner you are an entrepreneur, and most entrepreneurs like to do things themselves. Free website design portals seem attractive because of the low cost involved. You get what you pay for and if it was free it means that you really get nothing out of it. You will end up with a messy website that stole time, effort and focus from your business.
Even if you are talented and end up with a good looking website, consider the actual mechanics of a website such as search engine optimisation. SEO is more than a bunch of keywords. Google will never index your website properly without good SEO.
A website is not going to make you rich. Grow up.
Avoid flashy websites that are so cramped with fluff that website visitors become overwhelmed. Keep the design simple and elegant. Ensure that your navigation system (buttons / tabs) are clear for visitors to see.
Flashy websites do not look good on mobile devices. What may look great on your laptop screen could look terrible on a tablet or smartphone. More importantly, Google dislikes cluttered websites.
Website visitors know what they want from a website. And if they cannot figure out where to find it on your website, they will leave.
Have a plan
Guide your audience through the website. Once they click on your website link and the home page has loaded, what is it that you want the visitor to see first? This is where knowing your target market becomes crucial.
What do you want?
Once you have the attention of your audience, what is it that you want them to do? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to place an order? Do you want them to request a quote? Do you want them to download something from your website? Do you want them to sign-up for your newsletter? Tell website visitors what to do and how doing it will benefit them.
Don’t be lazy
You cannot be lazy when it comes to your website. Write your own content, don’t copy it from other websites. Google checks the text on your website when indexing it and trust me, Google is clever enough to know if you copied someone else’s content. Your website will be penalised which will result in a poor listing.
If you supply your web designer with poor content – don’t expect great results.