Are you struggling to get online sales for your craft or design business. Your website is so important for presenting yourself professionally, for getting interest which leads to sales and commissions. Especially now post-Covid when many events are still cancelled, and shops, and galleries closed.

Do you know what’s stopping your website visitors to buy from you online? Anne-Marie Shepherd, The Design Trust Business Club & Social Media Manager regularly works with our online course clients to review their websites. She often sees the same website mistakes being made. In this detailed post she shares the 9 most common website mistakes creatives make and how you can fix them.

1. Is your homepage super clear about what you do? 

I regularly land on a home page and get confused about what’s on offer. What’s this creative selling? Who is this aimed at?

Your home page is the front door to your online shop, it’s that crucial ‘first impression’ and it really needs to grab your visitor’s attention immediately.

Too often there are too many images or messages, a broad variety and style of work, or confusing or too many categories to click on. Creative businesses often struggle to find a balance between too much text or too little, too many images or too few.

Did you know that the average website visitor leaves a website within 3 seconds?

Your website visitors are asking themselves (often unconsciously!) the question: “Is this for me?” and if they don’t feel it is, then they will quickly move on.  Focus your brand message and what you want to be known for with a few well-selected words and high-quality images, so as not to confuse your visitor or lose their attention.

Take action

Make it super clear on your home page what you do and for whom – with strong, generous and professional images and concise text.

Dare to position yourself more clearly with what you do, what’s important to you and your values. Really attracting YOUR ideal clients, and putting the wrong people off is a good thing! If you are too many different things to too many different people then you will confuse your potential audience.

Select one big hero image, or a scroll of images. Add a short, impactful tag line to encourage your website visitors to feel truly welcome, and to explore your website more.

2. Is your website really easy to navigate?

When we ask our workshop clients the question “What makes a good website?”“Easy to find your way around” is one of the most common answers.

We all know how annoying it is when you can’t find your way around. When there is no clear menu or the categories are confusing. Should I click on ‘gallery’ or ‘shop’?

It’s vital that your website has clear headers or an easy-to-navigate menu that’s accessible on any page. With a one-click way back to the home page from any page (this usually involves clicking on your logo or name header). And a call-to-action on every page to buy, get more details or to sign up for your newsletter.

Remember, the fewer times that a user has to click, the easier it is.

How easy is it to find specific products on your website? How many clicks does it take from your homepage to buy from you?

Take action

You might want to do a 30min experiment to see how easy your website is to navigate. You can either do this yourself and pretend that you are first-time visitor to your own website, or ask 2-3 people (ideally potential clients rather than your mum!) to use your site and observe how they get on (you might get some interesting insights that way!):

  • Look at the main menu and headers on your website. Are they easy to see? Is it easy for visitors to find your shop page, commissions page, ‘about’ and contact page?
  • Are you using the right language for your categories? For example if you are selling very high-end craft pieces then naming the category ‘gallery’ might be better than describing it as ‘store’ or ‘shop’.
  • Can you minimise your shop categories to a maximum of 5 – 6 ? More categories than that is often confusing. Plus viewing this on a mobile phone will make it very cluttered and small.
  • Are your categories in a clear order of importance? Most people in the West read from left to right, so put your ‘shop’ and other key categories on the left, and ‘contact’ or ‘about’ towards the right. Can you put categories such as ‘terms & conditions’ or your privacy policy (a legal requirement by the way!) in a footer rather than in the top banner?
  • If you have got different client types (e.g. individuals, workshops, trade) or styles (e.g. bohemian and classic) then use that as a category.
  • Don’t just give the option to view your collections by their collection name, but also make it possible for your potential clients to see all the product types together e.g. all the necklaces or earrings. Especially if your collection names aren’t clear on what to expect.
  • Is your shopping process from product page to checkout page clear?

3. Is your photography professional?

I cannot stress enough the importance of quality images on your website.

Not only your hero images on your home page but also on your product pages.

Your product photos are what will really sell you and your creative products.

Your images or videos need to be highly professional. One photo is not enough.

Your photography needs to be the ‘eyes’ for your potential client, so that they can see your product from all angles (literally and figuratively).

Have at least 4-6 product images, showing:

  • The front: to show the shape or overall picture.
  • The inside: to show detail, the colour or inside of a bag.
  • Underneath or the back: to show your craftsmanship and eye for detail.
  • Close ups to show textures, the thickness of your glazes, the detail in your stitches, the quality of the paper you print on.
  • Lifestyle images to emotionally connect with your ideal clients. And to inspire them and sell them a dream. Create photography as they are used to from their favourite interior design or fashion magazines and blogs.
  • Show your work ‘at work’: Show your painting hanging in a living room above the sofa, someone wearing your beautiful earrings, your tableware on a stylishly laid table ready to be used. This is also great to show the context and size of your work.
  • Have you included some portraits of you at work? Your website visitors love behind-the-scenes images of your workspace, surroundings and your creative process too. And they love to see your face!
  • Do you show other products within the same collection too? This is great to encourage collecting your work or to up sell (for example a necklace as well as the earrings), but also to show the variety of work you do, different price levels and to show the different sizes of your pieces.

Use your images to show your ideal clients what they can do with your products. How your products can enhance their lives. Sell a feeling.

Make sure your images are as large as they can be, especially on your home page. Be generous and show off the quality of your work. That means that all your images need to be super sharp. Better to have fewer images than blurred images, as that can let your credibility slip.

Take action

Make some time to do a photography review of your website:

  • Does your homepage have the wow factor?
  • Are your images really as professional as they could be?
  • Are your product images giving enough detail about your products and showing what customers can do with them? Do they inspire your website visitors to buy from you?

Do a photography review once or twice a year. Make a list of images that you need. Either work on improving your own photography or work with a professional photographer.

Professional photography is one of the best investments you can make in your creative business.

It will pay back for itself really quickly.

Photography that’s not good enough is one of the biggest website mistakes creatives make, and most likely the reason why you are not selling online. You really do need to show you and your work at its best.

4. Is it actually easy to buy from you online?

I often see creative websites where I don’t know how I can shop!

Very often creatives assume that potential clients will get in touch if they are interested. However, most of your website visitors won’t because they aren’t that convinced (yet), or they are shy or even a little scared, or it’s not as convenient as buying elsewhere.

Some creatives try to sell work that’s actually not that easy to buy online. It’s obvious that if you want to sell highly unique pieces or expensive work that you will need to work a little harder to show your profile and credibility to your clients. It’s much more likely that your website visitor already knows you or has seen your work at a craft event or trade show, or in a magazine before they will buy online. You will need to show that you are ‘worth’ the investment. Show your reputation with events, awards or press coverage. And show how you will post very delicate or expensive work to them safely.

Maybe less obvious is the problem with selling rings. Do you show how to measure the ring size? Because if your potential client doesn’t know then it’s likely they’ll walk away.

Another very common mistake creatives make is trying to sell individual postcards online. These can sell really well at events, but selling postcards online is simply too cumbersome for your client! They would need to spend time to find the right card, order and pay relatively a lot in postage and then have to wait for a few days. Much easier to go to a shop! Instead of selling individual postcards offer packs of postcards, combine various designs or create a theme, and turn them into a gift pack as those are very popular online.

Did you know that not including the postage and packaging is one of the main reasons your potential client will abandon their cart? Although it’s not always financially possible, do try to include the UK postage within your price as people don’t like nasty surprises when they are checking out. A good solution is to have a min. order (e.g. £30) to qualify for free UK p&p. Promote this clearly on your website to encourage your website visitor to spend a bit more.

You really do need to make it as easy as possible to buy from your website. People expect convenience.

Take action

Are you assuming that your visitors will get in touch with you? Be very careful with that as it might cost you online sales or commissions. Can you turn (part of) your website into an e-commerce site where it becomes much easier to buy from you online?

Do you make it super clear how to get in touch with you? With options to get in touch by phone and email, by Facebook messenger or direct messages on Instagram? Or even to see you at events?

Do you make suggestions about other related products? This is a really useful feature on most websites that can help your clients to look for similar or additional products.

Do you let your website visitors know that they can get in touch if they would like to have items personalised or that you can offer products in different colours or sizes? That you do commissions? Many of your website visitors might not know that this is an option, so you will need to explain to them on relevant product pages in a very friendly tone that you are open to commissions and personalisations. Include a clickable link to your email so that they can get in touch easily.

Do your images and text give all the details and answers to your website visitor’s questions? What are they expecting to see and learn about you and your work on your website before they will purchase? The more you know who your ideal clients and niche is the easier it is to give them the answers they are looking for.

Do you share images of your packaging to show that you are super careful with sending your delicate work or to show how beautiful the gift will be?

What do you think is stopping your ideal clients to buy from you online? Do you know who your ideal clients are? And what they are really looking for?

How can you improve your profile, credibility and trust online to increase your chances for online sales? Make a clear list of issues and improvements and fix it.

5. Do you give enough product detail?

This is another common website mistake creatives make!

Very often I notice product descriptions that are very short, too formal and mostly factual.

Don’t be surprised then that your online sales are low! Your potential visitors want to get more detail and warm to you and your work.

Starting with the product title: Does it really sum up the product you are selling? The emotion behind it? What makes it different? Naming your collections and products is really important to position them and to build a connection with your ideal client. Product titles with the right keywords are also crucial to get found, especially on popular market places like Etsy. 

Buying creative products is very personal.

Online purchases are often a gift – for somebody else or for themselves.

Really connect with the emotion behind your creative work.

In your product description introduce your product properly, and focus on the key words: What is it? What can I see? What are the colours? Who is it for? When or where would you use it?

But go beyond the facts! Use more emotional and descriptive words to describe your product so your website visitor connects more with it, and so that they can imagine how it would look on them or in their house. That they can image buying it or giving it as a special gift.

Take action

Imagine that you are in front of a potential client. What would you tell them about this product that they are showing interest in? What is special about it? Why did you create it? What questions do you think they have about you and this product before they will buy it? Share that in your product description, and it’s very likely that your online sales will go up.

If you are struggling to write then I recommend that you record yourself talking about this creative product, and then transcribe it. There are loads of free apps available that can do this. And then you can edit this text down. This little trick can really help to make your product descriptions friendlier and more unique.

Aim to include at least 150 words per product description as this will also help with improving your website ranking on Google.

6. What to do next? No clear call-to-actions

Imagine you walk into a shop. The products are displayed nicely, and they look good. You are interested. Then you look around.

There’s no staff.

You have a question, but who can you ask?

You can’t see the till.

You have something you want to buy, but there’s no checkout.

So you leave.

This is exactly what happens on websites when you don’t put clear pathways and call-to-actions on them. Often I go to a website homepage, like the look of it, but then simply don’t know what to do next.  There are no clear call-to-actions.

Your website can look amazing, but if you’re not making it easy for people to navigate around and engage with you, they won’t hang around, and they won’t come back!

Take action

You will need to guide your visitors and show them what the next step is. Make it easy for them to stay longer on your website to browse and to shop, and make it easy to contact you and stay in touch.

Here are some simple, yet vital call-to-action to include as headers on your website:

  • Shop: This is the most direct way to tell your potential clients that they can buy from you (not always as obvious as you might think!).
  • Contact us: Visitors expect and want to easily find your contact details. You want people to start a conversation with you so be as friendly and inviting as you can. It’s often the first hurdle to overcome before they will buy or commission you.
  • Subscribe: Not everybody is ready to buy from you yet. Encourage sign-up to your email newsletter can start the process of engaging people with your business and products.

Can you include (seasonal) popups too to highlight popular items or to invite them to an event?

In a product description do you show what other similar products are available? Or to get in touch if the visitor wants to discuss something specifically? A short, friendly sentence with a clickable link directly to your email will encourage your website visitors to take that next step to buying or commissioning you.

Have you connected your social media to your website and do you invite your website visitors to follow you on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you make it easy to share your images on Pinterest?

7. Are your texts difficult to read?

Reading online is much harder than on paper. The majority of your website visitors will only skim read, and those that want more information don’t want to spend too much time or effort, so make your texts as inviting as possible.

Take action

Review your website and make reading easier and more enjoyable for your website visitors:

  • ‘Walls of text’ can be very off putting. Break up long pages of text into paragraphs, with bold text, or beautiful imagery.
  • Use sub headings. Make the sub-heading bold or in a slightly larger font. Most people skim read so ensure that your headings will get the key points of your content across.
  • Bullets points make text easier to read too and are especially good for lists.
  • Vary the lengths of your sentences. Keep them short when possible, and turn passive sentences into active ones.
  • Think about the contrast between the text and the background colour. Black text on white background is the easiest to read, however dyslexics prefer a light (not white) background.
  • Think about the size of your font. Larger fonts are easier to read than small fonts, especially for older  and dyslexic readers. Use at least 14px, or even 16px.
  • Avoid capitals and centralised text too to improve readability. And use only 2-3 different fonts: One for your headings and another one for the main copy.

8. Is your website compatible with mobile phones & tablets?

As of February 2021, 55% of all web traffic comes from mobile phones.

67% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a website that is compatible with mobile devices. So it’s no surprise that 63% of businesses who designed their website for mobiles and tablets saw an increase in sales.

When was the last time you viewed your website from a (different) mobile phone or tablet? Especially if you have had your website for more than 2 years then take a couple of minutes to review how your website shows up on different screens and computers. Even on different servers (e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox).

You might be surprised how your website looks (sometimes even garbled) on different devices. You might not be aware of these issues but it can be really damaging for your reputation and online sales.

Take action

Do check your website on different computers (PC and Apple), tablets and in different servers too. Ask a few friends with different phones or tablets too to do this experiment and tell you the outcome.

  • Has anything been resized in an odd way?
  • Can you read all the texts? Do they overlap or are the squashed? Are some texts really small on mobile phones?
  • Do any graphics, sign up forms, or photos look out of place? What happens to your images in a horizontal line?
  • Does your website fit the screen?
  • Is it difficult to zoom in or use the menu?

If so, you might need a rethink and even a complete redesign. Updating your website to be mobile phone and tablet friendly can be a huge task.  It is sometimes easier, cheaper, and quicker to start from scratch. The most common website software and online market places (e.g. Squarespace, Shopify, WordPress, Etsy) will automatically create web pages for any device so move to these options if your website is old.

Whenever you make changes to your website, check before you go live how this will look on a mobile phone and a tablet.

9. Do you use analytics?

How do you know if your website is performing as well as you would like it to be? How many visitors you get? Which pages are popular? How many visitors abandon their cart?

You need to know what’s working and what isn’t on your website, so that you can fix it.

Basically: Is the lack of online sales due to lack of visitors? Or do you get enough web visitors, but are they not buying?

If your website isn’t bringing you customers, or your visitors are not taking the action you would, then using analytics is the only way to know how to improve things.

Your own website platform’s analytics or Google analytics can let you know where your visitors are coming from, how long they stay on your website, which pages they stay on longer than others, which key words they used to find you and much more.

Take action

Have you connected your website to Google Analytics or your platform analytics?

There is so much data that you can track, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

On a very basic level track the traffic and call-to-action click rates before and after you make any changes.

Monitor your analytics on a monthly basis (not daily!). Get to know and understand them, and focus on what impacts on your visitor numbers (e.g. summer holidays or Christmas, promotional campaigns or events). In addition you can:

  • Monitor pages that are successful, so that you can create more like them. Why do you think they are popular? Are they popular all year round or is this a seasonal product? Have you included great key words or some great images?
  • Monitor pages with a high bounce rate. This gets noted when someone just visits one page, and then immediately leaves your website. You should aim for a bounce rate of between 41% – 55%. You can get the bounce rate down by trying to attract your specific niche clients by making your post titles clearer, by giving your web visitors a good online experience, by captivating them and encouraging them to stay on your website longer by including links to other pages or videos, and by going slow on annoying popups!

Your website is one of your business’s most important assets. You need to make sure it creates a great first impression and that it makes people want to stay, look around, and shop.

What will you do next? Will you review your website in detail against these 9 common website mistakes to give you better insights into how to improve your website, and to give you some detailed actions to do? We truly hope so! Let us know in the comment box below what you will do next. We love to hear from you.

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