Here are my Top 6 website mistakes that you need to avoid and how you can fix them. All are pretty simple and if you get these right then you should be well on the way to a great user experience!
#1 Not saying what you offer, clearly.
How many websites have you visited and thought ‘What is it you do exactly?’. This is not a good way to start your relationship and will most likely lead to your visitor making a swift exit. When people first land on your site you need to reassure them that they have come to the right place.
Tell them who you are and what you are offering.
Sounds simple but this can be challenging, especially if you are starting out in business and may have a number of ideas buzzing around your head about what you can offer. It is essential you make your marketing messaging crystal clear and direct.
Remember don’t use jargon unless essential. This can confuse and alienate your potential customers, especially if you are working on an international basis.
#2 Over-using animation and pop-ups
Everyone loves a pop-up or a crazy animated GIF right?! Wrong!
People have a very limited online attention span. Annoy them with a pointless moving picture and they will be gone, onto the next site or back to the calm of their browser.
Make sure any animation or video content is activated by the viewer and does not come on automatically. Auto playing videos and graphics can also take ages to load. If your page is taking too long to load then your viewer is likely to lose interest and go.
Pop ups can be effective tools to capture your readers contact details or make them aware of an amazing special offer, but think carefully before you use them and do so sparingly!
Google may also start to penalise sites with too many – follow their guidance to avoid this issue.
Hubspot has a useful in depth article if you want to find out more about pop-ups forms.
So ditch those ‘funky’ GIFs, craft your pop-ups carefully and use them only when you really must! (Oh and unless you are a musician, no music please!).
#3 Making your website too complex and difficult to navigate
Unless you are a mega-corporation or a large online retailer then you probably have no need for an overly complex website.
There are many examples out there of illogical or poorly organised websites. This is often a result of additions being made over time, without any thought given to the overall user experience.
An often-quoted rule for good web design is that your readers should only ever be 3 clicks away from the information they require. This ‘rule’ has been challenged by some, but I believe the principle is sound.
Remember if you are refreshing an existing site rather than starting from scratch, make sure you check that the end result remains user friendly and easy to navigate.
For a new site or refresh of an old one get a friend to user test it. Pretend that they are a customer and give them specific questions that you know customers are likely to have. Then watch what they do.
If there is too much clicking around trying to find the answer, then your design (or content!) isn’t great. Have a rethink then try again until it works!
#4 Your content is old or irrelevant
Keeping content fresh and relevant is vital to the success of your website, but for different reasons.
New, up to date content shows you are active and in touch with new issues and challenges that your customers may be facing. If you blog, do this regularly (i.e. every 2 weeks), but not necessarily really often.
You need to make sure your content is great quality. Your readers will appreciate this, if this means that you don’t publish every week then don’t stress about it.
This is especially important if you also email you blog to your readers. Value their time and they will respect you for it!
Keeping your content relevant and related to what your business offers is important. It should offer your readers useful and practical steps that they can take to help them in their life or business.
Ideal content is ‘evergreen’. This means that it does not age and will still be relevant in a years time. This is difficult in fast moving areas such as technology (and web design!), but this should be your goal. If necessary you may need to regularly review and amend older content, or do a complete refresh.
Finally remember that irrelevant information on your site is your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) enemy! – You want your content to be in line with what you offer as a business, so that search engines such as Google will pick your site up organically when people search for related words.
If you include unrelated content this will send confusing messages to Google and your readers, meaning you lose potential customers. Don’t do it!
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#5 Being either too corporate or completely unprofessional!
There is a challenging line to tread between your website not coming across overly ‘corporate’ or on the flip side looking amateurish and unprofessional.
If you are reading this the chances are you are a solo-entrepreneur or small businesses owner and one of your key attributes is your small size. Use this to your advantage.
Do not make the mistake of pretending to be larger than you are. If you are a solo practitioner – this is a great selling point as people will know exactly who will be working with them or for them – YOU! So do not feel the need to use ‘we’ unless it’s true. Otherwise this is confusing and misleading for your readers.
You need to make sure your website is appealing to your target audience. Try and get in the mindset of who you are targeting and start with that. Then inject a bit of your personality to make it stand out and unless you are aiming for a very specific market try not to be too quirky!
Use your ‘About Us / Me’ page to tell your potential customers who you are and what you represent. This is a very important page for soloprenuers as ultimately your customers will be buying into you. Connect with your readers here and making a sale will be so much easier.
#6 No ‘call to action’
A ‘call to action’ is any action that you want your reader to take once they have landed on your webpage. It can be a ‘Buy Now’ button, a ‘Schedule an Appointment’ feature, or even a well placed / timed pop up where you can offer a free product in exchange for your readers email / contact details.
Without a call to action you are losing an opportunity to connect with your reader at a future date or make a sale. What a waste!
Make sure you avoid this one and consider what actions you want your reader to take once on your site and make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Bonus Tip – Respect your reader's time (RYRT)!
Respect your reader's time! I mentioned this earlier, but I think it is definitely worth repeating and considering in all your communications and marketing both online and offline.
We are all time starved and our online browsing habits reflect that. If we don’t get what we want within a few seconds or clicks we are off to the next site – like a butterfly in a meadow full of flowers.
You have a limited time to capture your customer’s attention and providing them with a call to action. Do not waste their time with filler or useless information.
Make sure they can get what they want from your website, fast. Fail this test and they will be gone. Make this easy and you are on the way to making a sale!