We have spoken with over 1,000 businesses over the years, and regularly come across businesses making the same mistakes with their website over and over again.
Are you making any of the following 7 mistakes with your business website?
1. Using DIY or Free Tools
Don’t get me wrong, DIY, Free and WordPress type tools all have their place; especially if you are running a Bootstrapped business starting up on a shoestring budget then there are plenty of tools out there which you can use. I’m not going to go into which ones are the best, it’s not our field of expertise. The reason for DIY and Free website tools being so poor is that they tend to lack features, hold lots of code bloat, be buggy and difficult to customise. At the end of the day you may be an expert in your field, but you are not a web designer. Would you consider building your own house or car? Probably not, so why would you try that approach with your website.
A good website is designed to engage potential customers and generate sales and enquiries for your business, it should also grow as your business grows. DIY and Free options place barriers which disable this.
Quite often when I say this to business owners, their response is, “Well, I built my own website using WordPress and it does generate enquiries for me.” – That’s great, but what if you could have a website which generates 10 times or even 100 times more enquiries than you are currently getting? How would that feel?
However, when your business is established and you require a wider feature set on your website, which needs to now scale at the same pace as your business, you really need to consider having a bespoke web presence built by seasoned web professionals. Engaging with an established online or digital agency means that you get the added bonus of working with professionals who also understand business strategy, growth and optimisation.
2. Using The Framework
It’s usually left to the web developer to choose their preferred framework to build your website on. There are many community driven projects which are well-known and highly supported. Occasionally, faddy frameworks appear within our field, and it is best to try and avoid these where possible. When you subscribe to a new telephone/broadband provider, for example, they will try and sell you a domain, and then also onto their hosting and website builder platforms – just remember that BP don’t sell cars, so why would a telephone provider be any good at building websites?
The key here is to align your online strategy with your business objectives. If you plan to be selling 10,000 products a month within 3 years, perhaps a DIY framework isn’t the best option and you certainly don’t want to have gone through the pain of uploading thousands of products into one platform to have to then migrate across onto another platform in another 6 months.
The most common mistake is trying to shoehorn a community driven CMS into some kind of bespoke application, which there is no plugin or add-on available to do so. Again, to use the car analogy, it’s like buying a standard Ford Focus and then expecting it to be a suitable track day car. You have to customise the suspension, enhance the brakes, add an extra turbo and remove all the excess weight in order to make it go faster. Community driven platforms are bloated, slow, not secure and difficult/costly to customise.
3. Too Many Features
As a business owner it is more likely that your website is there to inform than it is to entertain. I am a firm believer of the KISS principles; Keep It Simple, Stupid! This is a mantra which should be applied to websites for a number of reasons, but the two main ones are:
-Feature bloat adds time and cost to development
-Complicated features tend to confuse website visitors; in other words it will put potential customers off
You have between 5-7 seconds to grab someone’s attention, when they first land on your website, to tell them who you are and what you do. And if you have loads of complicated bells and whistles all over your website you will confuse the user and they will leave your website and visit one of your competitors instead. Ask yourself, “Do I want this feature or do I need this feature?”
4. Not Listening To Advice
Engaging with an online agency means that you’re paying a premium to get access to business and online strategy experts. If you just want a company to build you a website, then find a web development agency who does just that. However, it will be much more valuable to your business in the longer-term if you find an agency who is willing to question your better judgement and make suggestions as to how your website can be improved.
Websites are subjective and business owners are wary of doing things which goes against their brand perception. They also feel that they have the greatest understanding of their brand, which makes conversations about poor quality logos, bad choice of stock photography and positioning of elements on a web page very awkward.
A good agency will take time to understand your business, strategy and marketing objectives. So, nip it in the bud early; if they are not asking the right questions it’s likely you’re going to end up with something you don’t like. A good agency will have sound reasoning behind their decisions, design and implementation and even if it doesn’t feel right, you will likely be surprised by the end results.
5. Not Committing To Regular Updates
There are two types of problematic customers when it comes to updating their website.
The first are those who never update their website. They’ve had the same website for 8 years, it generates enquiries and they are afraid of changing their website for fear of losing the website traffic that they are already attaining. An outdated website really shows itself as web design trends move so quickly now. We used to recommend a website re-design every 3 years, but that is now every 2 years. Many companies also overhaul their brand and forget to update their website to reflect this which means presenting an inconsistent look and feel to potential customers which increases buyer confusion.
Secondly, there are those who want every feature possible; a CMS, a blog, product listings, event listings, eCommerce, Social Media etc but then never bother to update their content. Having a website with news articles which are two years old, and the same content as 3 years ago, and product pages which say “coming soon” on them just looks unprofessional and doesn’t help with SEO rankings. Sometimes it is better to have a simple 5 page website with little content on it than an oversized website with little content on it. Your website is your primary sales tool where you can engage potential customers, so treat is as such and commit to updating your website regularly.
6. Not Making Use Of The Free Testing Tools Available
I’ve written an article on The Seven Best Tools for Testing Your Website. These are “Freemium” tools which offer a free testing version in all cases and a paid-for premium version in some of the cases (with extra functionality).
The primary reason for using these tools is to ensure that you are accountable for the quality of your own website. Even if you can’t fix the errors and warnings yourself, it will:
1. Highlight that the Free/DIY tool you used to build your website with isn’t up to scratch
2. Your web developer needs to pull their finger out and ensure your site reaches a certain level of quality
3. The online agency you used to build your website have done a great job!
Do not just rest on your laurels once your website is set up and running because standards compliance issues affect pagerank (search engine optimisation) and also how your website looks on the hundreds of different web browsers available. If your website isn’t performing optimally then you’ll be losing customers somewhere in the funnel.
Within this category I also include Google Analytics. It’s all well and good optimising your website; you also need to measure its performance as well in terms of Site Visitors and Goal Conversions. When you update your website you can see whether it has had a positive or negative impact on your website traffic using Analytics tools and fine tune your website further.
Objectives need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. Measure, measure, measure and then implement a feedback loop for continual improvement.
7. Not Asking For Help
We do very often come across business owners who are simply happier doing it themselves. With websites, however, what you see isn’t always what you get. Sometimes paying a small amount of money for some advice is invaluable. We provide a support mechanism for our customers which means they pay a small amount on a monthly basis and they can call us for advice about their online strategy whenever they like without the clock ticking.