It is an exciting and sometimes stressful time getting a website for your business, especially your first one. There are so many things to think about and then loads more you’re probably not aware of.
Unfortunately the process of “getting a website because we need a website” often yields a finished product that does not provide a business the full return on investment possible. Tight timescales or a small budget are sometimes the root of the cause, as is finding a web designer that is not the right fit for your business and niche.
What ever the cause, we can all learn from the different ways that businesses get their websites wrong and use this new found knowledge to improve our online presence. Here’s 8 things that we commonly see businesses do badly when it comes to their website:
Designing for your own personal taste
Always been a fan of gifs? Partial to an animation or two in your website design? Perhaps you’ve been working on this website idea for the past decade and haven’t updated your vision in line with current trends.
Aside from some best practises, quite a large part of why you appreciate certain designs comes down to personal taste. Whilst we would definitely encourage individuality and creativity in design, this needs to be applied in line with a businesses target audience and their brand and not explicitly down to what you as an individual prefer.
It pays to work with an experienced web designer here who has an outside perspective and a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Talking too much about themselves and not about value
Yes, we all want to scream as loud as possible about how we’re better than our competitors. The trouble is when we describe ourselves and our services we often make the mistake of outlining the what rather than the why.
When we’re on the internet, we’re all a bit selfish. We want to find what we’re looking for as quickly as possible. During the small window when we get the chance to engage with a website visitor it’s important to communicate the value of our services instead of describing them.
If you do not adjust your written copy so that it emphasises how your services will benefit a visitor you are not getting the full marketing potential out of your investment. See the next point…
Not creating a marketing tool
Are you one of the many many businesses out there that got a website for no other reason than you thought everybody had one? Whilst you’d be correct, getting a website made for the sake of it does not bring any value.
In this age, businesses that do not use their website as their central marketing tool are in the minority. When planning a web design project it is valuable to include how you will generate traffic to your website once it is launched. This can be as simple as telling friends and family or investing in SEO.
Once visitors hit your website, have you thought about how you will convert them to customers? Is your “call to action” obvious and easy to follow? From including legitimate testimonials for social validation to how you structure your pages and written copy, there are loads of things that can be done to improve your conversions.
Don’t fall into the trap that many businesses get stuck in by creating a website without any thought to how it will benefit your bottom line.
Going for the cheapest offer
It’s funny how many people don’t pay attention to the fact that you get what you pay for (we do it too). We understand that on occasion you can get lucky and find a talented, thorough web designer at the beginning of their career to provide a website at a cheaper rate. However we would wager that most projects involving a cheap quote or overseas freelancer found on websites like Fiverr don’t end well.
Definitely shop around and get a number of quotes for your next website project, though bare in mind that completing a website thoroughly takes time. Arguably the most important aspects of creating a website happen behind the scenes (e.g. optimising for load speed, SEO and security). We guarantee that the cheaper quotes are that price because the web developers will avoid doing any of these things – lowering the chances of your success without you even knowing it.
“Do that for now, we’ll add to it later”
We’re often involved in projects whereby we’re asked to fill some pages with filler text or leave out certain sections because time is tight and other things get in the way.
Unfortunately leaving things until later regularly means that they never gone done at all. Your website is your online shop window and you need to ensure that your displays are top notch.
It’s easier for you (and better for your business) if you invest the time to finish a new website once so that you know it is passively drawing as many new customers as possible.
Using stock images
There are a few great royalty free image websites out there that have thousands of pictures that you can use instead of taking your own.
The only problem is that stock images look… like stock images. If there’s one thing that turns away visitors it is tacky stock images, generic testimonial pictures and americanised staged desk photos.
Creating a website is a great opportunity to bring everything up to speed so businesses should invest the time to take images themselves. Whether you take pictures on your phone or hire a photographer, images of you, your business and team work so much better for building trust with your online visitors. People sell people after all!
Skimping on the finer details
It’s true that websites need to look good. They need to develop an organisation’s brand, be easy to use and engaging. It’s also true that this isn’t where the work ends. Creating a site that is search engine friendly, mobile responsive, loads fast and is secure takes a little more time.
Businesses often engage website designers that are very good at design, but sometimes neglect the back end details that are required to get a full return on investment. For this reason it’s important to discuss these aspects with a potential agency or freelancer before you purchase their services.
If you have any questions about this post or how we can help you, we’d love to hear from you.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.