Build it and they will come

Build it and they will come so long as you treat it as a evolving garden rather than a static business brochure

A website is like a garden that will get lost amongst the weeds and stronger plants if you don’t look out for it. It needs to be pruned, nurtured and cared for to see growth. You have to accept that some parts are dying off, and replant or repurpose. You have to give up on things which just won’t grow, and find things which do. You need to remove the deadheads, plant some fresh ideas regularly and keep the weeds at bay. There are many conscious actions that need to be taken in order to see that what you have built flourishes to its fullest potential and generates the results you are hoping for.

Your website is the online face of your business. Have you got an online presence you are proud of? Does your site tell people what you can do for them and how you do it? Can visitors get this information quickly and easily? When was the last time you audited your business website? It is worth taking five minutes today to check you are not making any of these common mistakes.

1. Unclear website purpose

If the viewer is not intrigued, or doesn’t understand what problem your business solves in a short first glance, they will most likely move on to something else. Too much emphasis on the business, while not adequately addressing potential customer needs will turn them away. Let the visitors know how the business can solve their problems first then introduce the business in a way that demonstrates its quality and trustworthiness.

2. No call to action

A call to action gets visitors to focus on what their next step is. It provides them with some direction. Use content that describes the value of your products or services (the ‘What’s in it for me‘ statement) along with a compelling phrase/button that prompts action with active, urgent language such as Get Started, Talk To Us or Sign Up Now. Make your call to action obvious.

3. No search box

The web is like an archive of information. A basic search box on your web site allows people to search your entire site for what they are looking for.

4. No favicon

A favicon brands a site and is also saved alongside a bookmark so that users can easily identify pages from a website. It’s critical for site recognition in a browser full of tabs and a great opportunity to expand your site’s branding.

5. Poor spelling and grammar

Spelling and grammar mistakes can be very irritating to your visitors. Typos and errors in your website suggests poor attention to detail, can damage your credibility and is one of the quickest ways to appear less than professional.

6. Broken links

Test your site thoroughly for broken links. These are annoying and disappointing to a visitor and likely to result in loss of potential business opportunities.

7. Badly organised content

A messy page prevents users from quick scanning. Your visitors need to be able to quickly scan your site and find the content they are looking for.

8. Confusing navigation

How easily can a newcomer navigate through your site? If your site visitors can’t easily figure out how to browse through it, they will leave. Crowded menus, elements, links and buttons that are too close to one another and vague sense of direction as to which elements are actionable are all design problems that drive visitors to leave a website. It is hopeful to think that a potential customer wants to bother with clicking everything on the page in an attempt to find what they is looking for.

9. Hard to find contact information

It should not take a visitor more than five seconds to find contact information.

10. No social media integration

Make sure that you enable visitors easily share your content on their social media profiles. Social media is digital word of mouth and really powerful marketing tool.

11. Poor, outdated content

Website visitors are looking for useful information that clarifies that you can solve their problems. Make sure all information is up to date. Google and other search engines trust and pay more attention to websites that have unique and up-to-date content. The frequency of the Google spiders visiting your site depends on how often you update it.

12. Lack of social proof and trust signals

Social proof is a powerful indicator of trust. Include just a few of your best (short) quotes on the homepage, and link to case studies if applicable. Alternatively, this could be a collection of client/partner logos with links to their sites. In addition to customer success stories, both awards and recognition can also help inspire a good first impression. Let your homepage visitors know of your accomplishments. Like social proof, it gives your business more credibility to those who don’t know you.

13. Not tested across browsers and devices

If your site is not device responsive, spend the money now to make it so. More and more people are accessing the internet, surfing and making purchases on tablets and mobile phones than ever before. With mobile devices now accounting for more than half of the global web usage, having your site optimised for mobile viewing is an absolute necessity. If a visit to your web site is a positive experience, you have a much better chance of converting prospects to clients.

14. Inconsistent branding

Your business website is another opportunity to present your brand’s personality. Make sure you are delivering a cohesive message.

15. Overall inconsistency across the site

Website layouts that change drastically from page to page are distracting and confusing for visitors. Keep placement of navigational elements consistent across the site.

16. Text is difficult to read

Poor contrast between the text colour and the background, tiny letter size that requires a magnifying glass, using multiple fonts that confuse and tire the readers or just cramping too many words on a single page will all make reading your content more difficult. Long lines of text across a screen also make text difficult to read. The key to fixing this is by using columns or skinnier paragraphs which make it easier for our eyes to follow the text.

17. Ineffective use of space including whitespace

Don’t fill all the space with clutter. This causes information overload and confuses your visitors as they are forced to sort through large blocks of text, flashy promotional offers and sales pitches. Your poor design and planning will them away quickly.

18. Use of images

Images can be used to capture users’ attention but they can also be a distraction or just plain aggravating. Make sure you have appropriate images that tell the story of your business and brand. Photos and graphics should visually enhance the appearance of your site as well as support and substantiate your copy. Blurred photos, bad cropping and low-resolution images will diminish the credibility of the website, because they are unprofessional looking. Present quality visuals correctly.

Don’t have the attitude that if you build a website, people will come. Approach it as if it is a growing garden by scheduling regular maintenance and updates to keep it functioning properly, attracting visitors and generating business. Your website can be an interactive marketing tool to engage, educate, be effective, entertain, encourage action and leave visitors with a memorable impression of your business. Identifying some of these common mistakes and eliminating them from your site will put you in a better competitive position to achieve both short and long-term success.

Caroline Siassios

About Caroline Siassios

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