Is your website killing your business?

If you haven’t updated your website in a while, how well is it working for you? What was cutting edge 2 years ago is now standard practise, and will be old hat in a year’s time, if not six months. Is your website your company’s best friend or it’s worst enemy? How might your website be hurting your business?

1 Outdated copy
Is your site still talking about Apple’s forthcoming super-secret tablet computer, and speculating if it will be called iSlate or iTablet? Make sure your copy is up to date.

2 Hard to find your site
You need to understand what words and phrases your customers when they are looking for your products, and make sure your site uses these frequently, so your site appears in search engine results pages. Not only that, but you’ll need to make sure you update your site regularly with fresh content to stay relevant to the search engines. Your page titles, page summaries, image filenames, image titles and page content should reflect what people are looking for.

3 Hard to find what I need
Web navigation has become pretty standardised these days – you either have a list of pages/sections running down the right hand side of your page, or in the header at the top of the page. This is where people instinctively look when they land on your site. There are ways you can enhance this though, by fixing your navigation so it doesn’t move when your page scrolls, by including drop-down or fly-out menus for sub-sections or individual pages, or including graphics in your menus. If your site has lots of pages and sections, it’s a good idea to also include a “breadcrumb navigation” so it’s easy to backtrack through the site.

4 Hard to make contact
I’ve found your site, and despite the fact it looks goddamn awful, and it was really hard to find the product, I know from my Google searches that you are one of the few places in my area that sells what I want. If only I knew if you would still be open so I can swing by after work? Or if your widget is compatible with my doohickey?

Sure, you don’t want to be dealing with emails and phone calls all day, and feel free to direct me to a comprehensive FAQ, but you’ll be losing out on business if you bury your contact details in the footer of your site and your competitor has their phone number on every page.

5 Badly designed
Design is about so much more than just pretty colours, shapes and fonts. Each market demographic has styles and visual references that “speak” to them, that they can identify with. All colours have associations – White is clean, minimal, Blue is used to establish trust, etc. It isn’t good enough to use green for your website because it’s your favourite colour. How colours interact with each other is also important to consider – Red will stand out a mile against pretty much anything for example.
Think about how you expect a website for a bank to look, compared to a fashion retailer? Not just that, but a well designed page with a proper visual hierarchy and well considered typography will lead a visitors eye to where you want them to go, and help them find the information they need quickly.
If you want an example of how NOT to do it, try this Ironically, this guy is also pitching himself as a web designer!

6 Not solving problems
You know that your product solves a problem for people, but you have to make sure your customers know that. Does your homepage spend all it’s time talking about how successful you are, or how you can make life easier for its visitors? On your sales pages, make sure your website describes your product in terms of benefits, rather than simply listing its features. (A benefit is a result of using a feature).

7 Under construction
It’s not necessarily a mortal sin to put a “coming soon” holding page up while you build your site. However, there are right and wrong ways to do this. Simply posting a page that says “under construction” adds no value to your business. You’ve somehow managed to get a visitor to your site, but now there’s nothing for them to do.

If you’re guilty of any of the above, there’s no time like the present to make a change. One of the most important things any website should have is high quality, on-topic content that is regularly updated. Consider moving your website to a Google-friendly Content Management System like WordPress, so you can update more of the site yourself, and maybe even incorporate a blog. You’ll need a graphic/web designer to handle the transition, but you’ll be impressed with how easy the site is to update once it’s up and running.

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