When I’m in the market for a new phone, pen, bag, cosmetics, yoga teacher, even a dentist, I google it. I check a couple of websites, compare prices where I can and either buy online, pick up the phone or visit the nearest store. I already know what I want. I get all my information on the Internet. So it’s a pity when I come across websites that are poorly designed, have dated information and make my online shopping experience a tad too hard. The business could possibly be losing online prospects like me regularly. The sad part is, they don’t even know it.
1. It’s all about you
Content should always be developed with customers in mind, in a language they understand. It is easy to fall into the trap of writing content that is full of jargon and littered with corporate speak. Or worse, it’s all about you and how good you are. Writing needs to be simple, persuasive and engaging. The best way to do this is to get into the mind of your customer: what’s in it for them and why should they believe you?
2. It’s not designed to “sell”
A website should be seen as a sales channel that needs proper management, constant maintenance and vigilant monitoring. Even if you don’t physically sell anything on your website. Research shows that people tend to look up a website before they pick up the phone or visit a store. Your site therefore has the critical job of convincing prospects or customers to shortlist you as they make an important purchase decision, even before you see or speak to them. So make sure it is always up-to-date, has a strong call-to-action and contact details are easily accessible.
3. It ignores search engines
At its very basic, search engines operate in a text-based world. When search engine “spiders” drop by to read your web content, they look at text. Make sure yours has plenty of it. Headings, titles and body copy should contain keywords that are relevant and consistent with the overall website theme. More importantly, content should be unique – not borrowed or copied from other websites.
Be careful of the eye candy -images, movie clips, or Flash animations- so compelling to the human eye. Wrongly placed, these visuals get in the way and “trap” spiders, obstructing them from doing their job of indexing your site.
4. Your web address is hard to say, remember or spell
There is nothing worse than coming up with a web address nobody can spell. It’s best to avoid words that require consulting a dictionary. Abbreviations and acronyms (eg. jsdf.com for Jen Smith Discount Flowers) can be tricky as it is harder to remember letters than meaningful words.
But if you must use a name that is potentially problematic, it is a good idea to register different variations including the most common typos and point traffic to your main website.
5. It gives people a headache
Maddening motion, long blocks of text, wrong colour scheme, inconsistent look and feel, poor navigation and slow page downloads all contribute to poor website experience and should therefore be avoided. It is worth consulting a web or graphic designer before embarking on a web design project.
6. You pay someone $120 /hr to make small changes
It is no longer necessary to spend thousands of dollars building a website, let alone maintaining one. If you are in the market for a redesign, opt for a website with a content management system. You’ll be able to easily update web content (product information, pricing, images, etc) at any time with a click of a button.
Robelen Bajar is Group Marketing Manager at Melbourne IT, which helps entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses online. Visit www.melbourneit.com.au.