This article is an excerpt from our Consumer Awareness Guide to Website Design. Download your copy today for more essential information about how to effectively plan, hire & avoid costly mistakes.
Is your website giving you problems? Or are you struggling through the process of getting a website? You've come to the right place.
Building a website may look easy, but there are minefields everywhere. One wrong decision could cost you, big time. 99% of people aren't web specialists...let's just say, a lot of mistakes are being made. Expensive mistakes. But avoidable ones.
After a decade of experience as a digital marketing consulting agency for small and medium-sized businesses, we've learned to navigate through the minefield... and rescued a few of our clients along the way.
These 5 simple tips will guide you through the minefield too, and help you avoid those costly traps.
Mistake #1 - DIY Websites
Lots of marketing dollars are spent to convince you that being a web designer is as easy as counting to 3. It's not that simple. Only a tiny percentage of people have the knowledge, time, and mental fortitude to actually finish their website. You could spend weeks trying to figure out how it all works and learn about:
- Domain mapping
- Responsive design
- Writing engaging content
And after all that effort, you would realize that there are still crucial little details that you simply didn't know about...like how to make your website load faster!
Imagine a prospective customer with a 3G connection on their phone. They go to your website and have to wait 30 secs before it loads. Not only does it make you look bad, but you've probably lost a prospect.
As Google announced recently, speed, especially mobile speed score, is a factor for Google Search and Ads.
And that's just one aspect you might overlook.
Here's an example of what might happen if you use a DIY website builder
This website was made by the popular WIX website builder. It's a beautiful design...but because it lacks specialized knowledge, it end up with a horrible user experience.
How do I measure the quality of my site?
There are a few websites you can use to measure the quality and performance of your website. Check out Google's own Pagespeed Insight or GTMetrix. Enter your website and see how you rank both in the score and in load time.
Mistake #2 - Hiring an amateur
WordPress, WIX and Foursquare are all in the same race to make websites easier to build for people who don't know how to code. This means that more and more people can advertise themselves as "web designers" and charge big bucks for it.
Since they're not web developers (for the most part), they may not know:
- How to reduce your chances of being hacked
- Setting up proper backups and caching
- How to make a design focused on turning visitors into clients
- And on and on...
For example, one of the most common amateur mistakes is not working with a development checklist. This means that they could forget to allow your site to be found by Google. (Yeah, we've seen it happen...more than once.) Forgetting to click that little checkbox when the site is ready to launch may cause thousands of dollars of lost sales.
We've included 12 questions to ask before hiring a web developer in our Consumer Awareness Guide to Getting a Business Website. Make sure to download it and use those questions before hiring a web developer or designer.
Mistake #3 - Demanding WordPress
WordPress’s marketing team goes HARD on this fact: "More than 30% of the internet is powered by WordPress."
But between you and me, most of the internet websites are garbage. Sorry (not sorry) for the harshness. Believe me, you don't want to be added to that percentage. You want to be counted among the small percentage of beautiful, user-friendly, high-performance quality design!
We used to build WordPress sites all the time, but after a few years we decided enough was enough. We were charging a fortune in maintenance because, at any time, the site might break just because the latest version of a plugin, theme or WordPress came out.
With 30% of the internet powered by them, they are a huge target for hackers.
Unless you're the type of person that wants to tinker around your website, change, need a blog, and add content on a weekly basis, you simply don't need WordPress. There are other less costly options out there that'll reduce the headache of having a business website.
Mistake #4 - Failing to strategize
A business website is more than a digital business card. It's where people will land whenever they are looking to know more about you, your business, and what it can do for them. A website lets you start a conversation, build "know, like, and trust," and make a good impression.
A website isn't the end of your online marketing strategy; it's a small piece of a whole. So even before you sit down with a web designer, think about how your website fits inside the journey your clients takes: from needing your service all the way to choosing YOU to solve their problem or realize their dream.
Example: Walking through the customer's journey
Let's say you're a hairdresser. The first place people will find you is on Google Maps when they search "hairdresser near me." Then they might move to your site to see if you're the person for the job. Finally, once they're on the site, the ideal call to action would be to have a scheduling system to setup an appointment. The future client will be mostly interested to know: 1) when you are open, 2) what type of client you serve (high end or barbershop), and 3) if you're available when they need their haircut.
If your website is only Phone, Name, & Serial Number, you might not engage with your prospect's questions and needs.
Mistake #5 - Failing to make your site multi-device friendly
We're no longer in 2010: with more than half of the online traffic happening on mobile phones, it's no longer acceptable to have a website that doesn't work across multiple devices. But it's not just about having a smooshed version of your site whenever it's on mobile...it's about how easy it is to scroll rather than click!
For example, on desktop, it's "okay" to have a bare-bone homepage that's the size of the screen. The menu is right there and visitors are much more likely to click around to navigate. But on mobile, you would give a much better experience if the user could learn everything they have to learn just by scrolling. Adding a contact form at the bottom of the page could increase your chance of getting responses from mobile users, rather than asking them to click once to see the menu and then a second time to get to the contact page.
These little details make a huge difference over time.
How do I avoid these costly mistakes?
The number one way to reduce mistakes is to be armed with a bit of knowledge before hiring a web specialist. That's why we created the Consumer Awareness Guide to Website Design. You don't need to be a geek or know too much technical jargon to reduce mistakes. You just have to know enough to recognize the ripoffs and do business with the right people.
We hoped you've enjoyed learning about the 5 costly mistakes business owners make with their business website. With this knowledge in your pocket, you can move forward! Download a copy of our Consumer Awareness Guide to arm yourself with all the knowledge you need to make an educated decision.