We get a lot of new clients whose first request is that we do something about their website.
They don’t like it any more. (Or they hated it from day one.) As we get started on transforming their site, we often discover common website mistakes that can hurt businesses.
If we were obnoxious snarksters, we’d tell clients “We wouldn’t have done that.” Fortunately, we’re not jerks, so we don’t say that. We know how hard it is to make dozens of decisions as you’re building a site. We know that even good decisions can become “mistakes” as the internet evolves faster than fruit flies.
Here are a few of the most common website mistakes. Think of this brief overview as a table of contents for future posts that will dig deeper into each topic. You might spot a problem your site suffers from—and maybe get someone to fix it. (Doesn’t have to be us—although, you know, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Many recommend us, including us.)
MISTAKE #1: THE STRATEGY THAT ISN’T THERE.
Some questions are so obvious that it’s easy to forget to even ask them. What is the purpose of your site? What do you want visitors to do once they get there? Any plans to measure results and adapt the site in response?
MISTAKE #2: THE NAVIGATION TO NOWHERE.
We’re not just talking about broken links. (That is a common problem, but one that can be addressed with a modest site maintenance effort.) We’re talking about (for example) navigation categories that are too clever for their own good. Or mega-menus so large they are verging on being just another website on top of the first one.
MISTAKE #3: ALL FROSTING, NO CAKE.
It’s important that your site be visually attractive, but don’t make the mistake of stopping there. True, some visitors are dazzled and converted by a beautiful surface alone. But cast a wider net by including meaty content, performing link optimization, and other traffic-generating methods.
MISTAKE #4: THE FUNNEL THAT’S ACTUALLY A CONE.
Poor conversion doesn’t necessarily mean your visitors never even entered the sales funnel. They might have dived right in but gotten stuck—perhaps because your funnel isn’t the frictionless ride it should be.
MISTAKE #5: PAGE LOADS THAT . . .
…take too long. And by “too long,” we mean “longer than a few milliseconds.” Yes, in the digital age, we have all become frantic toddlers. Keeping load times zippy is hugely important, and should drive decisions during the build phase. Once the site is up, clocking page load times and performing maintenance tasks should be second nature.
MISTAKE #6: FORMS THAT ARE BORING—EVEN FOR FORMS.
Nobody expects to be captivated by a form. They just want the chore of filling fields to be over with. Make it as easy as possible by keeping the number of required fields to the absolute minimum. And don’t be nosy—if you really want to know your prospect’s birthday or eye color, save it for after you’ve made a connection.
MISTAKE #7: THE DEAD STARES OF THE PHONY STOCK PEOPLE
Don’t get us wrong—we are not dead-set against stock photos. We’re dead-set against dead stock photos. The ones with people that are WAY TOO HAPPY about looking at a laptop screen with four of their friends looking over their shoulder, also ecstatic about the screen. We’re not fooled by the smiles, people!
If your site is suffering from any of these digital maladies, you’ll be happy to know that they are all solvable. We suggest not dilly-dallying — a lot rides on the perception your website creates.