Welcome to part 3 of a 4-part series dedicated to the avoidance of common mistakes businesses make with marketing, advertising, brand development, web design and social media.
This installment is for Marketing Mistakes to Avoid: Website Design
1). Responsive Design
Why not start with the low-hanging fruit? If you haven’t already, get acquainted with Responsive Web Design. RWD is common practice among modern web interfaces, and insures that your site layout is optimized for a wide variety of device sizes. With mobile accounting for nearly 50% of modern web traffic, you can’t afford not to address your site’s mobile-friendly visitors.
BONUS: Thanks to “Mobilegeddon” in April, Google now rewards the responsive sites it indexes, meaning increased chance of discovery for mobile traffic.
2). Lacking a Clear Content Strategy
All too often, businesses come to us wanting to revise their website, without any clear plan or strategy for content priorities. Today’s websites are more than just a digital booklet. Visitors want to find what they’re looking for, and they want to find it fast.
Instead of leading users through paragraph after paragraph of copy that can be overwhelming to the user, condense your site’s content into easily digestible chunks. Chunks are more easily scannable, and are perfect for reading on a screen. Establish goals for your users to achieve like clicking call-to-action buttons, purchasing products, or simply browsing areas for minimum time periods. By better understanding your visitor’s behaviors, it becomes much easier to provide a faster and more pleasant experience for them, increasing the likelihood that they’ll choose you over your competition.
3). Getting to the Point
Lots of companies LOVE to greet visitors on their homepage with a generic mission statement, something like “Offering fast-paced business solutions in a team-friendly environment with lots of synergy” and so on. Don’t do this. Nobody ever reads them, and it will likely push your visitors to find what they want somewhere else.
Instead, solve their problem now. Headlines like “Find your perfect domain name” from GoDaddy, immediately address visitors reasons for visiting your site in the first place without requiring them to sift through line after line of mindless corporate speak.
4). Less is More
Want to increase user engagement? Want to sell more products in your webstore? Reduce the distractions. Make your call-to-action the most important aspect of the page by reducing all the other clutter. Plainly and simply tell your users what you would like them to do. It’s that simple.
5). Avoid Using Sliders
Sliders, for those unfamiliar with the term, are blocks of content, usually with a headline and image of some sort, that rotate every few seconds. Slides rarely encourage user engagement, and because of their short time limits, they lack the ability to employ a longer textual message. Not to mention that users rarely, if ever, click through multiple slides! Avoid this distraction altogether and focus on quickly solving user’s problems (notice a recurring theme here?).
6). Neglecting Website Upkeep
So your site’s finally finished. Now what? Make plans to update your site’s content. Maybe it’s a blog, or small chunks of information for the homepage, but whatever you choose, make sure you update regularly. Arriving to find stale content is a sure-fire way to chase visitors away. As for returning users, frequently updating content gives them much more incentive to return once they’ve left, not to mention Search Engines prefer frequently updated content.
Another aspect that can sometimes be neglected is website maintenance. Most modern sites run on some sort of CMS (Content Management System) allowing administrators to edit and manage content. That CMS is nothing more than a piece of software that is often subject to a variety of updates to its core files as well as any extensions. Develop a plan to keep this up to date. One of the leading causes of security vulnerabilities is outdated components, so whether you’re employing a fully managed host, or hiring a professional for regular “white-glove” inspections and updates, make keeping your site update a priority for your site’s vitality.
7). Having Poor Navigation
This one’s pretty straightforward. If I can’t find what I’m looking for, or am confused, I’m leaving right away. I’m not going to stick around and click link after link until I find what I’m looking for. Avoid poor navigation by choosing terms that are clear and concise, include search when possible and find new ways to increase discovery of nested content with callouts and prompts where possible.
8). Failing to Find Contact Info
This, along with your social media links, should be extremely easy to find for obvious reasons. Putting contact and social info in the footer of your site can help address this because your footer is (most often) loaded on every page. Don’t make visitors HAVE to visit a contact page or section to get information like your phone number or Facebook account. Make it easy, and follow existing design conventions.
9). Don’t Be Slow
As we forge forward into the digital age, we do so with very little patience. Site load times need to be fast because today’s users will simply not wait for your page to render. Do what’s necessary to insure prompt, fast load times for all pages.
10). Test! Test! Test!
Test, test and test again. Check for dead or broken links, inconsistencies and bugs. Test the interface on your friends, family, and strangers. You’ll be surprised how much you learn from watching somebody else fumble through your website. What makes perfect sense to you and the developer may be confusing for your Mother, and if she’s your company or product’s target audience, then you’ve got a big problem on your hands!
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