by Monika Beck | Featured Contributor
Are you ever frustrated with your website?
Setting up a new website is easy. In fact, it’s too easy. That’s part of the reason so many sites out there are poorly designed and never really get any traction.
With a few clicks you can register your domain name, then quickly install WordPress. Then you can spend a few hours researching the right theme and then another few hours installing all of your “must have” plugins.
All this simplicity can get you in a lot of trouble, fast.
Consider the following to avoid mistakes that will hurt your business:
Lack of Vision – Everything on your website should be there for a reason. Every image, article, or blog post should serve a purpose. They should all be connected by a central theme. Know why you are writing a new article. What is your goal with the article? Are you going to use it to sell a service or a product? If you show an image, think utility. What is the purpose of the image? Be strategic about anything and everything that ends up on your site.
Look and Feel – People know the difference between good and bad design. Your website is your first impression machine. If your website looks home made, your business looks home made too.
The design should be professional, the fonts should be consistent, the presentation must be top notch, it must work well with mobile devices. Headers and footers should stay the same no matter where the user is on your site. If you keep switching fonts and pallets, the reader’s eyes will have trouble knowing where she should be looking. Important information will be lost and the user will most likely go elsewhere.
Too Much Crap – There are a million bells and whistles you can install on your website. Simple is your friend. The main thing your site should be doing is conveying your message or presenting your product. Don’t have a chat room if you are not using it. Don’t install a forum if your customers don’t use it. That cute picture of your dog, leave it off your site, unless it’s important for your story. Keep your site simple and focused on your story.
Too Little Security – EVERY website is vulnerable. Don’t think that just because you sell gourmet ice cream in small town USA that someone won’t hijack your site and use it to send spam or simply deface it for a “laugh”. Your site needs security and it needs to be updated regularly. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, keep it updated. Install SSL and run your website in https instead of http. Https makes your website more secure and it might actually improve your search results.
Lack of Updates – A site that gets no love from its owner will get no love from Google. Think about the sites you visit every day. You visit them because there is new stuff to see. As a small business owner, updating every day might not be possible. But every few days is a bare minimum. There are also scripts and services that will feed fresh content to your site, just make sure you shop around and find one that is reliable.
Copyrighted Pictures and Content – Ever received a letter in the mail threatening to sue because of a picture you have on your website? It’s not fun. Hunting down small site owners who “innocently” shared a copyrighted photo and then suing them for a few grand is how some people make their living. They might offer to let you settle for a few hundred dollars hoping that you will pay their ransom rather than go to federal court without a lawyer. Make sure you have permission to post every picture and every word on your site.
Broken Links and Outdated Content – As the years go by and you make updates to your site, some of the information will become dated. Remove it. The same goes for links to other sites. Go through and make sure every link on your site actually goes somewhere. Dead links can make Google look unfavorably upon your site. In addition, they frustrate your visitors to no end.
Lack of Mobile Support – Make sure your site looks and works well on smartphones and tablets. Many sites are difficult to see on a mobile device – don’t let this happen to yours. Have a responsive design that detects and resizes for smaller devices – or hire a professional to make your site mobile friendly.
The above list doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good start. The more time and effort you put into your site to make sure it is safe and easy to use the more your visitors will enjoy it.
Savvy web designer with a twist – Monika Beck with Webene – San Diego, CA.
Monika Beck is passionate about website design, web programming, ecommerce, and building businesses. She is a serial entrepreneur and the cofounder of Success Harbor a website dedicated to help entrepreneurs succeed. Success Harbor interviews successful entrepreneurs and publishes topics relevant to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Monika started Success Harbor with her cofounder in order to ease the life of entrepreneurs through original research, tips and unique content. Monika is also cofounder of Webene, a website design and online marketing firm based in San Diego, CA. Webene specializes in mobile-friendly responsive websites built on the WordPress platform. Monika loves playing classical music on the piano.