By Tom Germain, CEO, Coder Scoop Inc.
EVERY BUSINESSPERSON KNOWS that you absolutely need a website to inform new and old customers about your products and services, as well as how to reach you. It’s the first place most consumers and businesspeople will look for information about your company.
It is therefore crucial that this virtual brochure look professional and that its message be clear and concise. Recently, we did a bit of research and reviewed a large number of local business websites and we were quite shocked to find that the vast majority were very poorly designed. Some even bore malware.
In the interest of helping determine how your website could actually be damaging your business, let’s review the top ten problems you can easily identify.
1. It is not “responsive”. If your webpages, images and videos do not fit snugly in any smartphone or tablet and are not easily readable, it is guaranteed that whoever is using such a device will exit immediately. Since most Internet users use mobile, that means scads of lost opportunities!
2. It looks so 2000s! Styles change quite a bit over the years, and what was stylish in 2001—or even 2010 —can look dated in 2017, and maybe even laughable. The same is true in any advertising medium.
3. Bad grammar and spelling. Many visitors will quickly abandon a website where the copy is badly written. Let a professional copywriter do that for you, and for any translations, use a professional translator – Google Translate does not handle context very well! You disrespect your customers with poor writing.
4. It does not use SSL. No website should use the insecure http protocol. You should always use https, as the Google Chrome browser will soon warn visitors that a site is insecure and offer them the option of cancelling the visit before they see anything. It is a safe bet that most visitors will bail. Already, Chrome issues such warnings when any form is found on an insecure site. It’s also a safe bet that all major browsers will follow suit.
5. It is plastered with advertising. Google AdSense ads, banner ads, animated ads, promoted ads and pop-up ads crowd around your content, creating confusion and annoyance. Yes, many major websites contain a lot of ads, but they also have a well-known brand presence and reputation, while you likely do not. Ask yourself if the tiny bit of income these ads generate is worth the risk of losing potential clients.
6. Videos that automatically start running. Videos are a great way of delivering your story, but you should never force them upon your visitors. The only time this is acceptable is having a lightweight video that runs silently in the background. This is merely decorative, however. Also, always remember that data is expensive in Canada, so cell phone users do not take kindly to having it wasted!
7. It has big piles of keywords. Maybe you use a plugin that generates a jumble of keywords derived from your content, and serves no other purpose than to supposedly improve SEO (search engine optimization). Don’t do it! Not only does it annoy, but it may actually result in your webpage being penalized by the major search engines. Use tags instead, and only a few relevant ones at that.
8. It uses sliders or carousels. Those revolving slide shows may seem cool, but they’re not, Visitors will largely ignore them as it will be perceived the same as banner advertising, so only about 1% will actually click into them.
9. It has Flash animations. Adobe Flash is all but dead. Very few visitors will have the extension needed to execute Flash code, and cyber security experts are constantly advising users to ditch it. Your fancy little flash movie will appear as an ugly bare space to most and trigger annoying “get Flash” warnings.
10. It has background music. Nothing could be more icky or annoying. If your business is music, then let your visitors start the clips themselves.
The big message here is that it’s worth investing money in the design of your website by true professionals. Too many business owners make the mistake of doing it themselves or hiring the neighbourhood kid for a few bucks, then wonder why their webpage is not generating responses. Duh. You wouldn’t design your own logo, nor your print advertising, so why should you treat the most important marketing tool you have, your webpage, as if it was amateur hour?
Make your web page say, “We’re a big deal, we’re professionals and we’re trustworthy” instead of “We’re sloppy, we don’t care, take it or leave it”. Because visitors will leave, and where does that leave you?
Tom Germain is CEO of Coder Scoop Inc. and organizer of the monthly Online Gold Mine seminar in London, Toronto and elsewhere. Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org