Your website is your largest marketing asset. Minor mistakes and inconsistent maintenance can add up over time. You have mere seconds to capture your user’s attention before they navigate away from your site.
Avoid these common pitfalls to prevent potential customers from falling through the cracks:
- Bad Domain – More often than not, entrepreneurs choose a name that doesn’t pass the Domain Test. No one can remember exactly how it’s spelled or even what it is at all. This is usually the result of a confusing spelling, too general of a name, or domain hacks that are too convoluted. If you’re a startup looking to correct a bad domain with an entirely new name, check out Morgan’s guide to buying domains for startups, and mine that goes into detail about the negotiation process.
- Slow Load Time – If your page takes more than a second or two to load, you may want to consider purchasing faster or more reliable hosting. Placing too many large images on a single page could also prove problematic for mobile users to load quickly.
- Deterring User Experience – It’s difficult to narrow down the laundry list of possible distractions that users experience on awful websites, but here’s a list of major ones:
- Font is difficult to read. Google recommends a size 16 font as your baseline. Anything smaller is going to make it difficult for older users to read. You may also want to consider using standard font types like Open Sans or Sans Serif.
- Site colors are off. I personally use Paletton to design a site’s color scheme.
- Distracting animations, jarring videos, or obnoxiously loud sounds are automatically queued on page load. When a user is startled by a noise or video it breaks their concentration and experience on your site. Let them choose to watch your video or listen to your music. There’s nothing worse than having 10 tabs open and trying to figure out which one of them is playing a booming video in a quiet meeting room.
- Numerous spelling and grammatical errors. Would you purchase a service or product from someone that didn’t take the time to spell check their most important marketing piece?
- Outdated information and dead links. When there’s copious broken links on a landing page or employees listed on the website that are no longer with the company, it starts to raise red flags to the user.
- Disproportionate Copy to Graphics Ratio – Each site will be different, but you should find your own happy medium between text and pictures. Some sites only have pictures, but this route doesn’t make sense when you’re selling options on blue chip stocks. Users would rather read about the service or what you have to offer rather than looking at a page full of pictures of people shaking hands. Oppositely, if you’re running a stock photo site, don’t write about how great the site is on the landing page, show them. Regardless of the company, if you meet your users with a straight wall of text, they’re not going to try and decipher its meaning. Find the right balance of copy to graphics for your industry.
- No Newsletter Signup – Building a newsletter database can prove invaluable after a year or two of aggregating user information. Users are specifically using this touchpoint to hear from you again. Presence in a user’s inbox is one of the most important touchpoints a marketer can have.
- Missing Contact Information – If you’re a business that wants people to call or email, put your email address and phone number in the top right corner of your website and in its footer. If you’d just like to give customers a potential outlet to contact you, make sure the contact link is placed in a visible place. If you’re a local brick-and-mortar business trying to tap into a community market, there’s no more certain death sentence than hiding your address and phone number from your prospects.
- Failure to Track Metrics – Google Analytics is free and is the industry benchmark for gauging quantity and quality of user traffic. Don’t wait until you need these statistics for research or to prove to advertisers that your site attracts attention. Set it up from the start of your business and check in on it from time-to-time to make sure your sales funnel is working. And if you didn’t design your site with a sales funnel in mind, you have a much bigger problem.
- No Call to Action – The pinnacle of your sales funnel is your CTA. Don’t let users fall by the wayside by making them guess what their next step is to engage in your services or buy your product. The classic example of a direct CTA is a clearly visible red button that reads “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”
- No Clear Business Description – Can a user determine what your business does within a second of landing on your homepage? They won’t be around for long if they can’t. Try testing your landing pages and your homepage on your friends and family to see if they can determine what you’re selling as soon as the page loads. If you’re utilizing Google Analytics, a high bounce rate is a strong indicator that this could be a problem.
- Not Mobile Friendly – It’s no secret that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers…” Optimizing your site for mobile users is no longer an option. If you’re unsure about just how unfriendly your site is to mobile devices, try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Making sure your website is appropriately optimized is just one tactic in the long term strategy for growth. While a website can be your largest calling card, lead-engine, and marketing tool, remember that you still need to sell, advertise and market outside your site. There’s a high correlation between customers deciding to buy from a company and their engagement across multiple touchpoints: newsletter, social media, blog commenting, conferences, customer service exchange, etc. Don’t rely on single channel passive marketing to produce all of your business, but recognize how powerful of a tool your website can be in your marketing stack.