It’s no secret that your company’s website is the ultimate foray into your brand and the services you offer. It should work to tell the story of your business and how you can help potential clients and customers serve a need. However, designing a website that can drive sales and awareness can be hard. And if you don’t adhere to a number of best practices when it comes to website design, you could end up wasting thousands of dollars.
After having designed hundreds of websites, we’ve come up with the 7 biggest mistakes business tend to make during the website design process and solutions on how to fix them. Read on….
Prior to starting or redesigning your website, make sure you choose the right person or agency to help you create your new online presence. The key to developing a successful website is combining a responsive, professional design with fast loading, reliable programming and web hosting. Some designers are great at laying out a really pretty site; however, they may not have a true understanding of how the site needs to function once it is laid out.
Look for a web design company that focuses not only on design, but also on how well your new website will attract traffic and convert that traffic into customers for your business. They should have no problem communicating the importance of quality hosting and optimized code to make your website load in less than 1 second per page. Hire someone who has a thorough understanding of design, functionality and upkeep on the site in order to maximize your investment. If they don’t understand basic online content strategy or SEO, they might not be the best fit for your project.
Even in 2019, we're still seeing this with new clients. They hired a company to develop a new website for them and signed an agreement for $25,000+ for the project. We're talking a simple website project with basic functionality and a limited amount of content. This is known as a basic “brochure” site, and unless you’re spending thousands for custom imagery, these kinds of inflated fees are insane!
Be aware that there is a wide variation on how much a new website can cost. Before cutting a check, do some research on sites that you like and get a number of quotes from reputable vendors. Depending on functionality, website design can start at $1,500 and go up to $100,000+. Be realistic with your budget and wary of service providers that seem too good to be true.
It’s also very important to get a true understanding of what your website project fee includes. Be wary of designers that do not offer any guidance on images, content or optimizing the site for SEO (at least from a basic best practices perspective). Design proposals that require you to “provide all the content” and don’t have mention of optimization should be reconsidered, in our opinion.
If you plan on having your website show up in any search rankings, having a content strategy is key. Many web designers do a great job of laying the content out, but the actual content and content flow of the site get overlooked. Even if you’re looking to save money, don’t think you can write all your website copy on your own. Original content that includes search-friendly keywords, strong headlines, specific calls to action and unique graphics or videos are all essential when creating the “meat” of your website.
If you want to have a successful web presence over the long term, you'll also want to publish fresh, valuable content to your website each month. This will require an ongoing content strategy consisting of industry-related topics to cover via a variety of content pieces.
While an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign can be time consuming and daunting, there are some basic SEO elements that all websites should have. Work with your designer to ensure that, at a minimum, your site includes unique title tags on each page, meta description tags, heading tags, interlinking, unique key words, Google Analytics and the correct SEO plug-in for the platform on which your website is built.
Do your research and understand these SEO best practices. If your website has the correctly optimized framework in place for your content, all future content you publish on your website will have an instant advantage over any competitors that are lacking the basic SEO framework in their pages.
According to a number of recent studies, more than 40% of ALL web traffic is coming from mobile devices. The bottom line is that if your website is not optimized for mobile, your company going to be WAY behind the eight ball when it comes to online marketing. We already know that Google has a mobile version of their search results and that they have long ago added mobile optimization as a key ranking factor. The truth is, if you have a new website developed for your business that isn't fully responsive, then you have a huge problem on your hands.
Do you know what users do who try to visit your website on their smartphone when it isn't optimized for mobile devices? They leave as fast as possible. You've probably seen these websites on your smartphone. The content of the page is extremely small and the menu is nowhere to be found. You have to pinch and squeeze the page and search around to find what you're looking for. After about 10 seconds of this, you get frustrated and leave. Now imagine this is your website and you are a potential customer.
In today's age, it's critical that your website is fully responsive. That means that your website recognizes when a visitor is using a mobile device and serves that user a version of the website that is easier to navigate and presents your content in the best possible way for their screen.
If website content is a fire, then social media is the fuel that will keep the fire going. Social media and your website should consistently work together to promote your business. Determine what social media sites will work best to drive interest in your organization and then create a strategy so that both communication channels tell your brand’s story. Keep in mind that if you are going to promote your social media pages on your website, they need to be updated regularly.
Social media channels are a great way to receive and promote positive reviews from happy customers. They are also a way for you to engage potential customers, answering questions and assisting with customer service issues. If you don't have a social media content strategy in place for posting on a regular basis, you're doing your business a great disservice. As with all services, do your due diligence. Get multiple quotes and look for a social media-marketing agency with a strong track record of successful results.
So you’ve launched your website and it looks great. You’re done…right? Wrong! Launching or redesigning a site is just the beginning to have a fruitful online presence. Keeping the site updated with relevant content, updates on what is happening with your business and useful information is essential to maximizing your investment and keeping customers engaged with your brand. Work with your marketing team to have a plan in place on how and when you’ll be keeping your site relevant.
Remember that your website should always be a “work in progress.” You should be focused on posting fresh, valuable content and always adding something new to your website. You should always be connecting with other business owners, engaging in cross-promotion campaigns. If you work to grow your website, week by week and year by year, you'll develop a gold mine for your business.
As a business owner managing your own website, if you remember these key fundamentals, you can't go wrong. First, you want to always get multiple quotes and do your own due diligence when it comes to hiring a web design company. Make sure that the company you hire includes solutions for high-speed hosting, performance, security, backups and an easy-to-use content-management system.
Remember that your online business is always a work in progress. Create strategies for SEO, content publishing and social media posting that take you on the path to reaching your goals. Also be thinking of what information would be helpful for your existing and potential customers.
We hope this article will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes we've seen our clients make in the past. We wish you the best in your future endeavors. Never stop working!