Do you have a website? Are you getting the return on investment (ROI) that you’d hoped for? No? Here are six common website mistakes – and how to fix them – to increase how hard your website works for you.
Website Mistake #1: Location is hard to find
Potential clients visiting your site quickly want to know: “Where is this person located? Am I in their service area?”
They don’t want to spend time hunting for that information. And neither do they want to fall in love with the solutions you offer, only to discover that you live 200 miles away! So make sure it’s easy to find on your site — the most common places to find that information are:
- Above the menu or in the header (your contact information and address)
- In the first section of your site on the home page
- Part of the footer
- On the ‘about’ page
- On the contact page
It’s often worth putting your location in multiple places, as people tend to skim when reading online. That way, if they miss it in one spot they’ll see it in another.
Website Mistake #2: Being ‘clever’ instead of clear
There is a ‘rule’ of website design: “Don’t make them think.” I know, that sounds a bit insulting doesn’t it! You want clients who can think – they make good clients.
But have you ever visited a website that made you tear your hair out because nothing made sense and you couldn’t quickly find the answers you were looking for? Giving a website visitor a bad user experience often results in them leaving faster than you can say “Squirrel!”
Ignoring common ‘trigger words’ in favor of clever puns can make your website less user friendly, which can turn people off. And laying out your pages in novel ways can get people frustrated — what they’re looking for isn’t where they expect it!
Common trigger words to use in your menus, for example:
Other common website conventions include:
- Menu at the top or left
- Logo at the top left or middle
- Click the logo to go to the home page
- Buttons look like buttons
- Text links are a consistent style which is different from the normal text (different color or underlined etc.)
Make sure to follow these conventions and prospective clients will thank you by signing up with you!
Website Mistake #3: Not making a plan for your website
Just like training a dog, building a website is easier and more successful if you have a plan. Not only do you need a clear idea of what you’d like your site to look like, but you also (and more importantly!) need to know how you’d like it to function — what’s it going to DO for you?
You need to look at it from both your perspective, and your visitors’ view point.
To consider things from visitors’ viewpoint, ask yourself:
- Who is going to be visiting my site? (Who is your target client? Families? Sports competitors?)
- What information are they going to be looking for? (‘Can you fix my problem?’ ‘Do you work with people like me?’ ‘Can I trust you?’)
Have a plan for how you’re going to interest those clients and answer their questions quickly and easily.
Then you need to determine what you’d like the main goal of your site (and each given page) to be. Do you want people to contact you? Sign up for a class? Join your mailing list?
For each page of your website should ask yourself:
- How do people get here?
- What do I want them to do next?
The answers to these questions will dictate how you structure your site, and how you present information on it. For example, there’s not a lot of point in sending everyone to your blog page if what you’d like is for them to sign up for an in-person class. You can find out more about creating a marketing plan here.
Website Mistake #4: Not making the next step clear
As a follow-on from mistake 3, mistake 4 is a really common one. We want to be helpful! We want to give people options… and in the process we confuse the heck out of them. And confused people, like confused dogs, will get frustrated, then leave.
What am I talking about? Not having clear directions for the next step. Each of the pages on your site needs a clear signpost – a Call To Action (CTA) – for the visitor to know what to do next.
Confusion comes from two big errors:
- Not using clear language on your buttons or links
- Having too many options on one page
Make sure you use explicit instructions on your CTA’s — studies show that’s what performs best. Tell them directly: ‘Click here for X’, ‘Sign Up to get Y’, ‘Contact Me.’
The second problem is easily solved if you’ve thought about the function of each page. What do you want visitors to do next? Only give them a couple of options, don’t risk overwhelming them. The more options, the harder the decision-making process, the more likely the visitor is to bail without clicking anything at all.
Website Mistake #5: Thinking your website is all about you
I know, I know. Of course your website is about you! Who else would it be about? Well this is one of those situations where a bit of ‘role play’ is required: your website needs to be ‘all about’ the visitor.
What do I mean by that…?
Although the information you’re providing is your information, the job of the copy (text) is to explain how and why that information is important to the reader. Always be ask yourself “how can I make this relevant – what’s in it for them?”
An easy way to do this is to phrase your writing in the second person… that is, terms of ‘You’ not ‘I’. Instead of “I hold classes every Tuesday and Thursday evening…” write “You can attend classes on a Tuesday or Thursday evening…”.
Instead of “in this class I teach…” write “in this class you and your dog will learn…”
About pages can be a bit tricky. Although the information is directly about you, the reason why it’s important to the client needs to be included. One way to do that is by simply adding ‘this means’ or ‘so you can’ and following up with a reason why something benefits them.
“I’ve been a professional dog trainer for 10 years and trained hundreds of dogs and their people. This means you can be sure I’ve got the experience to quickly and easily help you and your dog become a great team.”
(You can find more easy copywriting and suggestions in our previous posts, “Write This, Not That: 5 Simple Writing Swaps for Blog Posts that Convert” and “Sell Like a Pro: How to Write Copy About Your Services”.)
Website Mistake #6: Not having a professional looking website
This shouldn’t really need saying but I’m going to say it anyway. Your website reflects you and your business. The impressions your website gives a visitor will lead your visitors to make assumptions about the other things your business does as well — a poorly built or designed website will lead potential clients to believe your business may be poorly run as well.
You can avoid this by:
- Keeping the information up to date
- Using good quality photos that are web friendly
- Paying careful attention to colors and the design (and avoiding gimmicky effects!)
- Proofreading for spelling and grammar errors
- Making your text concise and easy to read
- Ensuring the navigation is clear and easy to use
By fixing these common website mistakes your website will be able to do exactly what you wanted it to do: work harder for your business so you can reap the benefits of your investment.