Gone are the days of needing a team of developers and designers just to get a website live. With content management systems such as Wix, WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace it is now possible for almost anyone to build their own website or to call themselves a website designer.
This brings with it problems though.
There is a lot more to creating a high converting website than just putting some content on a page and making it look pretty. I review so many small business websites that have huge problems, most likely costing them money & customers.
I get that as a small business owner you have many things to do and wear many hats. If building websites is not one of your skills perhaps consider outsourcing it to someone else. Yes, this is going to cost money but your time is also money. Once it is set up you will be able to manage it yourself. You don’t consider cutting your own hair do you? You go to a hairdresser even though it costs you money, because you get better results.
There are also some good options out there that allow you to build a site yourself. You will need to have some time to learn and that is why I’m here to help guide & educate you.
Your website is important to your business. It is often the first point of contact you have with a customer. It works around the clock showcasing your products and services.
Your website needs to do the following:
- Give a positive first impression
- Build trust & credibility
- Make a visitor comfortable in sharing their personal data or spending money
- Make Google happy so that it is returned in the search results
- Make it easy for a customer to find what they are looking for or to complete a task
- Look professional
- Work on devices of many different sizes
- Collect data so that you can identify any issues
- and so much more
Is a bad website better than no website at all?
Perhaps. It really depends on the purpose of your website. If you have a restaurant and your website has your opening hours, contact details, menu and great reviews I will most likely eat there even if the website isn’t great.
If you are selling a product, and don’t have a physical store – your website is your entire business. A bad website will reflect on you and could turn potential customers away. There are so many choices these days when it comes to buying products.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Imagine you are looking for a product to buy and land on a website for the first time intending to make a purchase.
- If the website looks like it has been cobbled together by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, do you pull out your credit card and trust that they will keep your private information secure?
- If you can’t find what you are looking for straight away, do you persist or go to another easier to use website?
- If the site isn’t easy to use on your mobile, do you wait until you get home and try again on a larger browser?
- If the site takes forever to load, do you sit and wait or do you go back the search results and select another website?
You paid for someone to build your website so you think you won’t have these problems?
Even if you had your website built for you, you still need to check if you are making any of these mistakes. Some of them are related to the content that you enter and not the fault of your web developer. Learn what needs to be fixed and seek help if you are not sure how to do it.
Unfortunately I also see some of these mistakes being made by web developers & designers. No one knows everything and this is especially true if you didn’t hire a company with dedicated designers, developers and digital strategy teams. I have been involved in building and testing websites for almost 20 years. I made many of these mistakes myself when starting out but I have learnt from them over time.
Top 10 Mistakes that could cost you money
I’m hoping that I can help you to identify and fix some of the common mistakes that I see. To avoid overwhelming you I have narrowed it down to just the Top 10 that:
- have an impact on converting website visitors to customers
- stop you from being able to identify if you have other issues
- stop you from attracting visitors
Mistake #1: No SSL certificate
If you sell products or services on your website or allow visitors to register accounts and login, you need to have an SSL certificate installed on your website.
What is an SSL certificate?
- An SSL certificate is a file installed on your web server that encrypts all the data that is sent between the browser and the server, decreasing the risk of information being stolen or changed by hackers.
Why do you need an SSL certificate?
- To protect data that you receive.
- To improve SEO – Google now uses it as a factor in its ranking.
- To let visitors know that your site can be trusted. Chrome browsers now warn users that your site is not secure if you allow entering of passwords or credit card data. Soon it will warn all users of any pages not secure.
How to tell if you have an SSL certificate installed?
- View your site, putting https in front of the name instead of http. If your site loads ok then you are using an SSL certificate.
Also check that
- A padlock symbol is displayed.
- Entering your site with just http automatically redirects to the https version.
Mistake #2: Website is not mobile friendly
It is essential in 2017 that your website is easy to use on all smartphones and does not require the user to zoom in to read the content. More and more people are using their smartphones to search for content on the web.
Most websites built in the last couple of years are most likely responsive. This means that they resize automatically when they are viewed on different sized devices.
How to check if you website is mobile friendly?
- You can test if your website is mobile friendly using Google’s tool: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
- I also suggest that you open your website on a mobile phone and try using it yourself. Make sure you can navigate to the different areas of your website, your font is large enough to read easily and your buttons are large enough to tap. I also sometimes see popups or banners stopping users from accessing elements on a mobile. That is why it is important to check.
Why do you need to make sure your site is mobile friendly?
- To improve SEO – Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor and if you site isn’t it will definitely be impacted.
- To increase conversions on your site by delivering the best possible experience to your potential customers. No one hangs around trying to use a site that provides a poor experience.
Mistake #3: Website is slow
Did you know that 47% of your visitors will expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% give up completely on a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Test the speed of your site using https://gtmetrix.com/
Make sure you register for a free account and then set the location to the city that is closest to where the majority of your website traffic comes from.
Google also considers website speed an important ranking factor and fast sites are going to be displayed ahead of slow sites.
Factors that can influence the performance of your website:
- Server Performance – Poor quality and cheap hosting is usually the culprit of poor server performance. You always get what you pay for.
- Server location – Ideally the servers hosting your website should be located as close as physically possible to where your visitors are. Eg. If most of your traffic comes from Australia a website hosted on servers in the USA will be slower.
- Large images – I see this one a lot. Large images (or lots of images) are going to take longer to load than smaller ones. Images need to be the correct file format, the correct physical dimensions, as well as compressed for display on the web.
- The code – The size and quality of the code/theme that runs your site can impact its performance.
Mistake #4: Home Page is not focused on the visitor
Visitors to your website care about how you or your products can help solve their problems. Too many businesses try to sell features instead of benefits or worse – have content that is all about them.
It should be clear to a user landing on your home page how your products or services are going to solve their problems.
Also think about what sets you apart and why someone should buy your products or service over the competition. Feature this on your home page.
Mistake #5: No legal policies
- what information you collect
- how it is used
- who can access it and
- how you protect it
If you transact online there will be further information that you must include, even if you use a third party provider for handling customer and payment details.
Terms & Conditions
Technically a Terms & Conditions page isn’t required and most people will never look at it – but it is a smart thing to include. It is an electronic contract that is legally binding between you and your website visitors. It may help you to protect yourself against claims made by website users against you or your business.
It generally includes some of the following elements:
- The state and country where you operate from in terms of the governing law
- Disclaimer limiting your liability
- Copyright & unauthorised use of content statement
- Refund, repair and replacement policies (If you sell goods or services)
- Warranties and guarantees (If you sell goods or services)
Note: Every country has different regulations when it comes to what policies must be available on your website. If you are unsure what is required in your country it would be best to seek legal advice.
Done for you legal policies
Ideally you should seek legal advice if you transact online, gather any personal data or deal with an audience under the age of 13. There are Terms & Conditions generators our there though, which will help you put together a basic Terms & Conditions page. In many cases this may be a perfectly acceptable option.
If you are operating from Australia consider purchasing a Website Legal Package from Legal123.
**This is an affiliate link.
Mistake #6: Google Analytics not properly setup or not enabled at all
“You can only improve what you measure”
Every website should have Google Analytics installed and configured correctly.
I have included this as a mistake even though it doesn’t impact your visitors. Without it you can not detect problems and improve.
Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google. Once configured on your website, it will allow you to find out the following:
- How many people are visiting your website
- What time of the day people are visiting
- What country your visitors are from
- What your most popular pages/products/blog posts are
- What mobile devices people are using to visit your site with
- What links visitors are clicking on your site
- Where your traffic is coming from and which are the biggest buyers (Google, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bing etc)
- What pages most people exit your site from
- and much more
Checking this information on a regular basis is key to getting a better understanding of your online users. It can help you identify & fix problem areas, allow you to focus on the social media platform that is the most successful for you and make decisions that are based on data.
If you are not sure how to set it up check out my Blog series on Google Analytics for Beginners.
Mistake #7: No basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is about optimising your website so that search engines like Google return your website in the results.
There are many simple things that can be done without any technical knowledge and yet so many sites don’t do them.
Google brings Free traffic to your website!
If you are interested in learning more, sign up for my 5 day SEO email challenge to learn some basic SEO techniques that you can implement yourself.
Mistake #8: Confusing to use
Did you know that on average, a user will spend only 3 seconds trying to figure out what your website is about and what action to take next.
Your content and products must be organised & categorised in a way that makes it easy for a visitor to find what they are looking for and provide a great user experience.
Make sure you understand your users, how they think, terms they use and what they are looking for. If you don’t, you might want to consider doing some usability testing and workshops with some of your ideal customers.
Your website must:
- present clear navigation so that a user can find what they are looking for
- not overwhelm a user and present too many choices
- provide consistent navigation throughout the site
- always make it clear where a user is on the site
- use language that your customers understand
Mistake #9: Newsletter Sign-Ups that pop-up immediately
You know the pop-ups that I’m talking about. The large annoying ones that appear as soon as you go to a website and you can’t see the content until you close it or enter your details. Sometimes you can’t even find the close button to get rid of it.
Google is now using this as one of its ranking factors and if you open a large pop-up on a mobile device your site may be penalised. (If you do this to meet a legal requirement such as verifying the visitors age that is fine)
Even if this was not a ranking factor for Google, I would suggest that IF you choose to launch a pop-up requesting that someone enter their details to join your list or you newsletter that you don’t do it straight away. The chances are they don’t know you at all and you are immediately asking for their name and email. Give them time to look at the page that they have landed on at least. You don’t go on a first date and immediately ask the person to move in with you.
Consider asking them sign up:
- after they have scrolled down a certain percentage of the page
- when they show intent to leave the page
- after a period of time
You also should be offering something of value in exchange for the email and make sure you explain what the user is going to get if they sign up and how they will benefit.
Mistake #10: No clear contact information
Every website should have a contact page, it should be called something along the lines of ‘Contact’ or ‘Contact Us’ and there should be a link to it from the main navigation and the footer.
Your Contact page should include all the ways that a potential customer can contact you.
- Phone Number (which should be a ‘click to call’ number. This means that a user can click on it from their phone to call it rather than having to enter it)
- Email address
- Address with a Google map or a PO Box
- A contact form that redirects to a confirmation page that lets the user know when they can expect to receive a response
If your business has a physical location, include your opening hours on this page too.
If you are a local business it doesn’t hurt to include your address on every page in the footer.
If your main contact method is by phone (a restaurant for example) make sure the phone number is in a prominent location on every page and is click to call.
*** It should also go without saying that you need to be checking your email regularly and responding in a timely fashion.
I hope that this has helped you determine if your website is making any of the most common mistakes that could be costing your business money.
There are many more that I haven’t included here.
- Further help with getting more conversions and sales from your website
- A quote to fix any of the above problems such as setting up and analysing your Google Analytics, enabling SSL or helping with your SEO
- To order a comprehensive written review that is tailored to your website