A website is a must-have for any successful business today. Internet marketing is possibly the most important part of your marketing and sales plans.
People enjoy shopping online, and even if they can’t or don’t buy through a website, the ability to research and confirm information is a big part of their process. But just having a website is not enough. You need to have a quality, useful, engaging website that people can easily find, use, and understand.
There’s a handful of website mistakes that businesses make that can drive customers away. Let’s discuss ten of the most common website development mistakes that you can make, why they’re a problem, and how you can avoid them.
1. Building it Yourself
It’s easy to believe you can build a great website by yourself. There are a ton of free website builders out there, promising you beautiful themes, easy design and layout options, and tutorials that walk you through the process step-by-step.
There are several problems with free builders: generic (often irrelevant) themes shared with hundreds or thousands of other sites, sometimes they have ads, and the tutorials tell you what to do, but not how to design. It’s like giving a child a coloring book and crayons, and they color the carrot blue and the bunny green, only not as cute.
Looking at this site, it’s obvious it was not made by a web developer. There’s too much going on, no single navigation menu, and you can’t tell if they’re an actual business or simply a site to redirect you to other businesses.
2. Ignoring Different Screen Sizes
People view your website on a variety of devices. Laptops, desktops, tablets, and cell phones all have different screen sizes, and even among the same devices, they can be differently sized. If your website looks great on a laptop, but only shows half of it on a cell phone, you’re losing out on all the customers that use their phones to shop, research, and confirm information. And trust me, there’s a lot of them.
Your website developer may charge extra for mobile optimization, but it’s worth the cost. You’ll get more customers, and you’ll rank better in search results.
3. Adding too Many Features or “Things”
This is one of the easiest website mistakes to me. There are a lot of ways this can happen: attempting to make very clear and easy navigation, finding things that look “cool” that you want to show your customers, or even just trying to list every possible product or combination of products that your customers can buy from you.
It’s understandable that you want to make sure customers know everything you offer, and that you want it all to be easy to find. So make it easy to find. Categorize, limit the number of categories in your menu, use subcategories, and don’t forget a search function.
This site is a great example of too much (while also not enough). There’s a lengthy navigation down the left side, but no real information about who, what, or why the site was developed.
4. Ignoring the Site Once it’s Done
So, your site is done, with great navigation, optimized for mobile, and built by a developer who knew what they were doing. It’s even got a few blog posts. You’re done now, right? Wrong.
Think back ten years ago. Imagine a site you went to then, what it looked and sounded like. Now imagine that site today. Does it look the same? If it did look the same, would you want to buy from them? Of course not. It doesn’t take ten years for that to happen, though. A few weeks or months of no blog posts, or outdated information, or discontinued products that are still shown, can be enough.
Regularly look over your site, and keep things up to date. Find relevant topics to blog about, remove posts that aren’t relevant anymore, and change the design or layout if it’s looking outdated.
5. Unexpected Locations for Content
If you’re shopping for a pair of shoes, you expect to find them in the shoe section of the website, right? What if they were in the underwear section instead? Or housewares? That makes no sense. You might justify finding them with underwear in that they’re both items you wear on your body, but no matter how you twist your brain, there’s no logical way that shoes belong in housewares.
That’s how your customers feel if they can’t find the things they’re looking for in the places they would logically expect to find them. If a product fits multiple categories, place it in all of them, but make sure it’s in the most obvious, logical one, for sure.
6. Flawed Filters and Facets
You’re shopping for shoes again, and this time you want a pair of running shoes. Do you want to shop on the site that allows you to check a box that says you’re looking specifically for running shoes or the one that makes you click through 4,000 pages of slippers, high heels, flip-flops, boots, and running shoes? Filters and facets allow your users to drill down on what they’re looking for. It allows them to define sizes, colors, ratings, prices, and other specifics about the item they’re looking for.
With flawed filters and facets, users can’t do this. Obviously, you can’t create a filter and facet for every possible option, but you can consider the most common ones and create filters and facets for those.
Amazon knows what they’re doing when it comes to filters. The entire left side of the page is nothing but options, all of them common and relevant.
7. Wrong or Missing SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to getting your site seen. Without it, the only customers who will see your site are those you actually give the URL too. SEO is what gets your site ranked in the search results so that you’re not on page 50.
But it has to be the right SEO. It’s also about more than just keywords. Meta descriptions, claiming your Google business page, and more are involved in good, useful SEO. Errors in word choice are a website mistake that can leave your business on the back self on the internet. If you don’t understand SEO, outsource it to your web developer or someone else who does. You can learn on your own, and eventually take it over once you feel confident, but outsourcing it allows you to hit the ground running.
8. Calls to Action that Don’t Match Your Objectives
What is the purpose of your site? Do you want to make sales, create a newsletter mailing list, or encourage people to come to your physical location? If you don’t know, that’s the first step to creating your website: figuing out what its purpose is.
Once you know the purpose, you can explain it to your web designer or the person in charge of content development. Then you can create calls to action (CTA) that match your goals. Otherwise, you’ll end up with random CTAs that might be effective in terms of engaging people, but ineffective in terms of accomplishing your intentions.
9. Broken Links
We’ve all clicked a link that took us to a blank page that only said, “Page Not Found.” Or maybe it gives you a number: 404, 504, etc. Those are broken links, and if you think about what you do when you find one, you’ll know what your customers do when they find them. Broken links can happen for a variety of reasons: a change of domain name without redirecting old links, removing a page without redirecting its link to another relevant page, or others.
There are plenty of tools to check for broken links in your site, and you should use at least one of them on a regular basis to make sure that your site doesn’t have any broken links. If it does, take immediate action to eliminate them or redirect them to another relevant page on your site.
10. Failing to Link With Your Social Networks
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are all pretty common these days. Sometimes, they are one of the first stops a customer makes when deciding whether to buy from you. They want to see reviews, interactions with other clients, and testimonials about how you do business.
Without links on your site to social networks, you risk the user searching for you and finding someone else. They also might not follow you or like your page, and then you miss out on potential future sales, even if they buy today. Make it easy and simple.
Website development, whether it’s done beautifully or badly, can make or break your site. A website is a critical part of internet marketing, and the mistakes listed here are some of the most common and easily avoided. Don’t let them be the reason that customers leave your website for the competition.