4 Website Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business
I’m going to start off with this public service announcement for. Anyone who tells you ANY website online is better than no website online is just plain wrong.
That is right. If your business or organization isn’t thinking strategically about your website, you could be doing more harm than good.
In today’s digital world your website is often your first interaction with potential customers and at the very least how customers will follow-up to verify your legitimacy. The first impression you make, good or bad will set the expectation of every other interaction. Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, but unfortunately in rural business communities website are often an afterthought. This approach leads to sites that do not convert visitors to customers, perpetuating the idea that websites are not important for rural businesses and organizations. Let’s run through 4 ways that your website may be hurting the credibility of your business or organization.
Your Website Doesn’t Have a Clear Message
Often, when I kick off a website project with rural healthcare organizations or small businesses clients are very excited to jump straight into the website’s visual design. However, skipping straight to this stage of a project is skipping over one of the most important parts.
What is the message on your website? Do visitors know exactly who you are, what you do, and how professional you are immediately? Does the messaging and visuals work together to provide a clear consistent message? Has your business/organization even given any thought to what your online message should be or how to best convey it?
I regularly hear, we just want to let visitors know we are here and how to find us. I’m going to have to give a little tough love here. That answer is a cop out to avoid asking harder questions. How is your site going to convert visitors into customers and improve your bottom-line? If you aren’t ready to have those conversations save your money. Don’t spend your business’s resources or time until you are ready to invest in a site that will impact your business in a positive way.
Your Website Isn’t Responsive
The clearest message in the world won’t matter if no one can read your message on a mobile device. We have all been there – open a website on your phone, but everything is tiny and hard to read. Some users may perform the dreaded pinch-and-zoom, but most users will simply move on to a site that is easier to read.
Responsive website design has been around for a few years, and ignoring its importance is one of the quickest ways to turn visitors away from your site. Responsive websites are designed so the navigation, images and layout are fluid, adapting to viewing screen size. For example, a responsive menu stacks vertically on a mobile device screen hidden nicely underneath a hamburger icon. This allows menu items to be larger and easier to select and when not in use to be hidden.
How do you know if your site is responsive? Open your site up on your phone. Can you easily read it without having to perform the dreaded pinch and zoom? Can you easily read and select items in your navigation menu? If you can’t your site is not responsive and you are losing most of your visitors.
Your Website Is Not Optimized for Search Engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vast topic with layers of information, but these two simple tips will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to SEO.
One of the best SEO practices you can follow is having a responsively designed website. In 2015, Google shifted the formulas used to determine search results to rank non-responsive websites lower in search results. Do not confuse a mobile site and a responsive site. A mobile is better than nothing, but it does not get the preference in search results that a responsive site does.
Next, having strong content or information that people find relevant is another easy way to improve your website’s SEO. Adding relevant information to your site helps two-fold. Strong content related to your industry or customer on your website equals more searchable keywords for Google’s search algorithms to flag. This improves the chance that a keyword or phrase being search will match your website, in turn improving your search ranking. Additionally, the more up-to-date and useful information visitors find on your site, increases the chance they will visit again. These repeat visitors will also make your site more favored in Google’s search result.
Your Website Is Ugly and Unprofessional
Admittedly, as a designer, I can be a bit of snob when it comes to my opinions on the design of websites. However, the idea that ugly sites hurt your business isn’t just a biased opinion, there are statistics to back it up.
One study found that website users form an opinion of your website in .05 Seconds – the blink of an eye. On top of that, 94% of users make an impression of your business related to design. If those statistics aren’t enough to make you rethink the importance of good design on your site, consider this. A Stanford University study found that 75% of users admitted to making a judgment on a business’s credibility based on their website.
How do you know if your site is ugly? Take a look… do the colors hurt your eyes? Are the fonts easy to read? Do the images look professional? Is your messaging easy to read? Your best offense for making sure your website is making the best first impression is working with a web designer or developer that understand the importance of strong user-experience (UX) design.
Websites have the ability to improve your business or organization’s credibility, connect with customers, and add another layer to your story in an authentic way. However, pulling all those pieces together in a cohesive way takes some forethought, planning, and experience.