Good web design is a moving target. Tastes change, technology changes, and if you’re not actively monitoring and maintaining your website, it can be easy to sink into the murky waters of obsolescence.
Most businesses interested in attracting new customers have a website these days, but many haven’t updated or changed it since it first went live. If that’s true for you, then it’s likely your website has a number of issues that may be hindering it from performing at its full capability.
These issues can be technological or aesthetic in nature, but either way, they need to be addressed. But first, you need to know how to spot them! Here are 8 things you should address as soon as possible if they are true of your website:
1. Aesthetically Unpleasing Design
Thankfully, sites like this are getting harder and harder to find as good-looking website templates become cheaper and more widely available, but I still stumble across one every now and again. I’m talking about sites that were designed prior to the advent of modern web design standards that make good-looking layouts possible (or by people who haven’t bothered to learn those standards). Remember back in the early days of the internet when websites were mostly large blocks of text with gaudily colored hyperlinks? Some small businesses are still rocking those sites today, and you really don’t want to be that guy.
2. No Call To Action
One of the biggest assumptions that business owners make about their websites is that getting traffic to the site is the only thing they need to worry about. They think that people who land on the site must already be looking to buy, and worry only about increasing the number of visitors they rake in every day. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Internet visitors are fickle beasts and browsers by nature. Without a call to action placed prominently on the home page, it’s likely that most visitors to your site “bounce” right off of it and onto other destinations without purchasing a thing. With a good call to action, you can convert these visitors into purchases with a much higher rate of success.
3. Ignoring SEO
It doesn’t matter if your site is beautiful and efficient at visitor conversion if no one can find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of designing a site so that search engines can find it easily and are more likely to rank it higher in their listings. Without good SEO, you’re just shouting into the void.
4. Bad Writing
If you are not a good writer, you should probably outsource your website’s copy-writing to a professional. Poor writing is a huge turn-off and one of the major reasons people will leave your site quickly. Whatever it is you are trying to do with your site, you need to seem like an authority in that area, and authorities do not make grammar mistakes.
In addition, make sure you break up your copy into reasonably sized chunks. Visitors have short attention spans and will leave rather than slog through giant blocks of text. Get your message across as succinctly as possible.
5. Auto-Playing Music and Video
This one is really specific, but I keep running into it, so here it is. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you have auto-playing video or background music on your site. It is incredibly intrusive. Imagine one of your visitors is browsing at work, or in a library when suddenly they land on your site and the sound starts blaring. First, they are going to leave right away. Second, they will have to apologize to those around them. Third, they will never, ever come back to visit your site again. Let them decide they want to watch your video, don’t decide for them.
6. Forgetting About Mobile Viewers
Like it or not, we live in a world of a thousand screens. If you design your site to work only on a desktop-sized screen, you are ignoring the experience of an ever-increasing number of people who browse the internet on their mobile devices. Your site needs to look good no matter if it’s viewed on a tiny phone screen or on a giant 27-inch monitor.
7. Fancy Over Fast
It’s good to want your site to look great, but it is also possible to go too far. Websites need to look good, but they also need to load quickly and be easy to use. Lots of animation, decorative but hard-to-read fonts, and other distracting elements will slow down your page-load speed and make it harder for people to accomplish what they want if they actually stick around to wait for the full page to load. Make sure your sites are efficient as well as good-looking.
8. Forgetting To Install Analytics
If you don’t have analytics installed for your site, there is no way for you to know if your site is performing as well as it should be. Google has a robust and free solution, so there’s no excuse. The saying goes that the first step in improving something is measuring it, so get measuring! You’ll find that it’s fun, once you get into it.