By John Eberhard
This article will cover 9 pitfalls you can make when getting a new web site designed, and how to avoid them.
Not Mobile Friendly
Any new web site you get designed today should be mobile friendly. This is important for two reasons:
- Over half of your customers or prospects use a mobile phone to access the Internet, and you want the site to display properly and be readable and usable for them.
- In April 2015 Google made a change to their search algorithm to penalize sites that are not mobile friendly. That means if your site is not mobile friendly, Google will penalize you in its rankings.
There are two ways to make a site mobile friendly today: a) adaptive web design and b) responsive web design. Adaptive web design is where you create a separate mobile version of the site, usually with fewer pages than the regular version of the site. Responsive design is where you modify the site so it displays well on a mobile and is readable, and the elements on the page are moved around and shifted down the page so one has to scroll down the page to see them.
You can check here to see if your web site passes Google’s test:
Not Having an SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate (Secure Socket Layer) makes your site safer for users and makes them more confident in using the site. This is especially important now because Google is penalizing sites that don’t have one, and in July their Chrome browser will say “Not secure” in the address bar for any site that does not have one.
Not Personalized to Your Business
One mistake that businesses make today with web sites is to make a site that looks too generic, like any other site for a business of that kind. You see that often with health care practices for instance. The problem with this is that it doesn’t give any sense of the personality of the business, and basically it doesn’t give any reason for the prospect to select YOU rather than your competition. Most industries today have lots of competition, and it’s vital to find ways of setting yourself apart from the competition.
One of the best ways to personalize a web site to a particular business is to include lots of pictures of the business. In the case of a health care practice, include pictures of the doctor or doctors, the staff, the building from the outside, the lobby, etc. If it’s a manufacturing company, show pictures of the facility, work being done, and the principals and staff.
Too Few Pages
Ideally a web site should have anywhere from 12 to 40 pages, with each page talking about different aspects of the business or different services or products delivered. This is important for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, where the more content your site has, the more likely it will rank for various keywords related to your business.
So avoid the pitfall of having a small site of 4-6 pages. And definitely avoid having just one page, where your navigation buttons just push you down the page. That’s not good at all for search engine optimization.
Not Transferring SEO Data
If you have a web site now and that web site is getting traffic and is ranking well for various keywords, it is very important when getting a new web site, to transfer the search engine optimization (SEO) data to the new site. This is data that is stored in the invisible code of the site (called the “meta” data) that search engines see and use to decide how well to rank your site.
If you are getting traffic now, but this SEO data is not transferred to your new site, you could see your traffic fall off significantly after the new site is put up.
Contact Info Not Prominent
A web site should make it extremely easy for someone to contact you. Remember that people in general today are busy and in a hurry. No one has time to search through your site to try to figure out where your phone number and address are. Make it really easy to find them and put them on every single page. The best solution is to put your phone (big) and address in the header of the site, or at the top of the sidebar.
It’s also a good idea to have a small contact form right there in the sidebar of every single page.
No Identity Capture Devices
The vast majority of visitors to your web site will not contact you and will just leave, representing a waste of the resources spent getting them to your site.
You want to have what are called “identity capture devices,” meaning various offers and things on the site that will entice the person to give you their name, email address and other contact information.
This goes beyond simply having your phone and address prominently displayed. The concept behind an identity capture device is that you want to get people who are interested in your product or service and who are a qualified prospect, but who are not going to buy right now, to give you their information.
If you get their contact information, that gives you the opportunity to continue to communicate with them. You can send them a series of emails promoting your product or service using an autoresponder. You can put them on your email newsletter list. You can keep your company in their mind so that when they are ready to buy, maybe weeks or months down the road, they select you and not someone else.
Some common identity capture devices include:
- Email newsletter subscription
- Free report or white paper on topic related to your services or products
- Free software or utility download, or mobile app
- Free video, webinar or other content that you let them see only when they give you their email or other contact info
As the web matures and people get on more and more email lists, they become more and more reluctant to give out their email address. So you have to become more clever and innovative in developing identity capture devices.
Hiring an Inexperienced Designer
It is always possible to get someone to design your site for next to nothing. No doubt your wife’s sister’s cousin’s nephew knows how to do web design and is willing to do it for $200. Or maybe for free. And he designed a web site for that heavy metal rock band “Death Stalkers.” So he’s experienced, right?
The problem with this is that you get what you pay for. If it matters to you that your web site looks good and is a good representation of your business (and it should because a large majority of people go to a business web site before doing business with them), then you should not hire a brand new person to design your web site.
An inexperienced designer may design something that looks totally inappropriate for your industry (like a dentist site that looks like a heavy metal band). And he won’t know how to do things like create identity capture devices or how to design the navigational structure.
An experienced designer will know how to create a site that is appropriate for your business and will function properly, i.e. get site visitors to respond to you.
Not Having an Up to Date Design
Web design changes dramatically every couple years. It’s important to be up on new trends. For example, it was a hot trend a number of years ago to design a whole site in Flash. But then people realized that search engines couldn’t see any content for a Flash site, so that hurt the site in terms of rankings. And then iPhones can’t see Flash content.
Some of the up to date design elements you should consider today are:
- Photo slide shows on the home page. Many of these go across the whole width of the screen. Today you can even have different panels of the slide show have animation in them, or have a video in them.
- Smaller slide shows in the sidebar, with each panel linking to a page on your site for individual products or services.
- The whole site set up so it is the full width of the browser. This is becoming a very prominent trend.
- Large photos used as a background for the whole site. You can also make the main text box partially transparent, so that the background picture shows through somewhat. (It’s important to make it opaque enough so you can read the content. Reabability comes before being cutesy.)
- Video used as a background for the site.
- There are plenty of plugins for WordPress that allow you to display content from your social media accounts, such as recent Facebook or Twitter posts.
- You can hook up Google Calendars to display on your site, or create a forum.
Good luck with your new web site.