At the end of the year, I always spend time looking through my marketing materials and make changes for the coming year. If you’ve created a site months, or even years ago, its time for you to take a second look.
When you look at your own site, you look at it through your eyes. You know what you do. You know what you offer. But does your client? When they enter your site, can they navigate around and get exactly what they are looking for?
Take a look at these 10 common design mistakes, and take a second look at your own site.
1. The Home Page Website. Do you look at your home page as your front door? Think again. If people are finding your site through search engines and referrals, they are just as likely to enter on one of your other pages. Is every page welcoming?
2. Poor design. Maybe you’ve fallen in love with a particular look. A ton of photographers love the Flash presentation sites. But is it the most beneficial? Do you stand out from your competition? Or do you look like all the rest, with only a color and name change? It’s good to have your visitors say WOW.
3. Poor programming. Some designers work part time or until they find their next job. They concentrate on graphics, paying little attention to coding and the detail. Make sure your designer is well rounded in all parts of designing a site.
4. Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke mentality. You’ve had a generic site for years. It’s not bringing in business, but it’s not costing you much either. Why should you fix it? If you’ve ever had this thought (and I meet a ton of people like this) maybe its time to find out what a website should truly be doing for you.
5. Testing. Do you have a site that is informative to your customers, or just provides them with the information you think they need. The only way to make it better is to keep testing, and respond to what works.
6. Provide everything – including the kitchen sink. Remember, you have two sets of clients: your prospects and your existing clientele. Prospects care about seeing the work you’ve done for other clients; existing clients want to see their own images online. If you don’t have a shopping cart function, you’re missing a ton of sales. People buy things when they find them – even if its 2:30 on a Saturday morning. Be there when they’re ready, not when you are.
7. All the bells and whistles. Who is your target audience? If your clients are high tech, you may be okay adding the latest programming. But if you’re targeting people that look at your site from a home-based computer, don’t assume they have the latest technology. If a site asks to upgrade or download something to make it function, they won’t stay – or be back.
8. Too many chefs. You have one company for marketing, one for web design, one for hosting, one for programming – and they all have a different idea. In some cases it can take months for one idea to make it through several different contacts. Take charge and make decisions. Action is more important than preciseness when it comes to being online.
9. Using the latest tools. Are you using social sites, profiles, forums and blogs to interconnect your website? If not, you’re missing one of the most important parts to being online.
10. Create a strategy. Talk with an expert and really build for your future. Understand what your website could be doing for you, and set up goals and deadlines for taking action. Make 2009 the year you succeed online.