The website is the face of your business. It's the representation of what your business can offer to potential clients when they first discover it. Your website has to look good, function better, and provide all the necessary information that prospective clients need to make an informed – and positive – decision.
But building your own website can be a bit of a minefield. Often, newcomers to the arena are hitting and hoping as they put bits and pieces together. Throwing a Hail Mary while closing their eyes and crossing their fingers.
That might sound dramatic (and it is), but there are some simple rules to follow and some glaring errors to avoid when stepping out to build a website.
This blog will look at just a few of the common mistakes that are made when building a website, and hope to guide each dear reader away from them.
Planning? What does that mean?
Well, well, well, what do we have here? Is that a little someone running and jumping into website creation without having even the roughest of plans to follow? That's a disaster waiting to happen.
Before setting off on a website build, ask yourself what you want from it. Are your intentions for the website to be solely a portfolio offering whereby potential clients can view your work and contact you? Or do you want to run a whole store, selling items or services across the globe?
This matters, because depending on your answers, you'll need to make fairly major changes to the set-up of the website and the continued care you'll have to offer.
Whereas a portfolio site takes little management further down the line – so you might change the examples of your work from time to time, but probably little else – a serviceable website for an online business will take far more effort to keep ticking over.
What is your unique selling point? What is it that you are offering to clients that the competition cannot? What are the best ways to implement your goals via your website and how have the competition done it?
Make sure you have a path to follow prior to setting off on. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail!
What's in a (domain) name?
The domain name of your website is a strange feature. It's everything and nothing, simultaneously easy for clients to forget yet absolutely necessary for them to remember. When you pick a domain name that sticks, you're set. Yet when you pick a solid name it also becomes almost invisible. When a domain name is good, it will no longer stand out in a client's mind, no longer feel sound strange or different. Ideally, it will become familiar. That's how you know you've chosen well.
But such a seemingly simple thing isn't as easy as it looks.
There are not an infinite amount of domain names and many will have been taken up. You need to get as close to your pure business name as possible, but if your business is fairly mainstream and your business name common, finding the perfect domain name can be tricky.
Google the words, " Joe's Car Wash" and see what you find. The first three domain names that pop up on Google are extremely similar: joescarwash.net, joescarwashwichita.com, and soapyjoescarwash.com. When there is little to separate you and a competitor, you have to improvise.
And therein lies the problem – finding a domain name that is unique, memorable, and actually represents your business.
When picking a domain name you must try to let it speak to your audience. What would people search for, if they're hoping to find you?
Ignoring the non-traditional
Mobile is hardly the new kid on the block, but its importance in internet use is continuing to grow as cell phones, phablets, tablets and the rest become faster and more able to surf the net from your back pocket. There's a reason cell phones have gotten larger in the last few years, while everything else has shrunk.
Mobile internet now accounts for more than half of global internet use, with mobile in Asia and Africa being responsible for almost two-thirds of internet use. That is a hefty, hefty market and one that absolutely should not be forgotten when designing your website.
A website needs to be mobile responsive. While being simply mobile-friendly was enough a few years ago, potential clients now expect a seamless experience on their hand-held devices.
Mobile responsive websites look smoother offer an improved user experience. To trot out a well-worn fact of the internet age, most visitors will be on a website for an average of 10 – 20 seconds. That isn't long to make a good impression, so make sure you value mobile users with an easily navigable, fully functional site.
Not optimizing all that lovely content
The less glamorous but vitally important side of website creation is in optimizing its written content. You know, SEO. Search engine optimization for the uninitiated.
To briefly explain what can be quite an intricate topic, SEO is the practice of attempting to push a website up the search engine rankings and gain more traffic through the use of specifically chosen keywords and phrases. SEO acts like a beacon for your website, beckoning the search engine scraper toward it so it can be found by millions of others.
The metadata that enables SEO is worth its weight in gold in the internet age, as are people who know how to do it properly. While SEO can be learned but to become a master takes time, dedication, and patience.
Marketing professionals know a thing or two about SEO, so they are certainly worth your consideration when you build your own website. In fact, these guys are really good!
Without SEO, your website might flounder in the depths of the internet ocean, never to be found. That'd sure be a shame!
Forgetting about links
Unless your website is a simple portfolio, as was mentioned earlier, you're likely to be updating it regularly. Like, daily.
And while constant updating is a great way to keep the website fresh and attract more traffic, it does require more maintenance. An easily forgotten chore of website maintenance is keeping those backlinks working!
For a website visitor, there are few more irritating experiences than clicking on a promising link to be shown the 404.
On top of that, it looks unprofessional. It's the online equivalent of leaving dirty laundry scattered about your house while you're in the process of selling it. If you're inviting people in, you should really keep it tidy!
And that's just the beginning
This is only a brief selection of common mistakes made when people build their own websites but there are many more to mention.
If you put the visitor at the fore of your thinking and try to keep the website clean and easy to navigate then you can't go too far wrong.
But when in doubt, ask the professionals. They're always happy to hear from you!