What’s worse than shooting yourself in the foot? Well, probably very little. But what if you could avoid doing so?
That’s what this post is about. If you’ve been following this blog, you know we talk a lot about the importance of an effective web presence for your brand. In 2017, you CANNOT scale properly without investing in your online presence. Period. And we aim to help you with that.
There’s a lot of content out there that tells you what to do, but not so much about what not to do. Personally, I like the latter better.
Why? Because when you know what NOT to do, you have more freedom and flexibility to be creative and execute. Instead of someone telling me “this is how you bake a cake” and walk me through step-by-step, I’d rather you say “don’t do these things” and let me fiddle around with the rest. Guaranteed I’ll give Betty Crocker a run for her money.
That said, the internet and, more specifically, websites, can be tough to perfect. No one walks you through how to build an effective web presence- you literally buy a machine, log on to the World Wide Web, and proceed to do stuff. No worries, we’re here to help.
There’s a big difference between having a website, and having an effective that achieves brand goals and objectives. So here you are: 10 mistakes brands make with their websites. Be sure to avoid these blunders, and you’ll put yourself ahead of many of your competitors who haven’t read this article (HA!). Enjoy!
1. Lack of Purpose
The internet is a vast phenomenon that is constantly growing, both in size and depth. There is SO much content being published, so many brands growing, and so many websites being created. the brands that experience the most success are the ones who effectively attract and retain the attention of their audience.
A website is not just a dormant tool to check off your list because someone told you that you should have one. It is actually a powerful asset that can work miracles for brands. Every website should have a purpose: blogs desire readership, e-commerce sites want sales, and brands prefer engagement. If your audience is unable to decipher your purpose within a few seconds (literally), they’ll leave and likely not come back. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure that’s not our desired outcome.
Defining your brand’s purpose will set the tone for everything on your website. Every image, video, line of copy, etc., should seek to serve your purpose and send a message to your viewer. Defining this purpose is your first step towards an effective website.
2. Difficult to Navigate
Quiz time: say you’re taking a trip to Wal-Mart- would you like to walk in and find what you’re looking for right away? Or would you rather walk up and down the aisles aimlessly (or ask a Wal-Mart employee, which would probably result in you doing the same thing)? Unless you’re a weirdo like me, I’m assuming you’d take the former.
When it comes to finding what you’re looking for, there is no difference between brick-and-mortar stores and the World Wide Web. People are busy- they’d rather not waste time searching all over the place for what they need. Be sure to take this into account.
Once you’ve defined your website’s purpose, you’ll want to create easy-to-use navigation that makes it a no-brainer for your audience to find what they are looking for. Confusing your visitors, adding vague direction, adding too many options; these are all things that can annoy your visitors and cause them to leave your website. While you’re creating your site, be sure to make it easy to navigate by asking yourself: “is further direction needed to use my site? Or is it intuitive?” Do this and you will guarantee yourself a user-friendly site.
3. Forgetting Mobile-Friendliness
There are a myriad of reasons to make your website mobile-friendly. For starters, mobile usage surpassed desktop usage back in 2014. The trend keeps going in that direction, and it’s almost to the point that your main focus should be on offering a mobile-friendly experience.
So how do you make your website mobile-friendly? First, focus on testing screen-width. On mobile, there’s less screen real estate so you’ll want to be careful and avoid things such as ‘fixed positioning’. You’ll also want to test fonts, because on smaller screens, certain fonts are difficult to read. The size of the font is also important.
Start with these couple of things, and you’ll be well on your way to an optimized mobile experience for your visitors, which will lead to increased traffic and longer sessions.
4. Not Optimizing for Speed
Much like point #2 above: the only thing more annoying than not finding what you’re looking for, is knowing where it is but being unable to get it because of slow service.
I’m a fan of simple, easy-to-use websites. Part of that is because I believe too much “fluff” can hurt a user’s experience (UX), but it’s also because too many videos, too much multimedia, can really slow a website down. 47% of people- HALF!- expect a webpage to load fully in less than 2 seconds! If your page doesn’t load fast enough, it’s not going to discourage your visitors from finding what they looking for, but it will discourage them from letting you find it for them.
Be sure that when you (or your web developer) design your site, mobile-friendliness is high on the priority list. Your web traffic and conversion rates will thank you.
5. Not Optimizing for Search Engines
Optimizing your website for search engines is just as important as optimizing for mobile: 89% of customers begin their buying process by searching on a search engine! Can you really afford to miss out on that traffic?
Think about the last time you wanted to buy something; what did you do first? What about the last time you had a question about something? Or when you needed to find something’s location? OK, I think you get my point.
While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated, time-consuming art, it is well worth the investment. While other digital marketing tactics may yield faster results, nothing compares to SEO’s long-term sustainability and impressive return-on-investment. Make sure that when people are searching for your industry or product/service, you’re easy for them to find. They’ll reward you with their pockets!
6. Not Testing Multiple Browsers and Devices
Just like people use different cars to get around, or different devices to stalk Instagram, people use different browsers and devices to surf the Web. As mentioned earlier, people use all sorts of desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices to visit websites. Not only does this mean different brands and different softwares, but also different versions.
Someone visiting your site on an old version of Firefox browser won’t view it the same as someone using the newest version of Chrome. This means that you’ll need to test your site on difference browsers, operating systems (OS), and devices to ensure that all your visitors have a good experience.
Google Analytics is an incredible, insightful tool that can give you the specifics on your visiting audience. This includes a breakdown of devices and browsers they are using to visit your website. Use this data to make sure that your traffic doesn’t have to view messy pages that weren’t optimized for different browsing experiences. If not optimized, this is a sure way to anger your visitors and have them leave, never to come back again.
7. Not Linking to Social Media
Your website needs to be promoted, because what good is an awesome website if no one sees it? There’s no more powerful promotion tool on the planet than social media.
Your website should include direct links to your brand’s corresponding social media pages. That way, if your audience likes what they see, they can share your content with their network, follow you on social, or promote your content on personal pages. This goes back to making things easy and intuitive for your users: make it easy for them to connect your website with your social media presence, resulting in one, seamless online identity.
8. Inconsistent Fonts and Colors
One of the toughest battles businesses face is brand recognition. Nike, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and every other tech-conglomerate have mastered this battle. If you’re still a relatively small business, chances are that you haven’t.
One easy way to build brand recognition is to be consistent when it comes to your branding. Your website should have consistent fonts and the same brand colors throughout the site. Your logo should be strategically placed (don’t overdo it), your brand colors should accent the pages (but not distract from your messaging), and your fonts should be uniform and easy-to-read.
If you do these things, then each visitor you have will start to associate those fonts and colors with your brand; even if they don’t think about it consciously, the subliminal messaging will speak to their subconscious, and their concept of your brand will only strengthen each time they interact with you. Psychology is quite the phenomenon, isn’t it?!
Once you’ve established an unforgettable brand identity, be sure that you are consistent when creating and promoting your content if you want to drive brand recognition and awareness.
10. Not Having a Website at all!
This is THE single worst mistake of all: the biggest website mistake that brands make is NOT HAVING ONE!!! It’s 2017- not having a website is the equivalent of brand suicide. While my team has often heard me say that ‘a bad website is worse than no website’, they still know how passionate I am about the need to have one.
So what’s the solution? Invest in a GREAT website. Doing so has the potential to grow your business exponentially, and it will afford you opportunities you otherwise never would have seen.
In conclusion: if you don’t know where to start making a great website and building your brand’s web presence, start by avoiding these 10 mistakes. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to expanding your reach, building an audience, and growing your business.