Your business’ website is a bit like a profile photo on a dating website: an exceptionally good one can attract people who might have never looked your way otherwise, while a bad one will ensure that you’re all but ignored – even by people who might really, really like you if they met you in person.
The difference, however, between a profile picture and your company website is that you would never dream of posting a bad photo.
But bad websites are everywhere.
That’s because it’s relatively easy to look at a photo and know whether you look good in it or not: you know what most people tend to find conventionally attractive, and you’ve looked at yourself in the mirror enough to know when you’re looking your best.
By contrast, it’s a lot more difficult to hold a mirror up to your business, and it’s a lot more likely that your customers and clients are coming from a very different perspective than you are.
Business owners are often blinded by their own inside perspective on things. And that’s normal: as an insider in your industry, you’re going to see things differently, and you should see things differently. After all, that’s why your clients and customers turn to you when they need your services. But to get them to come to you in the first place, you need to make sure that your first impression is built around what they find attractive.
Today, the overwhelming majority of business decisions begin with a simple online search – which means that your website is more than likely the first thing prospective clients will see about you. It’s your business’ “profile picture” – and it needs to be attractive. Here are some of the most common ways that companies tend to squander one of their best business tools:
1. You’re writing for yourself or your competitors.
You’re an authority and a leader in your field, so it makes sense that you would want to demonstrate your expertise. But if your website is filled with technical jargon and industry-specific terminology, it’s probably not going to be very helpful to your clients. If I’m a customer who’s reading about your expertise and capabilities, I want to know what those things are going to do for me. Your website content should speak to your customers directly, using clear, simple language that’s oriented specifically around what you can offer them.
2. Your design isn’t user-friendly.
Sometimes, when I open a new website, I have trouble knowing where to click next. Either the navigation is unclear or poorly labeled, or there’s too much going on, or the layout is too confusing. Do you know what I do when I come across sites like these? I leave.
The average time it takes someone to decide whether to stay on a website or leave is around two seconds. That’s it. Your customers aren’t going to have the patience to navigate a confusing or complex website – nor should they have to. Good web design isn’t just aesthetically appealing: it’s clear and logical. The second your homepage loads, your visitors should know exactly where to click to get where they want to go.
And if your website isn’t optimized for mobile usage, you could be failing to reach an enormous chunk of your audience.
3. Your content isn’t SEO-optimized.
Yes, search engine optimization (SEO) still matters – a lot. Search engines like Google rely on complex algorithms to rank websites on their search pages, and if your site isn’t playing into these formulas, you’re losing out on countless opportunities to gain new clients and customers. And it’s not enough to have a strong search engine description and intelligent metadata: search engines are increasingly refining their algorithms to put a stronger focus on the quality of content. SEO is becoming less about keywords and more about context, which means that your website needs to be truly relevant to what your potential customers are looking for.
4. Your website is filled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, stylistic carelessness, and sloppy language.
For much of your audience, your website is the face of your business: think of it as your virtual storefront. If the sign in front of your shop says “We open” instead of “Come in, we’re open” – if your signage is scrawled in messy handwriting instead of professionally printed typography – what does that say about you as a business? That you’re careless? That you don’t take what you do seriously enough to do it right?
You might not be in the business of copywriting (like, ahem, yours truly), but that doesn’t mean potential clients won’t look at your sloppy copy as an indicator of how seriously you treat your actual work.
What other website mistakes send you running? Share your own insights in the comments!