There are eight common website mistakes that can turn otherwise effective sites into underperforming headaches. These mistakes are easy for first-time website owners to make, but are also easy to correct and avoid.
1. Overlooking mobile browsing
According to BGR, mobile devices outpaced desktops as the preferred tool for browsing the internet in 2016 — a trend that continues to grow.
If you ever used a mobile phone to visit a website that wasn’t mobile-friendly, you know what a pain it can be to find the information you’re looking for. So, make sure your website is responsive. A responsive website will automatically configure itself to fit whatever screen size someone uses to view it.
WordPress.com offers responsive themes that will convert your site to a mobile-friendly layout.
2. Forgetting to replace default theme content
When you set up a website, make sure not to leave any of the default pictures or text within your pages.
Many website themes come with preconfigured filler content on their pages so that you can see what they’ll look like once you add your own content. For example, the default content on your theme’s About page might say, “Enter information about you or your company here.” If there are any places on your website where you either forgot to replace the default text or haven’t gotten around to it, it can make you look careless.
3. Letting the blog die
“Dead blogs” are commonly found across small business sites. Many new site owners will excitedly write five blog posts once their sites launch, but then become preoccupied with other things and stop writing new content.
Three years later when someone visits one of these sites, they wonder what happened to the blog. Is the business still around? Why did they stop writing content?
If you have a blog, make it a goal to produce at least one blog post per month about topics relevant to your business. If you have a “dead blog,” and can’t realistically produce new content on a regular basis, you might be better off removing the blog from your website (unless your old posts are generating a lot of site traffic).
4. Overcrowding the homepage
You want to tell your visitors and fans about yourself and your business on the homepage. But have you ever visited a website where looking at the homepage felt like like reading a novel?
There are plenty of other places on your website (or blog) where you can elaborate on who you are, why you’re different, and the benefits of your products and services. Use your homepage as an entry point into a relationship, not as a full autobiography that will overwhelm visitors.
5. Hiding important information deep within the site
If your website visitors have to dig deep into your pages to find important information, they’re going to get frustrated and leave.
What are your hours of operation? Is a certain product in-stock? What is your store address and phone number? Make a list of the most important and essential information that your site visitors need to know, and provide that information in the upfront of your site. Make sure it’s easily accessible, instead of burying it three pages deep.
6. Using bad stock photography or grainy images
“Hey, it’s the guy wearing a hardhat! I saw the same photo on your competitors’ websites, too.”
Stock photography does have a place, but the better option is using high-quality, original photos that tell a unique story. Use pictures that showcase actual examples of your work and real people (not stock models) that work with you. If you’re a local business, name and image recognition can pay off when someone walks into your store and sees the people and products that you feature online.
That being said, there’s a caveat to using original photos. Grainy pictures that are taken on low-quality cameras, or images that are resized improperly won’t fare any better than tired stock photos. If you opt to use original photos, make sure they’re the highest-quality that you can make them.
7. Using illegible fonts
“I would really like to give you my business, but unfortunately, I can’t read your website.” Prospective customers won’t tell you this outright — they’ll just be thinking it as they open your competitor’s website. Using fonts that are too small or colors that are too light to read are surprisingly common mistakes.
Want to make sure your fonts are readable to everyone, everywhere on your site? For starters, pick a good website theme that makes text easy to read. Before you start promoting your finished site, have your friends and family members proofread it across multiple devices (desktop, mobile, and tablet). Take their feedback to heart and change your font sizes and colors accordingly.
8. Following the leader instead of standing out
What’s the textual equivalent of stock photography? Bland, boring content. “We’re different because we pride ourselves on our customer service.” Doesn’t your competition also pride themselves on their customer service?
Instead of copying others or trying to follow the leader, become the leader by being yourself. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but establishing your brand voice will help you stand out from the crowd.
By avoiding these eight common website mistakes, you can ensure that your website looks and performs at its best, while serving as a strong promotional tool for years to come.
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