- April 23, 2015
Thriving business? Check. Marketing Plan? Check. Website? Uhhh.
Websites are not ZZ plants – you can quickly and easily kill them with even the best intentions. If your business has committed any of these site-killing offenses, it is not too late to salvage your online identity.
Fail #1: Death by Committee
To some, group work is a godsend. To others, it is pure torture. While they have their place in the corporate world, designing a website using a committee will surely kill your website. Why? As Smashing Magazine describes, design by committee ultimately leads to compromise, which leads to bland, boring, disjointed designs.
“Design is subjective. The way we respond to a design can be influenced by culture, gender, age, childhood experience and even physical conditions (such as color blindness). What one person considers great design could be hated by another. This is why it is so important that design decisions be informed by user testing rather than personal experience. Unfortunately, this approach is rarely taken when a committee is involved in design decisions.”
Which leads to…
Fail #2: Death by Self-Centeredness
Want your website to die a quick death? Design it based on what appeals to you rather than your users. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like blue, or if you want to see lots of animated graphic elements. What matters is what the user wants.
Web design may be best done by a third-party, knowledgeable web development professional, like Cube Creative Design. Why? It gives your business that outside, neutral look into your business and helps your business reach users in the best way possible. Trust your web development professional, don’t reduce them to a “pixel pusher” by micro-managing them. As Paul Boag suggests:
"If you want to get the maximum return on your Web team, present it with problems, not solutions. For example, if you’re targeting your website at teenage girls, and the designer goes for corporate blue, suggest that your audience might not respond well to that color. Do not tell him or her to change it to pink. This way, the designer has the freedom to find a solution that may even be better than your choice. You allow your designer to solve the problem you have presented."
Once your site is up, dedicate specific resources toward moving your site forward. This could be through periodic content updates or social media interactions.
Fail #3: Death by Perspective
Nothing will kill a website quite like tossing it to a group of folks with different end goals. Many businesses hand off their websites to either their IT department or marketing department. IT folks tend to think in systems and coding, and marketing folks tend to think of websites as a second-hand outlet for print campaigns. As Jeffrey Zeldman put it:
“No matter how critical the web experience may be to the organization’s mission, the people who design and build those mission-critical sites work in divisions that have nothing to do with the web, and report to leaders whose expertise is unrelated to web design and development.”
Instead of pitting two completely different brain chemistries against one another, trust your website management to a single web team. A web management team combines both content strategy and basic web strategy, such as search engine optimization and mobile-friendly design standards.
Fail #4: Death by Time
If you have a contact page on your site and you don’t respond to website contact requests in a timely manner, your site will surely die. One of the main purposes of a website is to generate leads. If folks are trying to hire your business and you don’t respond to them within a business day or two, those folks are going to seek services elsewhere.
A great way to avoid losing potential customers is to appoint a specific person or team to responding to contact requests. Give them a standard window of time in which they must respond to all customer requests, such as 24 hours or 2 business days. Also, be sure to test your contact page frequently. Technical issues could be killing your sales leads and you don’t even realize it.
Fail #5: Death by Content
A sure-fire way to kill your website is through poor content choices: lack of content, too much content, lack of quality, lack of updates and lack of activity. Your website should have pertinent information that is useful to visitors and potential customers. That content should be proofread for spelling and grammar. That content should be updated when necessary. Last, content should not overwhelm users. Adding content nobody will ever read is a great way to kill your website. In the words of newspaper greats: KISS. Keep It Simple, Stud (OK I changed it a bit to be nicer).
Keep user experience in mind. It is much easier to click through archived content and skim text on a screen than it is to download PDFs from 1997 to see if specific information is available in the file. You may get the graphic look you want from using text embedded in images, but for folks with sight impairments, screen reading devices may have trouble deciphering those graphics into usable text. A knowledgeable web developer will help you steer away from these content blunders like Blackbeard through the NC coastline.
Fail #6: Death by Absence
Nothing will kill your business website like not having a business website. As AMI Advertising Agency put it:
“Today people surf the web. This is just a fact. The Internet is no longer a luxury; it is used daily by millions and millions of Americans. They are searching for your help right now and if you don’t have a place on the web where they can find you, then they won’t."
Two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and nearly all of those smartphone-toting Americans use their phones to go online. Nearly 84% of American households have a computer, and nearly 75% of households have Internet access. Those folks expect to Google your business and find something.
Luckily website death isn’t permanent. Your business can not only rebound from failure, it can grow and thrive with the help of an experienced web professional. Contact us today to get started on your website renaissance.