Developing a website should be a great experience: you get to bring your business or passion to life. To give your site’s visitors the best possible experience, avoid these five common mistakes:
You know how sometimes you get a whiff of staleness from something in the refrigerator, like from a gallon of milk? Afterward, will you eagerly return to that milk? Probably not. The same principal applies to your website: once people sense that your content isn’t changing, they’ll probably stop coming back.
The solution is to add genuinely new content to your site on a regular basis. There is always new information you can add: a special offer, a new feature, tips & tricks, a testimonial from a client, etc. I’ve heard the term “Heroin Content” used to describe content that has extreme appeal. Sites like YouTube and Google have it. What’s the heroin content that will keep your audience coming back?
To help determine your must-have content, try to answer these questions:
- What does my site visitor need to know that is time-sensitive or urgent?
- What questions can I answer in a unique or candid way?
- What about my product or service is controversial? For example, a pet photography website could refute the claim that pets aren’t worth spending money on.
What’s the icing on the cake? Websites with fresh content get crawled by search engines more often, which increases their rankings in search-engine results.
While stale content is off-putting, seeing too many words on a page is frustrating for visitors in a different way. Too much text makes it hard for eyes to find a focal point; the eyes don’t know what to focus on. Having too much material crammed onto one page means you need to reorganize your site. Try to spread the content across a greater number of small, focused pages.
Other elements can contribute to clutter, like widgets, flash animation, and fancy graphics. If you suspect you have too much going on, consider a more minimalist design, which is a 2010 web design trend. For more help, check out this Webs blog post on Usability: A Streamlined Experience.
You’ve heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and that’s definitely true for websites. Instead of only using words to describe what your business does, use pictures to show what you have to offer. Photos bring your site to life and help sell your products or services.
Photos also break up the text, which makes the site easier on the eyes, thereby enabling people to linger longer on the site.
A store located in a dark alley, with no name on the door, doesn’t really inspire confidence. In fact, most people would decide that it doesn’t look like a legitimate business and walk away. Strange as it sounds, websites go through a similar screening process.
Even if you conduct all of your business online, it’s important to include a phone number, and maybe a physical address as well, to reassure customers that your business is real. The Webs Locations App makes it easy to display your business on a map, along with other helpful information like turn-by-turn directions. Offering photos, testimonials, awards, blogs, and having a social media presence can also help prove the validity of your company.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, one thing customers want to see on a website is personality. This is good for entrepreneurs, because small businesses usually have an edge on large businesses when it comes to having an interesting history or back story. Try using your “About Us” section to tell your story and to explain what makes your company unique.
If appropriate, showcase your creativity on your website using photos, videos, or a blog. You could upload a video of you sculpting, or blog about your latest inspiration for an architectural design. “Small businesses can have more fun with their sites, more so than large corporations,” says Alice Bredin, president of Bredin Business Information.