These days, your website can become your most valuable marketing asset. Whether your company is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, most everyone will research a company before giving it their hard earned money.The website is fast becoming the most popular first impression. If that impression is a bad one, your image will be flawed from the beginning of that relationship. That is, if you’re even given the opportunity.
Following are ten common mistakes that will tarnish your credibility. As it is said “The devil is in the details”.
|1.||No search engine preparation and registration.Without this, your potential customers have no way to find you on the Internet. You need to make certain your site contains the keywords and description that would likely produce your site within a search. It is also vital that you register your site with the major search engines so they will know you exist and index your site. Without this, someone cannot even find you if searching by your company name.|
|2.||Not utilizing the Real Estate. At this time, the Internet is divided almost equally between users with a resolution of 1024x768 (usually 20” monitors) and higher resolutions (larger than 20” monitors). If the design takes only the 20” monitors into account, there will be a large amount of “white space” on the right, making the site appear less than professional and not thought out.|
|3.||Forcing left to right scrolling. Conversely, if your design only considers 19” monitors, the visitor is forced to scroll from the left to the right. This not only distracts from the information being presented, but eventually the visitor will become tired or annoyed by having to scroll in an awkward direction and will leave the site for your competitor.|
|4.||Lacking a clearly defined message. You cannot effectively design marketing collateral without first defining your target audience. Without being able to clearly articulate whom you’re trying to attract, you’ll have a difficult time designing a site that reflects your message.|
Equally important is to realize that addressing too many audiences is as risky as not having any. Just as you cannot be everything to everyone, neither can a well designed website. Pick your target, and you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to gather the content.
Under construction pages. If your site is incomplete, it is best to leave the pages off than to publish them. The visitor is there for a reason and you are wasting their time when you offer pages without anything important to say. Even worse is when the page appears to be chronically under construction. I have seen sites where the copyright was years old and pages were still “under construction”. The chances of a potential customer returning to this page are slim.
|6.||Old content.Even the simplest “brochure site” should have the content changed occasionally. This is one of the biggest advantages of the Internet and should be taken advantage of. Things change quickly nowadays, and old content can be very obvious and embarrassing for your company. Without fresh content, your visitor has no reason to return, limiting your marketing opportunities.|
|7.||Formatting inconsistency. Not only does this appear unprofessional and give the impression that details have been overlooked, it can be very distracting to the visitor. Even to the point where they wonder if they are still within the same website or have been transferred somewhere else.|
|8.||Poor navigation.Your visitor should be able to tell where he is within your site at any given time or they will eventually get lost. There should always be a consistent navigational method throughout the site that allows the visitor to know exactly where he is and how he can get elsewhere. If you make it hard for your visitors to find their way around your site, they will find their way to your competitors’.|
|9.||Browser incompatibility. Although Microsoft might have the majority of the market share when it comes to browsers, you don’t want to deny access to your site by ignoring the other 50%. (Mozilla’s FireFox is steadily gaining on Microsoft’s territory. (See our statistics for more information.) Designing a site that ignores the other browsers is equal to ignoring 50% or more of your potential customer base.|
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Evans Wheeler is the principal of Inreason Media, a design firm specializing in corporate identity development and implementation.