7 Website Mistakes that Businesses are STILL making in 2013

Earnie Emu One of the benefits (or curses!) of being a web developer is that you get asked to give your opinion on other people’s websites. Some people are asking because they are really asking “do you agree my website looks amazing?”, others are asking “my website is rubbish, where do I start to make it better?“.

When using other business services or even when I’ve been asked to give feedback, I encounter a range of website mistakes. Most people use the web these days, so business owners should know better. So this article combines them all into mistakes that I’m still spotting even in 2013!

1. No Website (still!)

Yep, I’m not even kidding! So many businesses still do not have a website. I’ve noticed that it tends to be businesses that are

A) not making a great deal of money or
B) or the business (or business owner) is no-technical (e.g. painters, decorators, builders, etc).

Don’t get me wrong, having a website developed can be very expensive. However, even a basic 2-3 web page can be very cheap with a little research.

2. It’s not clear what you do

There are some business websites that I visit, that even with 10-20 seconds of looking at the page, I have no idea what they do! You want visitors to know within 2-3 seconds what your business is, without scrolling down the page.

Unless a visitor knows that your website is relevant to them, they will leave. This can be achieved using a combination of example images, clear branding, a logo that relates to your business, a smart tagline explaining your category of one and introductory paragraphs.

3. Your website hasn’t been updated in YEARS

If your website hasn’t been updated in a while, visitors will wonder if you’re still in business or it will sabotage any claims you might make about being current, modern, contemporary, organised and fresh.

Evidence of your website not being updated could include:

  • Old dates in the copyright footer (how to have an up-to-date footer date with WordPress)
  • Details of awards that are only from 3+ years ago.
  • Photos showing things that have changed substantially
  • References to long-gone politicians and celebrities
  • A blog where the most recent article was 1+ years ago.
  • A very dated design

These are all pretty easy to fix, with the exception of a redesign. If your website looks dated, I suspect you’re losing a certain amount of business. So ensuring your website looks relatively current is worthwhile.

4. No testimonials

Testimonials offer something called social proof, which essentially offers evidence from other people saying how good your products and services are.

A website visitor will be highly suspicious of anything you say on your website (they are assuming you’ll say anything to make a sale). Testimonials provide a way to show what other people think of you, which is generally more trusted. That’s why the world of online reviews has become such a big deal in the last 3 years.

Example Testimonial

Most business websites will have:

  • No testimonials at all
  • A single page of old testimonials
  • Testimonials that have no photos or website links, that completely made up!

You need to have high quality testimonials that are spread throughout your website, with photos, links to the person’s website and their business details.

If you use WordPress, then we’ve just launched a new Testimonial plugin for WordPress that’s designed for business owners who are not technical.

5. No buttons to share a page on social media…

Social Media Share Count Buttons

Frankly, if you don’t have social media sharing buttons on your website, you’re completely bonkers!

The social media sharing buttons make it as easy as possible to share your article, as all sharing can be done within 1-2 clicks! Why wouldn’t you want this? You get more exposure, for free!

6. Where’s the personality?

The old saying goes “people buy from people”. Having photos of your business team on your website injects personality. You’ll be surprised just how many people will check out the About page to be nosey!

A business that’s great with team photos is Rackspace. You’ll see lots of photos of their team throughout the website. They set a great example!

7. You’re not capturing any leads…

And finally, lead capture. Debatably the most important part of your website. By capturing the details of visitors (usually a name and email address), you can continue the conversation with them.

The idea is that you can share lots of value, maybe a special offer or two, and that they’ll eventually become your customers. Without any method to capture vistor details, then you’re wasting an opportunity to get some business further down the line.

To get them on your list, offer a great little bribe, such as a free ebook download. They should not need to make a purchase to get value from your freebie. It should be completely free.

In Summary

So, to conclude… have a website that makes it clear what you do, is updated regularly, shares credible testimonials throughout the site, with social media sharing buttons, photos of your team, and a way to opt-in to your list to allow you to continue the conversation with them.

We’re not perfect, we could do with a little more effort on #6, but hey… it’s a start!

What item do you know you should fix?

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Written by Dan Harrison

Dan Harrison is the lead developer and director of WP Doctors Ltd, a web development agency specialising in writing bespoke tools for WordPress-based websites that save time, hassle and money. You can follow Dan on Twitter here: @DanJHarrison and WP Doctors here: @wpdoctors.

2 Comments

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  1. Linda Rumbold February 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    All very good points Dan, and it is amazing how many businesses still don’t have a website at all. Even if you’re not expecting or planning to make (m)any sales directly through a website people will want to check out your website for credibility and to see if you know what you’re talking about, whatever your business is.

    • Dan Harrison February 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Thanks Linda. Yeah, it’s bonkers how businesses feel about spending any money on getting customers. It’s almost as if they’re wanting to extract every penny they can from the business.

      It’s only something I’ve noticed since joining EC though.