2005 called, it wants its website design back.
- The Website Counter
These little widgets are so adorably antiquated, they belong in a museum. If you have one on your blog or company website, go and get rid of it now. I mean it. Leave this blog this second and go to your website and get rid of that counter. Come back when you’re done, I’ll wait.
First of all, people no longer need to know how many times your website has been visited in order to validate their decision to be there. That was a thing a long time ago, when websites were a curious novelty, and only very few people were online checking out what this “internet” or “world wide web” was all about. These days,no one is desperate to know a website’s number of hits; what they want is content. Second, hit counters are easily padded and faked. Third, they tell you, the person who owns the website, absolutely nothing relevant. It doesn’t tell you how many unique visitor you got that day and how many of them were new visitors and how many were returning visitors. It doesn’t tell you what your audience demographic is — are they mostly male or female? What percentage of your audience is the teenage demographic? Middle-age demographic? Are you reaching the audience or market you were aiming for? The website counter won’t give you answers to any of these questions. Get something like Google analytics for that. It’s free, and one of the most useful things you could ever add to your website.
- No clear purpose or call to action
Ten years ago, companies were putting up websites because they felt they should. They were right! But having a website that serves no useful purpose than telling everyone “Hey, look, Company X has a website!” is no longer acceptable these days, with every company and their cat with an online presence, a Twitter account and three Facebook pages. Just like your company, your website should have a real reason for existing. It should move people to
do your biddingaction, make them buy your products, sign up for special offers, read more of your great content.
- No integration with your social media accounts or social media sharing tools
Everything is social now — apps, websites, cats. If you have a Pinterest page or a Twitter account and they’re not visibly promoted on your website, you’re losing a great opportunity to connect with your customers. Think about it. Everyone buys stuff. Stuff a person buys is made by hundreds of different companies. That person can’t possibly remember to visit the website of each of these companies. Your customer won’t remember to drop by your awesome knitting supply webstore unless you remind them to. That means convincing them to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Where they will see your post about the new cat sweater knitting patterns which — guess what — they can buy on your website, and oh look, here’s the link. It’s also great if you could add handy buttons which will let your website visitor share your articles and pages to their own social media accounts.
- It looks awful or unreadable or takes too long to load on a mobile phone
More than 50% of website visits are done through a mobile device. That means, on average, how your website looks on a mobile phone or a tablet is how most of your visitors see your website. Most websites, unless optimized for mobile devices, will not look good on a small screen. The text will be too small to read, and the overall user experience will not be ideal. While load time on a desktop or laptop computer will be fine, a non-mobile-optimized website will take too long to load on a smartphone. All these problems will make you lose potential customers. There are two solutions to this: (1) make a mobile-friendly version of your site kick in if it’s viewed on a mobile device, and (2) use a responsive design for your website. However, I strongly believe responsive website design is currently the best means of making your site usable for your viewers.
- It’s not search engine-optimized
When people look for stuff online, almost half the time they begin by doing a search on a search engine, such as Google. You want search engines and their crawlerbots (the programs that go through the internet compiling website and webpage addresses) to think you’re awesome so they’ll put you high up on the list of search results for words that are relevant to your website (“keywords”). For example, if you do a Google search for “kittens of the apocalypse”, you’ll get a bunch of articles and podcasts with titles that are various permutations of the phrase “kittens of the apocalypse”. So if your website is about “kittens” and the “apocalypse”, you’ll want your website optimized to appear on that Google search result. A great many factors affect how high up that list your website will be found, but one of them is your website’s search engine optimization, a.k.a. “SEO”, a.k.a. “How much does Google like you?”
Trust me, you want Google to like you. If Google likes you, it will put you on the first page of search results (of the keyword relevant to your business or website of course). If Google really, really likes you, it will put your website on the very top of that page. You want to be on top of that page, because it means that people looking to buy kitten sweater knitting patterns or adamantium shuriken will easily find your website selling kitten sweater knitting patterns or indestructible sharp throwing things, respectively. More people finding you on Google means more visitors to the party. (By “the party” I mean “your website”. Unless your website is about a party you want to invite people to, in which case I mean “both”.)
I’ll be blogging about SEO here soon, but in the meantime, check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide.
A business website is like your Facebook profile photo — you don’t want it to make you look old. And unlike getting plastic surgery for yourself, no one will judge you for giving your website a facelift. I generally think people ought to do whatever they want to their faces so long as they hire professionals who know what they’re doing. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about websites. I totally judge badly-built websites, and if you’ve read that SEO starter guide, you know Google will too.