The biggest mistake new WordPress Website owners make is to think of their site as just “a site” instead of an Internet business. A good Website is actually an extension of your physical business. Just like a brick and mortar business, it needs someone there to sell products, provide customer service, remain dynamic and stay competitive within its industry.
Website Visitors want a pleasant experience when shopping for products or services, they don’t want to have to work to get the information they are looking for. A WordPress based website shouldn’t be an ode to eye-candy because it looks cool to the Website Owner, it should be designed for the end user – it’s target market (which, in some cases, could be eye-candy). The WordPress based site needs to be simple to understand and easy to get around in; sadly this is an area where many website owners fail.
Below are six website design disasters and simple steps that you can take to avoid them.
1) Sloppy, poorly written Copy on your Website Pages and in your Blog Posts
Despite what you may have read in the latest free e-Book, you can’t just place any words on a page and convince your customers into spending fistfuls of cash on your products or services. One of the primary reasons people use the internet is to find information, and not just the same information they find on every other site; think of the smaller news sites where everyone seems to have a different headline for the same article – how long do you stay on those sites?
Solution: Your content should be unique, interesting and error-free. If you don’t have a lot of time to create your own content find a qualified copywriter, rework Emails that you wrote to answer client questions or even go back and edit outdated copy to make it fresh again. Never use free content from a mass produced websites (especially article catalogs) because there are probably a lot of other places online where you can find the exact same words. You’ve got to give your visitors and the search engines something special, something unique that they can’t find anywhere else. Otherwise, Your visitors will find it somewhere else and the engines may decide your site doesn’t deserve to rank well.
2) Not Considering Search Engine Optimization when adding copy to your site
We all know that SEO is important, but sometimes we fail to take full advantage of what it has to offer and neglect certain aspects like “Keyword Targeting/Optimization”. As important as Keyword Targeting is to web designers as a free promotional tool it’s often forgotten in favor of Analytics, Pay-Per-Click and link popularity development.
You may have the product, membership program, newsletter or other information that Your potential visitors are looking for. But if they can’t find you in the top 10-20 organic Search Engine Ranking Positions, you can’t even begin to use a sales pitch to convert a potential customer or client.
Solution: When creating content for your website focus on your concept, be relevant, be consistant and be patient. Don’t fall for any tricks suggested by “Marketing Gurus” and don’t attempt to trick the search engines. Write your copy for your visitors and the engines will come.
Use all the basics optimization techniques when posting your content; include Image Alt-Tags, Headings, Meta Page Titles and Meta Page Descriptions (Meta Keywords are more or less obsolete). Create quality copy that is easy to read and clearly explains your concept and it will appeal to both the search engines and your target market.
Don’t try and stuff keywords into your copy, instead write naturally for your site visitors, not like you are trying to make a 2,000-word essay out of a 500-word paper because you slacked off over the weekend and Your English Professor will fail you Monday morning if it’s note done.
3) Outdated Information, Broken Links, and “Under Construction”
There is nothing more frustrating than sifting through out-dated websites when you’re in search of current information. Or clicking on a link that you hope leads to the answer to your question, only to discover that “This Page Cannot Be Displayed” or that the domain name is for sale.
Only slightly less annoying are messages informing you that the page is currently under construction or is “Coming Soon”. If it’s not here yet, don’t waste your visitor’s time leading them down dead ends.
Solution: Schedule at least a day a month for scouring your website in search of outdated information and broken links. Not only will this improve your visitor’s experience yet again it will make the search engines happy. Cleaning up broken links (WordPress users can use the broken link plugin to quickly locate them) and updating out-dated content demonstrates to the search engines that your site is relevant.
Never use “Under Construction” messages on a page or post in your website, instead announce to your visitors any upcoming changes or additions to your website as they are completed and launched. Or optionally, post a simple announcement telling visitors they can request to be notified as the launch date approaches (similar to pre-orders on a book). Visitors will be glad to know about your website additions without getting their hopes up and clicking a link only to be told it isn’t available yet.
4) Hard to Find Contact Information
It’s hard to understand why any website would fail to make it easy for visitors to get in touch with the people who run it.
Offering this simple bit of information will:
- Encourage people to ask for permission before using your content &/or graphics on their own sites.
- Make it easier for people to contact you for promotional reasons. For example, someone may desire to interview you, initiate a contract or simply make an important business contact that you may need in the future.
- Provide people with ways to reach you and your company while they are offline. You can provide them with ways to reach you by telephone, snail mail or possibly even to stop and tour your facilities.
Solution: Add a “Contact Us” page, place your contact information in the footer of your site or add an email link and phone number in the header of your site. On Your contact pages be certain to include pertinent email addresses, phone numbers, names, mailing addresses and (if necessary) driving directions. Adding GEO codes and a Map, if your business has a Brick & Mortar address, will also help to improve search engine rankings.
5) Not Changing the Color or Style of a Visited Link
It may not seem like such a big deal but it’s one that has been bugging website traffic for many years. You can take that on the authority of Dr. Jakob Nielsen, the man who’s been called the “guru of Web page usability” by the New York Times.
The purpose of changing link colors is to give your site visitors an idea of where they’ve already been and where they have yet to go. This is especially important if you have a large site with new pages being added to it often.
Solution: When designing your WordPress based website ensure that Your Theme’s CSS uses different styles for visited links and optionally for active links. You don’t need to use a specific color or style like blue or underlined; the link just needs to be different from regular text and after it’s been clicked it should change so the user knows they have visited the page or post already.
6) Failing to emphasize your Unique Selling Point and appeal to your target market
This is tied closely to another WordPress Design mistake; not offering any information about your company’s products, services, employees, etc. Your Website is your online marketing presence it should provide detailed information about all of your products and services. Many website owners have difficulty looking outside of the box and
Many website owners have difficulty looking outside of the box (their own personal preferences) and as a result, fail to provide pertinent information to potential clients or customers. Not everyone thinks the same and limiting the type of information about what you offer, based on your own preferences, will result in a loss of sales. In the same way, not focusing on your concept and limiting your content to it (for example: selling your book) can result in lost sales. Offending your target market by posting political or social issues that do not represent them as a whole means you either don’t know your market or you need to rethink your focus.
Solution: Whether it means you need to sit down and better identify your target market, or maybe try to discover new ways to market to them, try to look at your website with eyes not clouded by personal preferences, constant interruptions, or other distractions. Take the time to look at your website as a customer would, as a tool. Ask yourself, “If I was a customer, why would I be here?” As you come across issues make note of them and correct and correct them.
The best way to avoid design disasters is to pay attention to your website and evaluate its design and performance frequently.
The best solution is to consider the Golden Rule; if it would give you a headache, make you shake your head in frustration, cause you to get up and walk away from the computer or any other negative reactions – just say no! Exercise a little restraint or better yet, if you’re not a professional, consider hiring one. Because, when it comes to customer satisfaction, an experienced WordPress Development Specialist can be the difference between making or breaking your business.