Yesterday we talked about Twitter mistakes by startups.
If you read that article you probably noticed that all the mistakes were ones I’ve made in the past.
These posts about mistakes are usually like that. I’m trying to show you the mistakes I’ve made (and am still making) so you can learn from them and get to success faster. And if you are making any of these mistakes we’ll just keep it on the hush hush.
In this post we’re getting into websites. I’ve had a lot of iterations of the GBW Website over the last few years. I wouldn’t say that the websites have been bad or lacking in anyway. It was simply a progression to get to where it is now. And I’m sure that in a few months I’ll look back on the current site and cringe.
The most important point of this article, I think, is the need to change a common mindset when it comes to websites. The common thought is that websites, after a launch or re-launch, are done.
A website is never done. It’s a living thing and you should be looking to make improvements all the time. Keep a designer on standby so they can come in and make tweaks.
You’ll always learn new things as you see people interacting with your site. Make changes, see how things go and then make more changes if necessary.
So with that mindset let’s get into some website mistakes commonly made by startups.
1. Confusing Image
The first thing many people notice when they visit a website is the image.
Go to a website and see where your eye goes right away. There might be a photo or an illustration or some kind of image. There is something about visuals that activate our immediate attention.
Images are important, but you have to be really careful about the image you put on your website, especially on the homepage. It’s the very first impression new visitors have of your brand.
Is the photo of a young man smiling? That could be right, but it could also be confusing. What’s the man doing there on your site? Is he supposed to represent your target audience. Are new visitors supposed to be seeing someone like them?
Illustrations can sometimes work better than photos especially if they outline what your clients receive or if it shows some aspect of your product or service.
However, custom illustrations can be costly especially if you have to adjust it over time, which is likely. But illustrations can be exactly what you want. I’d suggest finding a designer or illustrator to have on your team. Have them create custom illustrations for the main pages (home, services, about, etc.) on your site.
Even with illustrations, though, you’ll have to avoid confusion.
The big thing you’re looking for is that people understand what your brand does or provides within a split second. Have a few people visit your site and ask them what their first impressions are.
If they’re confused or if they give you an answer that isn’t what you want then you’ll have to adjust.
2. Confusing Intro Phrase(s)
Most websites have some kind of phrase or tagline on the homepage or on any important page. These taglines are great because they can communicate what you provide to new visitors. It helps them to instantly know what they could get by hiring you.
But if the tagline is confusing then you’re going to lose the visitor. If they can’t tell what you do they’ll often navigate away from your site because it won’t be worth their precious time to dig around to figure out what you provide.
This type of copywriting can be tricky. You want to get to the heart of what you do and express it in just a few words. If you get too long in your description you’ll lose people. If you use industry words that your visitor won’t understand you’ll lose visitors.
Assess your business. Figure out what you really provide and find a few words that communicate that to your visitors.
A plumber might put on the homepage:
- Plumbing Services
Under that would be smaller font with words like:
- Fix leaks
- New piping systems
- New fixtures
Get to the heart and make it easy to understand. When your visitor knows what you do they’ll investigate further into your site.
3. Too Many Calls To Action
Figure out the most likely action that a person should take from each page on your site. Make that one action the most important call to action on the site. Make it stand out.
If you have more than one call to action given the same focus on any page you’ll confuse visitors.
From your homepage you’ll likely link to your services page. You’ll introduce your brand, what you do and give a little teaser about the service. Then you’ll link to the services page where there are details about your service. On that page you’ll link to your contact page.
Any other calls to action (blog, about, etc.) can be much smaller on the page. They can usually be links in the top header or in the footer area. If people are looking for those specific pages they can easily find them, but new visitors will see that they should go to the intended page.
In terms of size and how your call to action should stand out think of your main call to action as being 90% of the call to action space on your page with any other calls to action taking up the remaining 10%.
4. No Answers To The Most Common Questions
Are you getting contact form submissions with lots of questions or phone calls with people asking tons of questions?
This might be good for you if you like talking to people, but if you want to cut to the chase you can have your website take care of the common questions for you.
Your website is the ultimate salesperson. It can handle an infinite number of prospects and it can sell all day, every day. You can’t do that so put answers to common questions on your website.
Again, this is a living thing so over time when you see more questions popping up from prospects, put the answers on your site. You’ll save your time by not repeating yourself and your sales process will be more efficient and easier on you and your staff.
5. Too Expensive Right Away
The final mistake that can happen is launching a big, flashy website that costs a lot, but doesn’t really accomplish much more than a cheap template website. You can do a lot for a couple hundred bucks and some custom work by a designer.
Is it the ideal way to launch? No, but it’s cost effective and smart. You can use the cheap version to see how you visitors interact with your site and make changes as you go.
A custom website is the ultimate goal, but when you’re starting out you have no idea what will work so don’t spend a big amount of money on a custom site.
If you are going to invest in something related to your website then invest in page speed. Get a host that’s blazing fast. That will return more dividends even if your site isn’t perfect right away.
As you probably know, these are mistakes I’ve made in the past. Hopefully you can learn from them, but the biggest thing to take away from this article is that the content and design of your website is never finished. Don’t think of it that way. You’ll always learn something new about your business and your website. Continually make changes to your site to make it better. And make your site work for you to save time.
That’s the whole point anyway – making your business better and easier for you to run.