Setting up a new website is easy. That’s part of the reason so many sites out there look like garbage. With a few clicks of the mouse you can have a new site up and running in minutes. Then you can spend the next hour juggling themes and then another few hours installing all of the “must have” plugins. You could easily end up with a cluttered mess that no one visits unless by accident or to have a laugh.
It’s always the best to hire a professional designer to build and optimise your site, but they can be expensive. If you want to try it on your own, here are some things to avoid:
1. Lack Of Vision
Everything on your website should be there for a reason. They should all be connected by a central theme. The fonts should be consistent throughout your site. Headers and footers should stay the same no matter where the user is on your site. If you keep switching fonts and pallets, the reader’s eyes will have trouble knowing where it should be looking. Important information will be lost and the user will most likely go elsewhere.
2. Too Much Crap
There are a million bells and whistles you can install on your website. Ignore them. The main thing your site should be doing is conveying your message or presenting your product. Don’t have a chat room if you are not using it. Don’t install a forum if your customers don’t use it. That cute picture of your dog, leave it off your site, unless it’s important for your story. Keep your site simple and focused on your story.
3. Too Little Security
Every website on the Internet is vulnerable. Don’t think that just because you sell gourmet ice cream in small town USA that someone won’t hijack your site and use it to send spam or simply deface it for a “laugh”. Your site needs security and it needs to be updated regularly.
4. Lack Of Updates
A site that gets no love from its owner will get no love from Google. Think about the sites you visit every day. You visit them every day because they get updated every day. As a small business owner, updating every day might not be possible. But every few days is a bare minimum. There are also scripts and services that will feed fresh content to your site, just make sure you shop around and find one that is reliable.
5. Copyrighted Pictures
Ever received a letter in the mail threatening to sue because of a picture you have on your website? It’s not fun. Hunting down small site owners who “innocently” shared a copyrighted photo and then suing them for a few grand is how some people make their living. They might offer to let you settle for a few hundred dollars hoping that you will pay their ransom rather than go to federal court without a lawyer. Make sure you have permission to post every picture and every word on your site.
6. Broken Links & Outdated Content
As the years go by and you make updates to your site, some of the information will become dated. Remove it. The same goes for links to other sites. Go through and make sure every link on your site actually goes somewhere. Dead links can make Google look unfavourably upon your site and they frustrate your visitors to no end.
7. Lack Of Mobile Support
Make sure your site looks okay on tablets and small screens. Many sites are difficult to see on a mobile device – don’t let this happen to yours. Have a responsive design that detects and resizes for small devices – or hire a professional to make your site mobile friendly.
The above list doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good start. The more time and effort you put into your site to make sure it is safe and easy to use the more your visitors will enjoy it.