Got the Web Woes?

If your website is up, and that’s the best you can say about it, no doubt you’ve got the “web woes”.

Web woes are what happens when your website is under-performing…. or not performing at all. Unfortunately this situation happens far too often.

Many business owners don’t do their due diligence in selecting a web developer. They see a pretty site….nice colors, maybe lots of flash and some cool music …and decide: “Wow! This is what we want.” Some hire designers to develop websites only to discover the end result isn’t what they expected. Not surprising cause web developers and web designers are not necessarily one and the same.

Some of the best developers I know are just that — professionals who develop or build sites. They do the coding and all the back end work, make sure the navigation is intuitive and that the site works across multiple platforms and browsers. And some of the worst sites I’ve seen were done by graphic designers who decided to become developers. Armed with minimal knowledge of what goes into a workable website, the end result is pretty much useless other than as an online brochure.

Fortunately, websites that don’t work can be fixed. Yes, it’s not fun to have to redo a site you just paid someone to build. But that’s one of the downsides of being an entrepreneur. You’re going to make mistakes. Especially if you’re trying to save money and work with the lowest bidder. Or write your own copy even if you’re not much of a copywriter. Or if you don’t know the right questions to ask upfront when you’re hiring “professionals”.

So let’s look at some fixes for the site that isn’t working. What needs to be done to turn your website into the profitable marketing tool it was meant to be?

1. Can a visitor to your site easily understand what you’re selling or offering? Or are the benefits hidden in a lot of overblown marketing hype?

The Fix: Say what you do. No gibberish. If you offer the most complete selection of scuba diving gear in the Midwest, say so. Clearly and simply. On the Home page as well as the Products page.

2. Is your copy reader-friendly? Or is it loaded with confusing technical jargon?

The Fix: Hire a copywriter who knows how to write for the web. Get rid of the formal, grammatically perfect copy. A website is a direct marketing tool. Think one-on-one. Write the way you talk when you’re having a conversation with a potential client.

3. Is the site navigation intuitive or is finding information a nightmare?

The Fix: Sit down with a few people who know little or nothing about what you offer. Have them go to your site and find a few specific items. You’ll know pretty quickly where there are problems. Get them fixed so that a visitor can get anything he needs with no more than three clicks.

4. Are fonts large enough to read without straining your eyes? Or is tiny type used to make the site look hip and cool? Or lots of reverse (white) type on a dark background.

The Fix: Don’t make it tough for people to read your copy. As it is, you have no control over how people’s monitors are set. So stick with Web-friendly fonts in sizes that people can read. And keep in mind that reverse type is generally not easy to read on screens. Use it sparingly!

5. Are there blinking lights and moving objects that have no particular relevance to what you do?

The Fix: Unless you’re an artist, musician or designer who uses Flash to highlight your work, Trash the Flash! It’s distracting and annoying…especially on a PDA or cell phone where downloading might be slow.

6. Is your contact info easily found and on every page? Emails are great but not when you’re in a hurry and hungry.

The Fix: Simple. Put your phone number on every page – in the header or footer works. Bold-faced and near the top of the page is even better. And if you have instant messaging, put that on too. Make it easy for your customers to reach you.

7. Do pages come up quickly or is there a lag time while the site loads? Few things are more annoying online than waiting for a site to load.

The Fix: Make the images smaller and lower resolution. If you can’t do it, a designer or developer can. Plus, a developer can check to see how your site comes up on all of the different platforms using all of the various browsers – in case (say it isn’t so) this was never done when your site was first launched.

8. Does your site come up quickly in search? Or are you on page 4 while all your competitors are in the top ten?

The Fix: Get your site optimized for search engines. This could be as simple as some rewrites to add more keywords and phrases to your copy. Or adding page titles. Or subheads in boldface. Or, depending on how your site was initially designed, might involve a full redesign. If you have an older site that was built using frames, or keywords that are hidden as graphics, or key search terms way down at the bottom of the page – or no key search terms (yep, it happens!), you’ll need a redesign.

The good news is that bad websites can be fixed. And, if done right, web woes can be turned into web wonders!

Leave a Reply