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Common Website Problems

Whenever I meet someone at a networking event, the first thing I do before following up with them via email is to check out their website. This isn’t because I might find us some work if they don’t have one or it’s terrible, I do it because it’s a way of finding out a bit more about them. I might find some common ground to help generate more conversation between us. I might even realise that their service or product could be really beneficial to me or our work. When I have a look round all of these people’s websites though I tend to come across the same problems time and time again. Sometimes I mention them to the website owner, sometimes I decide it’s best not to, but here is the list so you can check your own website to make sure you haven’t got them too!

Website Not Secure

Usually these days when you got to a website it is secure. You can tell this because in the address bar in your web browser, next to the web address on the left is a little padlock icon. This means the website is secure. If it isn’t secure the padlock icon won’t be there and instead it will just say “Not Secure”. Now, this is a big no no these days.

Firstly, if you are collecting any kind of data on your website, for example details for a mailing list, your website needs to be secure to protect that person’s data. If it isn’t you could be in breach of GDPR. Now, I find it very hard to believe anyone wouldn’t have heard of GDPR by now, but if somehow you haven’t then follow the link above, but obviously finish reading this blog post first!

Secondly, if your website isn’t secure then Google will punish you. By this I mean your Google search rankings will be affected because Google are becoming hot on both security and accessibility. So, the websites that perform better in these areas will rank better in the Google results.

This is one of the common website problems that I always point out to people if I see it because as you have read, the implications of having an unsecure website could be quite great on the business. To make your website secure you need an SSL certificate. This is something your web developer or designer or web host should be able to help you out with very easily.

Text as Images

Now this links into what I said above about websites needing to perform well from an accessibility point of view. One of the common ways a website needs to be accessible is that it could be used by someone using a text reader. A text reader will read the website out to the website visitor. This becomes a problem though when people have lots of their headings not as actual text but as images. We see it far too often where their headings are in a beautiful script font over a picture of themselves smiling. We can see what the heading says but the text reader can’t because it isn’t text and can’t be read it out.

Also, if your headings are an image and not actual text then they won’t be seen by search engines either which again affects those all important Google rankings. Most of the time this issue comes about when someone has asked a designer to create their website who may have a really lovely eye for design but actually doesn’t understand how the web works. If you’re paying money to get a website done for you make sure the person is truly a web designer not just a graphic designer and that they truly have the skills and knowledge to do it!

Massive Header and Logo

I have been to far too many websites recently where virtually the whole of my screen is taken up by the header area of the website and the logo. This is usually because the logo is far too big. Now, I don’t want all websites to look the same, it’s nice to have some variation in design styles and perhaps people really like their logo and want to show it off but if it means it compromises the visitor experience then that’s not great design. I have to scroll quite a long way to actually get to any content. First there’s the giant header, then a large image that’s quite nice but not telling me anything and then I find something useful.

We deliver training on how to structure a sales page and as part of that we get people to consider what is above “the fold” of their page. “The fold” is basically a pretend line where the bottom of a computer screen would be (these differ in size, clearly, but you can use it as a rough guide) and you need to make sure there is enough stuff going on above “the fold” that the website visitor’s attention is grabbed and they want to carry on down and find out more. This isn’t quite as important on a home page of a website because often the visitor will know they are going to have to look around the website a bit to find what they want, but it is still nice to try and capture their attention with something interesting or useful when they arrive not just a banner of colour and an oversized logo.

Just Not Clear What They Do

There is nothing worse than a waffly home page. One that professes to sort out every aspect of your life with a combination of approaches that will be life changing, using their own strategies and processes developed through their years of intensive training and experience at a range of amazing sounding places enabling them to create the results I have been striving for. And at the end of it all I am none the wiser and actually more confused because I’m now asking myself “what have I been striving for?”. As soon as someone visits your website they should be able to see what it is you do. If you look at our Wellness or Fitness templates you can see really nice examples of homepage structures that immediately draw the website visitors eye to what is on offer and space for a description of each thing.

If you are writing your own copy make sure you are clear about what you are hoping to get across and then ask someone else to take a look over it and ask them whether what you hoped to get across actually did happen. If not then don’t take offence just go back to the drawing board or maybe that might be one area of your business that you need to invest a bit of money in (see our previous blog post) and get a professional to help you with.

Links That Don’t Look Like Links (and Normal Text That Does Look Like a Link)

If you want someone to take the time and look around your site with the intention that they might actually become a paying customer, then you have got to make it easy for them. You need to make links stand out so that without too much effort the website visitor can spot them and move to the next page that they want to look at. Text that is a link should be in a different colour to the rest of the text and the link colour should be consistent throughout the site. Once you have determined your link colour, make sure you only use it for the links. It’s very frustrating as a website visitor when you think something is going to be a link and you click on it and it doesn’t do anything. It is the kind of thing that will end up annoying me and I’ll just leave the site.

Slow Website Speed

On the whole I would say I’m a fairly patient person. I don’t mind waiting a couple of seconds for a website to load initially but once it’s there and in front of me I would like to be able to browse it with minimal interruption and I certainly don’t want to be waiting for every page to load with interminable slowness. To find out how to test your website’s speed performance and some tips on speeding up your sluggish site I recommend you check out one of the blog posts on our 2nd Floor site, Speeding up Your WordPress Website. The post has been around for a bit now but it is still a good guide to follow. If your website is very slow it will definitely be losing you visitors and potentially customers.

No Privacy Policy or Ts&Cs

I have already mentioned GDPR earlier in this post but it’s not one to ignore. Every website these days should have a privacy policy because even if you don’t realise it you are probably using cookies on your website, such as Google analytics. They use cookies to track visitor information such as numbers of people visiting the site, their geographical area and where the traffic came from. So, your privacy policy needs to state all the ways your visitors data is being used with a reassurance about how it is being kept safe. If you are unsure about this, there are a lot of privacy policy templates and guides out there. Make sure you do your research before choosing one.

If you are collecting data such as email addresses for a newsletter this also needs to be covered in your privacy policy and at the point of collecting the data you also need to ask the website visitor to read and agree to your Terms and Conditions about how the data is being used and give them an option to opt out at any time. They have to actively opt into an email list and the best way to do this is by getting them to actively tick a box on the website before submitting their email saying that they are opting in and they agree to the Ts&Cs. That way you have covered all basis! If you are unsure about any of this it’s worth checking it out with someone who specialises in GDPR practice.

Over Used Stock Images

Now, this isn’t a massive problem. You’re not going to get in trouble for it. It’s not going to affect your SEO or website speed performance. It just detracts from a website a bit when someone sees a stock photo on a site that they have seen on many websites before.

Ideally we recommend that people have professional photography taken for their website but when budgets are tight, this is an area where you can explore other options. Try and mix it up a bit if you can. We have a free download that suggests some stock photography sites that have some really nice images and are added to regularly so are less likely to be over used. Also, try taking some photos yourself. There are courses out there on how to take great photos with your smart phone, so if your skills aren’t up to it perhaps that might be worth exploring to help enhance the images on your site.

Any of Those Sound Familiar?

So, if you have read through that and realised that some of those common website problems exist on your site don’t hang around too long. Go and sort them out because they could be affecting your business!! If you need some help with this, you could check out our free Branding and Website Masterclass Webinar come and join us in our Ready Steady Websites Community over on Facebook or if you would like some help reviewing your website, we have a website review service that it might be worth checking out. Good luck!

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

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