Website Problems and The Solutions
In our line of work we talk to a lot of people who aren’t happy with their website which isn’t a big surprise considering what it is that we do. (We do websites, in case that wasn’t clear.) Sometimes they aren’t happy because they designed and built it themselves thinking it would be easy and then they realised that design isn’t actually easy and what they ended up with was something that looked like a school project. Wasting all of their evenings for months and nearly ruining their marriage. OK, that’s extreme but not far from a story we heard from one client!
Other times people have paid money to a “developer” to build them a website and they still aren’t happy. That’s because this “developer” isn’t actually a developer, they are just OK at using Divi for WordPress, but as soon as anything goes wrong they don’t actually know how to fix it because they aren’t a developer and then they handover to their client a broken website that takes forever to load and looks incredibly similar to thousands of others out there.
So, just from those two examples we can already identify a number of problems that surround creating a website for you or your business:
- Poor design
- Time consuming
- Money wasted
- Slow loading time (SEO impact)
- Not unique
All of these things can be easily avoided, and this is how.
There is one easy way to avoid poor design and that is to employ a professional designer. Someone who actually uses a sitemap to work out what pages you need on your website and how you would like those pages to flow. Someone who uses wireframes to plan the structure of the pages, where you want your call to actions to be (these are buttons such as “Buy now” or “Sign up here”), where your images will be and the sizes of the images etc. Someone who will discuss your brand colours with you, your brand fonts and your logo to make sure your website is truly reflective of your business and fits seamlessly with your brand. You get the idea, somebody who really knows design.
But, somebody who is truly good at creating something bespoke isn’t going to be cheap. So, if budget is your issue then you can use an off-the-shelf service but you need to keep some design rules in mind.
- Use white space in your design, by this I mean don’t make your page cluttered. Leave room for the website visitor’s eyes to be able to take everything in on a page.
- Use visual hierarchy in your design. This means be strict about the font sizes that you use. Make the main heading the biggest font and then sub-headings slightly smaller and third level headings smaller again. This way the website visitor knows which parts of the page are most important and again their eyes can move around and take in the information more easily.
- Use fabulous images. I can’t emphasise this one enough. Even if you follow all the other design tips or have your website designed by a true professional, if you then put dull, uninspiring and poorly composed photos all over it then your website is going to look dull and uninspiring as well. In an ideal world it would be great to get professional photos taken with your website design in mind so that the photographer can take images in the right orientation to fit in with the design and of the right subject matter. If you don’t have the budget for that then we have a download called Top 10 Recommendations for Free Images which tells you the sites we use to get our stock images from. These are sites that have some beautiful photography, not your bog-standard stock photo of an uncomfortable man in an office looking at a blank computer screen. You know the ones!
- Consider your typography. This is very important. All too often those creating their own websites get a bit over excited with fonts. They’ll have a nice bold heading in Arial. Then they’ll have their sub-headings in a pretty script style font. Their main text will be in Times New Roman and then they’ll put their buttons in something that looks like a child’s handwriting. And, to be blunt, it all looks a bit of a mess. It doesn’t look professional, not even on the fun side of professional and it’s very distracting and hard for the website visitor to follow.
- Make your calls to action stand out. These are also sometimes referred to as CTAs. As I mentioned before these are the buttons you want someone to click on. This is where they are going to buy from you or sign up to your mailing list, so you want there to be no mistake about where someone needs to click.
If you follow these design rules then your website design should improve. For examples of these rules in action you can check out our Five Things to Improve Your Website Conversions download.
If you are trying to do anything yourself that is new to you, it is likely to be time consuming. If you are low on budget and are trying to use the DIY approach or at least a semi DIY approach it will help if you use a service that provides training. That might be free training, for example WP101 which provides tutorials for WordPress beginners or it might be a service that you buy a predesigned template from which also provides training via tutorials. A really good service will also provide support when you have problems so that you don’t get stuck on one thing for ages, which is when time starts to disappear. So make sure you consider all of this before deciding on your route for getting your website.
So many people think that spending a small amount on a service means they are saving money but in reality, that is quite the opposite. If you were having building work done on your house would you choose a really cheap builder? No, because there’s a reason they’re cheap and you don’t want to find out what that reason is when the structural integrity of your house is involved. So, why do so many people think that paying for the cheapest website is a good idea? We have been in business for ten years and I don’t want to even try and count up how many people have come to us to start their websites again after they had already wasted money on someone else.
I think the problem is that people confuse spending money with wasting money. Spending more to get a decent website that makes your business look more professional and could be the convincer to make someone become your client or customer is a wise investment. So be wise, do your research and don’t skimp.
Slow Loading Time and it’s SEO Impact
You’ve got your website. It’s done. You’re celebrating and then you show it to your friend and it takes forever to load the home page. So long in fact that you know if you were a normal website visitor you would have given up by now and gone somewhere else. There can be many reasons that websites are slow to load. More often than not it is the size of the images that are on the website. Or it could be that a website has been coded poorly or is trying to use too many plugins to do clever things. Speed is important. Not only could people give up with your website but it could also affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Other things to consider around SEO are whether it works across all devices (mobiles, tablets, computers), about 50% of browsing is done on mobile devices now and you also need to consider whether the website is secure.
Unless you really know what you are doing it’s hard to unpack this yourself and I would recommend getting someone who really knows what they’re doing to cast an eye over your website to give you some pointers or even sort it out for you. If you don’t have a web savvy friend to hand, check out our website review service.
It is important for your website to look unique because you and your business are unique. If you are using the same theme as thousands of other people there is a chance your website will look a lot like thousands of other sites but it is possible to put your own stamp on it.
Firstly, make sure your brand is solid. If you have got a solid brand that is instantly identifiable to you, then when someone comes to your website, if your brand has been applied to the website well then it will be unique to you.
Secondly, by using your own images you will have an element of your website that is unique, especially if they are photos of you, but only if that’s appropriate to what you do. In some businesses it is important to use the personal approach because people are buying from you. That’s not always the case. As a business we buy a lot of computer software. I don’t need to see a photo of the people or person who created it, I’d rather see screenshots of how it works. Those screenshots work just as well though, because they are unique to that software.
To get your website right you need to think carefully about it from the start. You need to do your research into the best method that is right for you whether that’s DIY or using a professional. If you decide to use a professional, you need to do your research into them to make sure they really do what they say they do. You need to consider images, typography and branding and once it’s ready to roll, check it’s secure, loading quickly and works on your mobile.
That’s a lot to consider and a lot to take on yourself when you are probably better off using your time doing whatever it is that you do best. So, if you need a hand, just give us a shout.