Ten Things to Avoid When Building Your Website
Article by the NMC Team
After having built as many websites as we have, there are common errors that clients tend to make. We wanted to share our “top ten” list of things to avoid when building your website.
As the saying goes, “Begin with the end in mind.” When you create a website, it’s important to first think of what you want the visitor to do when they come to your site, then to build out your content and design accordingly.
Here are our top ten things to avoid:
1. Don’t embed music files, video or animation to play automatically.
Most users just find it annoying and will often exit the site without viewing any more pages.
2. Avoid writing for search engines instead of people.
Often content written to be ‘search engine friendly’ is repetitive and awkwardly worded. Keep the copy short and to the point, providing unique content that is valuable to the reader.
3. Don’t put text in images (such as headers or paragraph text).
This is bad for search engine optimization, for site loading time and for people with visual disabilities using screen readers. It is better to use “real” text when possible. It is also possible to embed customized fonts in your website that are even compatible with older browsers.
There are many websites out there that are completely image-based, meaning that the text you see on the site isn’t actually text, but it is one solid picture of text (you can tell by trying to highlight it with the mouse). The problem with image text is that search engines can’t read pictures so those websites will not do well with organic search.
4. Avoid not optimizing images.
The size of images used on the site significantly affects site loading time. Site loading time also affects how well your site is treated by search engines. Every single graphic or image needs to be balanced between quality and loading time to deliver the optimal experience to the end user.
5. Don’t forget about mobile devices.
Most websites now receive 10% or more of their traffic from mobile devices. Forgetting that your website needs to be compatible with smaller screens or touch screens can create a bad experience for your visitors. Forty percent of people will turn to a competitor site when faced with a poor mobile experience, 71% of people expect a site to load as fast on their phone as on a desktop computer, and by 2013, more people will use their mobile devices to get online than their computers.
(Source for stats – Google How to Go Mobile - http://www.howtogomo.com)
6. Don’t think, “It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
No, your site doesn’t have to be pretty to rank on search engines; it just needs the right content. However, ranking is only half the battle. The next step is to get your site to convert. The best way to get your audience to do what you would like is to make them trust you. A visually pleasing site with easy-to-use navigation is a very effective way to help your conversion rate.
If people find your site visually pleasing, then they are likely to stay on your site longer. Google knows this and will send people to sites that are more attractive than those that are less attractive.
7. Avoid stagnant sites.
There is a common misconception that once your website is finished, you never need to touch it again. However, websites need to be updated on a regular basis to keep search engines interested and to effectively keep up with the competition. Over time, a stagnant site will drop in search engine ranking. A site that is updated regularly with SEO-driven content will give you the competitive advantage and help keep your site visible.
8. Be sure you add relevant and timely content.
Google is more likely to send people to a site that has content that is relatively new, fresh, and targeted at your audience. If you have a site about the joy of owning yellow Labs, then be sure you have the latest research on why yellow Labs are the ideal family pet. Add testimonials from yellow Lab owners. Add photos of yellow Labs.
Make your content relevant, timely, and rich with photos, videos and articles. Google will reward you by sending more visitors to your site because you are relevant, timely and targeted.
9. Don’t think that Google wants to reward you as the site owner.
Google wants to serve the people who are searching. Be sure you ‘serve up’ content that Google will find relevant to their customers who are the people searching on the Web. Google rewards sites that are kept current and targeted (Ditto #8!).
10. Finally, pay attention to your Google Analytics.
It is a major mistake to ignore the analytics because they are overwhelming. You need to pay attention to the pages people are visiting and whether they are doing what you want them to do on your site (read articles, call your phone number, send you an email, or buy your product). Do you know what you want people to do on your site? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and re-think your website strategy.
Let us know if you can think of any others.