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Top 10 Habits of a Bad Web Site

Are you a business owner who has become frustrated with your website? Do you feel like your web site doesn’t do the things you need it to do? Web sites that are not properly setup and maintained have the same issues your other employees have. Is your website an Ugly Duckling, a Chatterbug or a Couch Potato? The purpose of this article is to help you review possible flaws in the design of a web site. Once you’ve done so, you can make targeted corrections that are inexpensive and easier to implement.

The Ugly Duckling
There’s a rule I share with all of my clients: ‘Your customers make a direct correlation between the quality of your promotional materials and the quality of your product or service.’ And though that may be a mouthful, it sure seems like the truth. A poorly designed or put together web site invites your prospective customers to believe your service is of a similar quality. A quick review of your site, page by page and in multiple browsers, can give you a short clean-up list that can result in your Ugly Duckling blossoming into a graceful (and money-making) Swan. With a well-designed site, your operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company.

The Chatterbug
Does it seem like your website just won’t shut up? Do you have cluttered pages, too much text and not enough message? Or is each page’s message so distinct that a visitor must click every link to find what they are looking for? Both of these scenarios are almost certain to drive away all but the most persistent customers. Good web design is a process of reduction. Your web site should contain only the information your customer needs to get to the next step in the process. Qualifying your customers with the basics and then leading them to a call to action, like filling out a form, downloading a brochure, or making a purchase, will pay out in dividends.

The Couch Potato
Has it been weeks, months or even years since your site has changed? Content that is unique, timely and entertaining is critical to getting good visitors and good search engine rankings. If you want repeat customers, you have to give them a reason to come back to your site. Working with all of your staff, you can put together an update schedule according to a time-line, by topic, by page, or any other way that is convenience for your business model.

The Wallflower
The phrase “search engine optimization” can be intimidating, even to the bravest of web sites. With millions of other sites competing for the attention of each search engine, your site can easily get lost in the shuffle. No need to be intimidated. Search engines know quality when they see it. If you take the time to put your heart on your sleeve you’ll do well. Want more specific advice? Keep your keywords in your title, meta tags, content, and hyperlinks. Use about 400-600 words on each page. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. If you are running a business you have some expertise to share. Use Facebook, articles, press releases, or other social media channels to spread your message…GET OUT THERE AND DANCE, SISTER!

The Old Coot
Most of us get comfortable doing things a certain way. Unfortunately, getting too comfortable with your web site can mean Legacy Data. That is, data running within software that is out of date or inaccessible. Standards of compliance are always changing. Forms, shopping carts, security certificates, and calendars that worked in 2005 may not do so well now. However most legacy systems have modern day counterparts that support data migration. For those with expired systems or other custom requirements – don’t worry. Most good web developers can backup your existing data and capture that same data in real time, giving your grandpa enough info to make him a technological terror.

The Menace
Does your website have missing pages, broken links, forms that won’t submit, and errors always popping up? Your site may be a Menace! Potential customers will leave for a friendlier site before they put up with any nonsense. What you need is a map. Check your site map page by page, making sure it’s up-to-date and that every link works. Once you’ve got that done you’re ready for a sitter. Find a good link checker and give your site a monthly or weekly review of all of its hyperlinks, images, or other media links to be sure they still lead somewhere.

The Grumpy Neighbor
Visiting a simple, easy-to-navigate web site designed with the visitor in mind is like sitting down with a friend for an afternoon coffee. Not so with the Grumpy Neighbor. Garish graphics, blinking lights, too much advertising, or annoying menu’s all shout GO AWAY and visitors are quick to listen. Take some time to turn down your troubles. If you’ve got good content but poor design elements a graphical update can turn your Grumpy Neighbor into a manager and entertainer to be proud of.

The Lazy Butler
Are poor sales, low conversions, and nonexistent search engine rankings common occurrences with your site? Maybe the traffic is there and is being mis-routed, mis-informed, or just plain missed. Do you have a Lazy Butler on staff? Checking your statistical logs can provide you with great info if you know where to look. There are two key places most web developers miss. Try reviewing exit pages. Look for visitors leaving during the purchase or form-fulfillment stages. Second, look for error codes. 404 means ‘Page not Found’ and anything in the 500’s is a Server error. Polish up your points of entry and iron out the wrinkles to give each visitor a positive experience.

The Frumpy Salesperson
Poor resolution or distorted photos, incomplete or incorrect product descriptions, checkout procedures that confuse or mislead are all characteristic of a Frumpy Salesperson. Your web site is your front line and first point of contact for a significant portion of your potential clientele. Take the time to test your sales process through to completion. Be thorough in testing your shopping cart, the ability to add multiple methods of payment, and managing multiple shipping and billing addresses. Make sure your visitors come away informed and impressed.

The Intern
Sometimes the simplest tasks are the ones that can cause the most damage if mishandled. So why do business owners continue to put untrained Interns on the front lines of their business? Protecting and sharing confidential data, routing email, and displaying schedules are all tasks that should be carefully defined and implemented to ensure business runs smoothly. Now that your website has put in its time maybe it’s your turn. Keep the things that have worked up til now and scrap or revisit the things that haven’t worked so well. When complete your Intern will be ready to work full time.

So what does the world see when it see’s your website? A polite and professional presence that guides your visitors to a successfully completed transaction, or…something else.

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