It is all too easy to think that "We have a website, so all is OK." Wrong! This article details many classic shortcomings, shortcomings that are correctable with the right approach. The article concludes "...it is better to have no website at all than to have a poor one that turns customers away" Food for thought!
The Internet is an amazing place and getting easier and easier for people of all skill levels to operate. This means a great opportunity for businesses to utilise the power of the web to increase their profits and expand like never before. Exactly the same applies to other organisations, be they charities or members clubs.
One of the biggest pitfalls many small businesses and organisations fall prey to, however, is the temptation to cut corners and save a few dollars with all of the seemingly simple ways of putting a website online. Yes, there are hundreds if not thousands of hosting companies that will allow any user to build a website with simple site builder tools. These are terrific for individuals wishing to chronicle their daily experiences, share pictures and videos, or just stroke their egos. However, for a business, a simple amateur website can actually drive customers away.
Some of the possible reasons your website could drive away potential customers are:
Long Load Time: Internet consumers are not only savvy, they are impatient. The high-speed world has made shoppers demanding and they expect immediate results at the click of the mouse. Studies have determined that a website page has about 3 seconds to load before potential viewers think about leaving. Research from Zona Research in 2001 showed "...7 to 8 seconds is a critical period; further, that the difference between losing or keeping 20% of your audience is 1 second". Pictures that are not sized appropriately, or fancy graphics, that take minutes to load are a killer for your website.
The potential customers will not wait for your pictures and information to load, there are too many competitors on the web who have
taken the trouble to ensure that their pages download quickly.
Garish Design and Poor Layout: These are typical amateur mistakes that take an experienced eye to rectify. There can be a fine line between elegant and gaudy. A professional web designer will know what works best from having created many successful websites. An amateur designer will be tempted to use too many garish displays such as multi-media and banner ads to get a point across. Amateurs may be tempted to include all sorts of technically interesting special effects. All of the available media techniques have an important place but knowing how to use them, and the best way to incorporate them into a website without overpowering it, is vital to success.
Poor Navigation: Like short load times internet consumers expect a website to be easy to navigate and fast to move between pages. If they are looking for a specific piece of information such as contact details, service pages, or even individual product information and it is not readily found they will go somewhere else - fast. Equally frustrating are broken links, between pages or related sites, or an inability to get back to any part of the site within two clicks.
Poor Security: One of the most important things on a consumer's mind is how safe their personal and financial information will be if they shop with you. Regardless of how impressed they are with your products if they are unsure of your site's security measures they will go somewhere else.
Poor SEO: Search engine optimisation is one of the most vital marketing tools a website has. If your site isn't showing up high on search engine lists you won't have the chance to drive customers away from your site because they will never get to it to begin with!
If you have an existing website it is important to give it an honest evaluation. How does it stack up to the above pitfalls? As essential as a good website is to your business it is better to have no website at all than to have a poor one that turns customers away.