The web site of today is like the business card of 20 years ago – no serious business would be without one. It provides your name and contact number, but is also a window into the business, with your design, logo and flair. As with a business card, you can tell a lot about a business with even a quick look at their web site – but…as with business cards, not all web sites were born equal.
Regrettably, some of these sites have never successfully “drawn breath” and have either been a pure cost to the business, or have simply marketed the wrong message.
Over the past few years we have studied many hundreds of web sites, driven by a range of different briefs and client needs. Some of these have been for pure research, others for design, a bit of competitor research and also, a few to assist in crafting content for clients. We have also witnessed the operations of a number of web sites from our clients eyes as they have built and maintained their own sites – all of which have provided a range of useful learnings.
So in the interest of learning from the mistakes of others, before you embark on your own web site journey, consider the following web site mishaps;
Client T – Domain not searchable
Had a very catchy business name, very clever and modern….but, when thrown to the general web searching public, it was close to invisible. The clever name which included a numeric component could actually be typed several different ways – which meant lost searches. If your business names can be written different ways, then either change to one that can’t, or capture all of the different domain options so its easy for your prospects to find you.
Client L – Weak hosting and maintenance
A cheap hosting option had been selected and for a while – everything went well. One day however a random enquiry found that a lot of the site links had been deactivated. They had been “turned off” and meant that for approximately 5 weeks, enquiries has been going nowhere. A quick warning sign is that when you pay little or no monthly support fees – this generally equates to getting “little or no support”. Lets be honest, no hosting firm cannot afford to provide product/services for free.
Client R – Site not found
Having a great looking site does not not mean that it will rank well for the search engines. The back ground code on the site, the related links, the keywords and the page content all play a part in being “searchable”. If you are not sure of what this background material is, or what it should say – then all the more reason to speak to someone who does.
Client A – Not mobile friendly
Client H – Security issues
Poor security on your web site will leave you susceptible to being hacked. Hacked sites can lose data, miss enquiries, post inappropriate material and even have your domain blacklisted. Some web code types are more susceptible than others, and some hosting firms are not attentive enough to keeping the security patches up to date. Check first to avoid a clean up later.
Client B – Part time build
With so many people professing an ability to build web sites, there is a number of providers who do this on a part time basis. If you choose to use one of these part time developers, be very careful about how long it will take. One experience last year saw a client take 6 months to get their site built – 4-5 months longer than it should have.
All of these web site issues have cost the business time and/or money. The driver in most cases was to save money, yet the delays or time taken to correct quickly eroded any cost benefits – and in most cases, ended up costing more. What is more difficult to quantify was the number of “missed opportunities” which either never found the way to the site or were lost altogether.
The web is a fantastic visual shopping strip, filled with significant opportunity and lots of traffic – for those who can attract them. Any one of the above mishaps can make you invisible to the traffic who are there, so when you think web, approach it seriously. Remember, you always get what you pay for and for something as important as the marketing of your business, you most likely don’t want a “cheap” program anyway.