22 Feb The Top Five Problems With YOUR Website
Here are the top 5 problems we see when evaluating a prospective client’s website:
First and foremost, the top problem we see is oversimplifying what it means to have a website in the first place. Similar to managing a physical location for your business, running a website requires a tremendous amount of work yet a lot of the people we cross paths with have no intention of investing more than a minimum effort at best. We constantly hear things like, “we just need a website” or “ya know, just something simple” – reducing the idea of what a website is to basically an online brochure with the expectation that the leads will just come flowing in. Even among seasoned executives and entrepreneurs, people’s initial idea of what they need is often very different than what their business actually needs to be successful.
What this means for business owners is that it’s time to step your game up, people are used to getting more from their internet. When preparing for your next website build, whether it’s your first site or your tenth, take a step back and consider how to approach it. What is your goal for the site? Who is your customer and what are they looking for? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? What about social media and search presence? Beyond generating leads, how can you use the internet to automate systems?
Your website is an engine for your business – and it’s running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Try to envision how much it can do for you and your customers then set out to create the best site you can possibly build.
Next on the list is determining why you even need a website to begin with, what you intend do to with it and what you hope to get from it. The universal, “Every business needs a website” isn’t enough, business owners need to go deeper. Think about function, aesthetic, strategy and how the site will evolve in the upcoming months or even possibly years.
Knowing your intent will help guide you and your developer in the process of building the site. If you have a restaurant, make sure your menu and location are super-easy to find and integrate online reservations so your visitors can book right there on the spot. If you run a fashion boutique make sure you’re using compelling imagery with proper lighting and resolution. If you offer a cutting-edge technology, your site shouldn’t look like it was built in 2003. In the early planning stages, some questions to consider are:
- What purposes will my site serve?
- What are my performance goals?
- Who will manage the site and how much will be invested into the upkeep? This is an important one, make sure you set things on the right course by designing and building a site that’ll be practical to maintain.
- What type of leads do you want to attract and how will you convert those leads – will they email you or will you email them, will they call, visit…?
Continuing from the above issue, another fundamental problem we see with companies’ websites, or their entire web presence for that matter, is the lack of an overall strategy. When kicking off a web development project, lots of businesses focus only on aesthetics or meeting certain specification requirements. Rather than dictating a list of features or copying the look and feel of another website, we recommend that businesses focus on the goals they’re setting out to achieve – then work with your agency to develop the best strategy that will create the most value.
An agency worth hiring should be able to help you properly align your business for the long term. For example, we were approached by a business owner that wanted us to redesign her Magento store. This was a small, independent business and during our initial discussions, she mentioned that the upkeep of the site would be handled by a junior-level assistant with no programming knowledge. Magento is a great platform but it’s a beast to maintain and basically requires an on-call technical staff just to keep it up and running properly. Instead of rebuilding on Magento, we moved her over to Shopify which is much easier to use and more suitable for her business. Ultimately, we saved her money on the initial rebuild as well as hosting and maintenance costs over time.
Your agency should be like a partner, not a just a hired hand. Thinking in terms of goals rather than aesthetics, features, short term budgets or status quo will help you keep an open mind so that you and your agency can collaborate to identify opportunities and blindspots which will ensure the maximum growth of your business and the best long term return on your investment.
The next issue we see is design. By “design” here, we don’t just mean the way a website looks, great web design is about creating the best experience for your visitors. Just like a trip to your office, store or restaurant, your website should deliver a compelling presentation that drives user conversion, whether that means a sale, an email, a phone call, a newsletter sign-up, or even a social network follow.
- Layout: Consider everything from your site’s overall theme to the colors and fonts used.
- Content: The site’s content should clearly communicate your company’s message. Make sure key information is prominent like pricing, phone numbers and location details. Use high quality images and avoid long-form text where simple statements or lists will do.
- User Experience: Respect the your visitors’ time. Beyond layout and content, be sure to streamline navigation so they can be learning about your business instead of digging through frivolous pages. Simplify processes like collecting payments or contact information, make it easy for them to follow-up on orders, use pop-ups sparingly. Think holistically about how your site makes its users feel.
- Mobile Friendliness: It’s 2014 and responsive design is a must. We see anywhere from 60-90% of traffic on our clients’ sites coming from mobile devices. There’s no reason a visitor should have to zoom in and pan back and forth to read text or click links with a fingernail.
- Performance: Faster! We’re twitchy and we’re caffeinated. Your site needs to load in 2-4 seconds max otherwise we’re gone.
- Backend: What goes on behind the scene of your website is just as important as what users see. Your site needs to be built with an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) so you and your team can make updates efficiently, process orders and handle the site’s administrative responsibilities as effectively as possible.
The last major issue we see, and this one may be a little hard for some people to swallow, is not investing enough – in both money and time. Don’t skimp, awesome websites come with a price tag and in the web world, you get what you pay for. Websites are like digital real estate and just like a brick and mortar location, the right site will help your business flourish while the wrong one will only hurt it. Rather than just thinking about saving dollars up front or racing to get something up as quickly as possible, think in terms of making the right investment to optimize the growth of your business.
When you’re in the process of opening up a shop, restaurant or office, it’s not just about price or speed, right? You’re considering location, equipment, interior design, growth potential, lease structure, total lifetime cost, etc. Think the same way about your website. Can customers find you? What happens when they’re on your site, are they compelled to contact you or make a purchase? Are you keeping the content fresh to encourage people to come back? Does it perform well, what about on mobile devices? Do your due diligence and be prepared to make the proper investment.
Admittedly, trying to figure out how much a website should cost can be a bit of a maze for business owners. On one end, you’ve got people on Craigslist saying they’ll build your site in 5 days for a couple hundred dollars vs digital agencies that won’t even answer the phone for less than $50,000. Here are some guidelines to help you along:
- Time: Generally, the bare minimum time it takes to build a website is 80-100 hours and this would be for a pretty basic “online brochure” type site.
- Rate: Building a website combines several highly specialized skill sets – user experience (UX) design, software engineering, photography and graphic design. The average hourly rate for professionals in any of these disciplines would be at least $75-100/hr. Side note: No one person can handle all of these roles. Anyone who says they can is leading you down a scary path – RUN!
- Cost: Ultimately, the average starting cost for a website will be around $8000.
Beyond building the site itself, the ultimate goal is to grow your business so how you follow-through once the site is live will arguably be more important than the initial launch. Be prepared to invest the proper time and money in digital marketing so that your online business has the exposure it needs to thrive. Keep your content fresh to ensure users have a reason to come back regularly. Make enhancements whenever possible, stay on the lookout for bugs and glitches. A well built, well maintained website coupled with a strong marketing presence will provide a virtually endless stream of revenue so be sure you’re doing whatever it takes to ensure the success of your online business.