One challenge for small business owners is to find freelancers who know their craft. Unashamedly Creative works hard to partner with top quality freelancers to bring your projects into fruition. Here’s one such person in guest blogger and web designer, Cathy Topping.
4 website mistakes that could be costing you sales
When I first started building websites, I really focused on the design look and feel, thinking that creating a site that looked fantastic was my number one priority. That’s probably not surprising, as I come from a print design background, where design elements form the language of the marketing material.
I quickly found out that web design is a different beast entirely. Looking good is important, but way more important is how the website functions.
Check if you’re making any of the below mistakes on your site, and if so, fix them today. They’re quick fixes and easy to implement, but the benefits of taking action are huge.
1. Not checking for dead and broken links
Once you’ve had your website up and running for any length of time, it’s a good idea to regularly check for dead links. Coming across broken links is annoying for visitors, and Google isn’t too keen either. I’d recommend running your site through a link checker about once a month.
You will be checking for the following:
Broken links on your own site
You many inadvertently change the URL on one of your posts or pages. You may delete a page or move something around. These are easy mistakes to make, and also easily remedied. If you find a broken link on your site, you can simply relink to a new page, or – ideally – set up a 301 redirect.
Dead links to external sites
If you find that an external page you are linking to no longer exists, take down the link, or relink to something else that is relevant.
Free link checkers
Link validator: totally free manual checks, run by the W3C checker – the body which helps to develop and maintain web standards.
Broken link checker: free service, and provides feedback on where to find the broken links in your page and code.
Deadlink checker: free for manual checks, or offers a subscription to automatically run checks on your site.
2. Not keeping an eye on your site’s download time
There’s nothing guaranteed to put off a visitor to your site than slow downloading time. Website users are modern, impatient creatures, and will not accept waiting more than a second or two for internet sites to load.
Tools to check your page speed
Remember you’re not analysing your whole site by doing this, you can only do 1 page at a time.
Pingdom: Gives a detailed feedback report, colour coded to help you sort out where the bottlenecks are.
PageSpeed Insights: Straight from the horses mouth (otherwise known as Google), PageSpeed Insights gives feedback as well as detailed instructions on how to fix the errors that have been thrown up.
Web Page Analyzer: Gives advice on how to improve page load time.
Decrease page load time
Big images take ages to download on a browser, and hog resources on your server.
A good working practice is to resize images you create to the dimension they will be used (for example, 800px wide for a blog image). If you’re using design software like Photoshop, use the ‘Save for Web’ option, and the image size will be reduced significantly.
If you don’t have access to software to do this, use a plugin like WPSmush to automatically resize images for you.
Another good plugin is WPSuperCache. This will cache the latest version of your page to display to visitors, so that the browser doesn’t need to reload the page every time someone lands on it.
3. Badly worded Calls to Action (CTAs)
A Call to Action is the way you guide your visitor to take the next step through your website.
For some reason, many website owners believe that their visitors know what to do once they’ve landed on their site. In fact, you really need to explain your business and guide your visitors through your site. That is where Calls to Action come in.
Generic terms like ‘Subscribe’, ‘Submit’, Sign Up’, are very vague and general. They are also uninspiring and don’t give your visitors any useful information.
Be specific about what you want them to do. “Get a Quote”, “Download The Whitepaper”, “Get My Weekly Email Tips”. These are unambigious messages that will draw your visitors through your website. They will also help to ensure that people who click the CTAs are on board with what you’re offering.
Use a contrasing colour for your CTA buttons. They need to stand out from the rest of your site, so reserve a specific colour for this part of your design.
The colour needs to fit in with the rest of your site design, so it doesn’t clash, and also needs to stand out from the background it’s sitting on.
Need help with working out colours? Adobe Colour CC is a good place to start.
4. Not having a specifically designed 404 page
A 404 page is a type of web page that appears when a visitor ends up on a URL that no longer exists.
If you implement tip number 1, and regularly check your site for dead links, then your visitors shouldn’t come across these pages too many times.
We’re all human and mistakes can be made. Having a properly designed 404 page means that your visitor doesn’t feel like they’ve hit a dead end.
Write clear instructions
A couple of sentences is enough to let your visitor know that, although the page they’ve landed on no longer exists, this isn’t the end of the road on their exploration of your site.
Include a search bar
Your visitor can then type in the words or phrase they were looking for see if they can find a different, but relevant page. Or they can easily go back to a part of the site they were on previously.
Keep it branded
Your 404 page needs to look like a page that belongs on your website. If it’s too generic, they may think they’ve lost the trail and move on.
Ensure your header and footer are on this page, so your navigation menu and contact details remain in front of them.
Your website needs constant tweaks and monitoring to be working at its fully best. This quick tips will help to ensure that visitors to your site don’t get frustrated or confused. And happy web visitors can turn into happy clients.
ABOUT CATHY TOPPING
Cathy is a firm believer that good website design should focus on marketing and conversions.
Drawing on her 10 years of corporate design experience, as well as the highs and lows of small business ownership, she focuses on helping her clients to build websites that earn their keep.