Last week we carried out website audits for a couple of business owners who were unhappy with the performance and content on their websites, and wanted our help to identify and fix any possible website mistakes.
Whenever we create a marketing strategy for a business, or project manage a new website build, we incorporate a website audit as part of the job. We’ve realised how helpful these are to our clients so now we also offer them as a standalone service (get in touch if you’d like us to look at your website).
Our process involves a full review of the site, page by page. We examine the design, functionality and copy of each page and compile a detailed report of the issues we find, whether they’re with user experience, off-putting content that could be improved, broken links, boring corners that need a turbo boost. Everything really. For each issue we report back on, we also provide a resolution (we are ‘solution people’) and often give examples of where we’ve seen something similar done well around the web, so that our clients can truly understand exactly what we think would be better for their business.
There are three website mistakes service-based businesses are prone to making. Here they are, so you can check your own website and find out if you are making them too…
Website Mistake #1: Including too much on the home page.
Every page on your website should have one function – engage the reader enough to get them to click onto the next page – the home page is no exception.
It’s tempting to go a bit… ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ with a home page. Throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that, in order to cover all the bases and communicate every possible message that might convince the reader, and every possible call to action you want them to take. When you read a home page like this, you feel those desperate vibes: “they’ve arrived, quick, tell them everything before they leave again!!!”
As recent perpetrators of this mistake, we know how hard it is to limit yourself here, but clear and simple is best.
- Eliminate long sections of copy.
- Use short sections of writing instead. Include calls to action that signpost the next step you want the reader to take (where you can give them more information), for example: what your services are, or about your business. Imagine your home page is really a glorified contents page, and share tempting details about the key content pages that entice readers to click through.
- Cut out anything that’s not contributing to welcoming visitors and helping them to ensure they are in the right place, and helping them to move through the rest of the website to find the detail they need.
- Check out this example of a great home page.
Website Mistake #2: Using terrible stock images
It’s not unusual for businesses to find the cost of creating their own collection of images prohibitive. We all sometimes have to turn to stock imagery (see image above), but when it comes to stock photography, ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ definitely applies. There’s a skill to choosing attractive, non-clichéd, fresh looking images that don’t already make an appearance on 100 other websites.
- Choose a theme for your images, for example, black or white, including faces, or shot outside.
- If you’ve seen it before, don’t use it.
- Give your images a consistent ‘look’ by adding a filter to adapt the light or colour – this helps to give more uniformity and a central style to images.
- Avoid clichés – globes, people writing on an imaginary glass, cheesy handshakes, etc.
- Hunt out candid shots – photos where people look directly at the camera are usually unnatural.
Further reading: How to Choose the Perfect Stock Photo Every Time
Website Mistake #3: Making users work too hard
Visitors to your site are there to solve a problem or find out some information. As the website owner, it’s your job to help them to do that using the minimum effort. To paraphrase Donald Miller, it’s important to limit the amount of ‘calories’ the reader has to use up to find what they want, or they will give up and go away.
This means not making users work hard. Do this by limiting the number of fields in a form, reducing copy length and making it easy to consume, putting yourself into the shoes of a first time visitor to work out how they might be experiencing your content and developing links that are intuitive to their needs. Sounds easy, but it’s not, so asking a third party who IS a first time visitor to review the website is a helpful process to go through.
- Make sure titles clearly describe the copy below; we often find that a header doesn’t truly reflect the content underneath.
- Add subtitles to allow skim reading.
- Simplify your language and avoid the passive tense.
- Add search functions and key post links on blog pages.
- Reduce form fields to the bare minimum.
Still not sure if you’ve got it right? We can help you with this! Visit our contact page to book a no-obligation chat about your website. We’ll tell you more how we can help you to create a website that welcomes potential clients in, and converts them to willing buyers! Or, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, I always write back!