If you’re about to launch a new website for your business, you’re probably a little excited. You might even think your new website will do everything it should to attract and retain customers. According to Hubspot, however, chances are you’d be wrong
That’s the conclusion of Hubspot’s “Does Your Website Make the Grade?” After testing the performance of more than 1 million websites worldwide, Hubspot found most received a failing grade in each of 4 principal categories: performance, mobile optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), and security. In fact, the average overall grade for the websites tested was a solid “F.”
The good news is that the lion’s share of mistakes web designers make are relatively easy to avoid, with some careful planning. Here are 6 of the most common mistakes new websites make:
- They’re not optimized for mobile: almost half of all searches are now conducted on mobile devices (like tablets and smartphones). Even so, according to one recent study, only 17% of the world’s almost 1 billion websites are optimized for such devices. If your website isn’t responsive, customers and prospective customers will quickly become frustrated and abandon your site in favor of one of your competitors.
- They have poor navigation: visitors come to your website for a reason—they’re looking for specific information. It could be your hours, your location, a clear statement which tells them what your business is all about, FAQs, or a description of your products and services. It’s critically important to become informed about what information your customers want most often, and then make that information easy to find. Make sure your homepage has clear links to this information, and that you maintain “persistent navigation” (which means that your navigation bar should persist across all website pages, so visitors can easily move from one page to another, and back again). Finally, you should consider including a search function that works.
- They have weak design elements: strong design means much more than attractive images and slick graphics. Strong design elements improve the experience of site visitors, increasing the likelihood they come away with a positive image of your business. That means headers should accurately describe the content below them, and that your site loads quickly. According to research from Hubspot, almost 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes too long to load, and 38% will stop engaging with a site if the layout is “unattractive.”
- They don’t collect customer and prospective customer contact information: what’s the point of sending people to your website if you have no way of communicating with them after they leave? It’s important to collect key information, especially an email address. The best way to collect contact information is to offer site visitors valuable content in exchange for that data. When you send marketing emails or place sponsored ads, include a link that sends respondents to a landing page. On that page, make your content offer (for example, if you’re selling refrigerators, you could offer an article which tells customers how to choose a refrigerator that meets their needs as inexpensively as possible). To see the article, visitors provide their contact information, which you can then use to continue the conversation.
- They lack quality content: having high-quality of content (like blogs, articles, podcasts, videos and eBooks) on your site does two things. First, it engages site visitors, helping you polish your brand and converting window shoppers into loyal customers. Second, it enhances SEO, increasing your rankings in organic searches. Far too many businesses take the time to build beautifully designed sites, then fill them with mediocre content. Make sure to test every piece of content before your post it on your site.
- They’re not continually updated: recent ransomware attacks across multiple countries were successful because of the number of sites which don’t regularly install security updates. Installing updates might seem like an unnecessary annoyance, but not doing so can put your customers’ data at risk. The cost of recovery, not to mention the costs associated with a damaged reputation, is well worth the time it takes to update your site whenever you need to.
Avoiding the most common website design pitfalls is one way to build your brand, acquire new customers and increase sales—but it’s only one. You also need to choose a hosting provider who takes the time to understand your business, provides you a customized solution, and ensures the security of your site. To learn more about the ways our cloud, managed hosting, web hosting, and security and compliance services can help you achieve your business objectives and grow your business, contact us today.