Top 5 mistakes clients make when planning a new website
Mistake #1: Forget to plan.
One of the first things you need when starting a business is to put together a business plan, why would a website be any different?
We are often approached by clients who know they need a website (or website redesign), but they know very little else. A few key points they often forget about are:
What function they want their website to fulfill.
What information they want their visitors to see.
Which keywords they want their website to rank for in search engines.
Have they prepared any existing information or images by the first meeting.
Do they have a clear idea of who their clients are and what they want.
When dealing with clients who have done their homework the designer can lay out information in a way that aligns with the client’s goals, while creating user journeys and experiences that are easy for visitors to understand and navigate.
Understanding your content is key to properly planning and laying out your site.
Mistake #2: Ignoring your current website’s stats and history.
Looking at a client’s existing website’s performance is one of the best ways to gauge interest in their product or service. It shows what the client’s visitors are looking for and where they are falling off the page. Other valuable information like visitor demographics and geography can also be collected from website statistics. Unfortunately a lot of the times, by the time a client makes contact their intended deadline is around the corner and the design team is forced to either wing it or work with what the client thinks their users want, versus making informed decisions using real information gathered from the site.
Leaving enough time to collect a proper data sample or sending a reasonable amount of traffic with the help of a Google Adwords service in order to put together a more accurate picture of who clients are, ensures a better user experience, more enquiries, and potentially less money spent on marketing later on.
Mistake #3: Trying to look bigger, better, more important than they actually are.
A decade ago all you needed to dazzle your visitors was to litter your site with stock photography of overly happy models in business suits shaking hands. Today the average South African spends a significantly longer portion of their day engaging with digital than with any other medium. Consumers have grown immune against the mountains of bullsh*t and have learned to spot liars from far away. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t put your best foot forward, but our best advice is to keep all your marketing - not just your site, as genuine as possible and to stick as closely as possible to your brand.
A few key tips here are:
Don’t ask your web designer or copywriter to ‘bend the truth’ even if it’s just a little.
When possible, use real pictures of your business, your team, and your products or services.
Don’t default to ‘generic’ stock photography because you are afraid of having to update pictures in future or because you want to look ‘more important’.
Mistake #4: Borrowing images and copy (text) from other websites.
Not only is this dangerous from a copyright standpoint and frowned upon by most users online. Search engines like Google checks the content of your website for content that has been plagiarised (yes even if you change the content a little bit) and it then penalises your site causing the site to show up less in searches.
Remember your content is a direct reflection on your brand, and copying and pasting what someone else has posted, creates a disconnect between your brand and it’s following.
Mistake #5: Choosing form over function.
As designers our job is to find the perfect balance between a well executed visual style and a user experience that takes new visitors from point A to B with the least possible resistance. For a site to be successful it needs to load quickly, look good, and have content that your audience finds relevant and helpful. Unnecessary functionality not only adds to your load time, but also brings in new elements that could create confusion when attempting to navigate the site and understand the personality of your brand.
The work isn’t done when your site is built, marketing your new website is just as important as the site itself.
Bonus Mistake: Not leaving money in the budget for marketing your new website.
A popular line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams that has been adapted over the years and that you probably know very well is: “If you build it, they will come”. While this might have been true for Kevin Kostner, the opposite is actually true for web design. The truth is that the internet is so over saturated that just adding or updating your website is not enough to ensure visitors anymore. It’s important to leave money in your budget to market your website once it has gone live.
The 4 main approaches to marketing your business online in South Africa are:
Directly marketing your website through print ads, business cards, links in email banners, personally sending out your website links to clients.
Social media marketing either through a social marketing company or in-house person or team.
Cost per click marketing campaigns either managed in-house or through an agency like our friends at Metis Marketing Solutions.
Bulk mail marketing either through building your own list of subscribers or through partnerships with companies who have overlap when it comes to subscriber interests and/or needs.