Monday, June 16, 2008

The 5 Biggest Mistakes of Web Design

Your business needs a website. Here's a quick primer on how not to screw it up.

Anyone who faces the challenge of having a website built faces a very daunting task, indeed. You know your business needs a web site, or perhaps you need to rebuild what you've already got. Getting is right is a delicate balance of business objectives, usability for the web, and search engine promotion. Getting it wrong is what this article is designed to help you avoid.

Here are the five biggest mistakes you must avoid.

1. Not establishing objectives

Without a thorough plan to kick things off, what are you building? It's kind of like showing up at the airport one day and saying, "I'm going on a vacation." Where are you going? Where will you stay when you get there? How long will you go for? Can you afford it? Did you ask your boss for the time off? Did you shut off the oven?

To start, figure out what you want the benefits of your website to be. Forget about the bells and whistles required to make it happen; that's the job of your web designer. Establish what you want your website do for your business. Some examples: generate leads, sell your products/services right on the website, reduce administrative tasks, brand your company, pre-qualify prospects, recruit employees – the things a website can do for your company are virtually limitless. Establish your objectives and ensure that you and your web designer understand them fully.

2. Ignoring your customers

We're talking about your messaging here. It's so easy to write your content from an internal perspective. What you want to say, what you think is compelling, what you think matters. What about your customers? Don't forget that you need to convince them to do business with you.
The key to writing good, customer-centric content is to understand the "why". Why should your customers buy from you? You might think you know, but a good dose of objective research will uncover the truth. Capitalize on your unique selling proposition from the perspective of how it benefits your customers.

You will also need to use proper web style in your writing. Your content should be well organized, highly scannable, easy to digest, and to the point. If you can organize it in a "pyramid" style, even better. This is where the most important, compelling information is presented first, and deeper information follows (such as technical specifications). Depending on your strengths this may be difficult for you to produce, so you may consider hiring a professional writer or copywriter.

3. Forgetting the marketing

There is an old Kevin Costner baseball movie that has an analogy that is so clichéd I simply cannot bring myself to repeat it. In the realm of baseball and the afterlife it may be true, but in the world of the web, it sure ain't. When your website is built, it is an island; and a deserted one at that. Your customers don't know about it and neither do the search engines. You need to tell them. You need to market your website.

Getting your website noticed by the right people is key. You're not actually marketing to search engines here. Search engines are simply a means to an end. You need to market to your customers. You must understand that your customers use different online methods to find what you sell; and this most likely includes search engines.

You may also consider newsletter advertising, email advertising, PR campaigns, social networking, etc. The exact approach you need to take depends on your objectives, how your target audience looks for what you sell, your budget, your industry, etc.

4. Not measuring the results

So, how did you do? You built a great web site and marketed the heck out of it. How many people came to your site? How many became leads? How many leads did you turn into customers? How much were they worth? What content did your visitors like and not like? {Insert your own redundant questions here}

Just like any marketing venture, you must measure the results in order to find out if it was successful. I'm talking about things like:

A tracking plan. Your leads might call you instead of buying online or using your contact form. You need a plan to track them, and how they found you. If you're running offline marketing campaigns, setup a separate domain name, create a unique web page, or use a separate 800 number. Online forms specific to a marketing campaign can be really useful as well.

Statistics and reporting. Good statistics can tell you a lot about how people use your website. Google Analytics is a wonderful package, easy to install, and totally free. More than this, you need to understand the numbers, and draw conclusions. This takes quite a lot of practice and understanding. A professional web design or marketing company can help you with this.

Adapt. Use your results, don't just read them. This will invariably require consulting with an expert again, but you need to act on your results to improve them. This is an on-going process. Forever.

5. Getting Paralyzed

A lot of web design projects never see the light of day because they get mired down in perpetual planning. There comes a time when you need to act. You won't get it perfect the first time out (or ever), but you've got to move. If you aim, re-aim and re-aim forever, you'll never actually get off a shot. Aim – shoot – repeat.

A quick caveat: I'm not telling you to put up a poorly written and poorly constructed web site just to have something; that can be very dangerous. A bad website can turn customers away and, even worse, have them poison your business through negative word of mouth. What I am telling you to do is to not get paralyzed trying to perfect your plan. Hiring the right team of experts can get you on track, and get things moving.

Hopefully this article helps steer you away from the most common (and dangerous) pitfalls of web design. Whether you hire a professional, create your site internally, or do it on your own from start to finish, keep these tips in mind.

In Summary

By avoiding these five common mistakes you can ensure that your website has a fighting chance. Let this article serve as a map so you can avoid, at a minimum, some of the bigger and more costly detours.

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2 Comments:

At July 2, 2008 at 5:53 PM , Blogger sonali said...

Very true. In fact, often web designers go over the top while designing their site. They use lots of animation, images and irrelevant colors, which in turn, overwhelm the visitors rather than attracting them to the site.

 
At July 2, 2008 at 6:13 PM , Blogger sonali said...

by the way, try to pay a visit to http://www.webdesignexperts4u.com/

 

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