It was the early ’90s. Wacko Jacko was all over MTV and a busty blonde named Pammie ran in super slow-mo along a Californian beach in THAT red one-piece. Something else rather big was brewing that decade too. Special engineers with their thinking caps tightly screwed on came up with an idea, a little thing they called the ‘world wide web’. Sound familiar?
The first website was launched into cyberspace in all its pixelated, clunky glory. Back in the cringe-worthy era of the ’90s, flashy marketing sites, animated GIFs, scrolling text and drop shadows were the ‘it’. Dial-up modems everywhere screeched like landing UFO’s as people started to connect to something extraordinary, unknown and exciting.
Fast forward to 2015 – we’ve come a long way, hopefully.
It’s been almost a quarter of a century, yet there are still a number of websites out there lacking in any form of innovation. So, ask your mum nicely to get off the landline so you can dial-up and get familiar with some of the ways your page is offensive, and how to c = combat it of course!
#1. Your site is stuck in slow motion.
A slow website is not acceptable. People don’t like waiting – it’s simple psychology. If your website functions as though it was created for dial-up, it’s easy for a customer to think that you’re providing a dated product or service. Time is money and no-one has the time or patience to wait for a slow loading website – think of potential customers. If you want people to visit your site again make sure it gives them the quick hit they’re looking for.
#2. Your website is hard to find. – we’re not playing Where’s Wally here.
So you’ve spent time and money on a glorious new website (ahh, I love the smell of HTML in the morning) and you’re just sitting back waiting for the leads to come rolling in… waiting… waiting… Was that a tumbleweed? “Where the bloody hell are you?” A website without SEO is like a VW without diesel – there’s no point running it. Make sure you’re one of Google’s good friends (or at least a Facebook acquaintance) and people can actually reach your site through a search engine.
#4. Your site is undercover
Unless you are an agent on Homeland, there’s no conceivable reason you’d publish your contact details in the sixth paragraph of your final page in white text on a white background. Make your contact details BIG and easy to find. You never know who might be in a hurry to get in touch.
#5. You have an anti-social website
People who deny the importance of social media are like the people who believe we never landed on the moon. The social realm is real, my friends, and it’s not going away. By allowing your content and your images to be share-able you get more visibility, which means more traffic, better search engine rankings and more lead generation opportunities. A quick tip – put your social icons at the top of every. single. page. Some people will still miss them.
#6. Your site is stuck in back when double denim was cool.
Remember that website improvement you suggested back in 2010? There are children who have now mastered their parents’ iPad since your light-bulb idea. If the cycle of life moves faster than your website refresh cycle, then it’s a pretty sure sign that your website is out-dated.
#7. Your site is still using the landline
Do you have a mobile and tablet responsive website design? If the answer is no, your website is absolutely in need of some TLC – you need a new site, friend.
#8. Get your brand out
For your brand to stand out it has to tell a meaningful story that catches people’s attention and engages them with emotion and feeling. Using a templates or themes has a place,we’re not denying that. However, if you really want to develop a unified brand and vision direction, you’re going to need to put your own distinct flavour onto your site and ensure that your online presence is a reflection of your real world existence. There’s not point copying something if it doesn’t reflect who and what you are.
#9. Your site doesn’t come with an instruction manual
Consumers might be visiting your site, but if no-one is attending events or subscribing to your e-newsletters , chances are, you’re lacking some clear calls to action. Direct your customers and make your site a ‘journey’, direct customers to take some kind of action where you are capturing their “deets” or lead them to get in touch.
#10. Your site has a good face for radio
While what’s on the inside counts, if you don’t take pride in appearances, you’ll be counting your followers on one hand. Don’t overwhelm your virtual visitors – simplicity is often key. Allow for space, don’t’ fill every nook and cranny with complex design, animation, special effects or clutter. The best way to keep visitors focused on your message is through valuable content, simple layouts, good organisation and immaculate design.
#11. Your site is full of clean-cut men in white t-shirts
There’s nothing more frustrating than clichéd stock imagery. Some stock libraries are great and certainly serve a purpose, but the cheesy ones depicting a world of smiling white families, happy-go-lucky employees and men in cheap business suits shaking hands make me want to throw my coffee at the screen. A solution to this? On-brand, unique images (yours) and graphics are just as important as a working contact form and good grammar (perfect grammar in fact).
#12. Your site is leading me on a wild goose chase.
When a person comes to your site you want them to know what to do next. Alright, maybe they’re suspicious of your stock photo choices, or perhaps your template format really grinds their gears. But visitors may be able to look past those things if they can immediately understand your websites purpose, the value they get out of it, and what they need to do next.
If all else fails. Ask yourself this question: Can the average Jo-Blow use your website? If you’re unsure, ask the least tech-savvy person you know to take it for a test-run and give you some feedback.
If you’re currently hiding underneath your desk in silent mortification at the harsh reality of your current website conundrum, don’t reach for the bottle just yet! Simply start by adopting some of the tips above, taking baby steps towards maintaining your online presence – this goes for Social Media too. Begin by tackling the points you know to be within your budget and resources, and jot down a plan of attack (and follow through) to leave those pixelated, bulky nightmares behind you and nothing beautiful engaging browsers lie ahead. It won’t happen overnight…
Check out this article from Marketing Mag for more great hints.
Jack and the c word crew