1. It looks amateur and/or is out of date
Unfortunately, books do get judged by their covers and website design is no exception. A website poorly designed not only means your customers cannot find the information they are looking for, but the difference between a quality site and one that is amateur and/or out of date will undoubtedly give the wrong impression.
You need a website that wows customers upon arrival, but also portrays the values of your business – no doubt high quality, discerning, informative and relevant.
Together, we can find examples of websites you like the look of and analyse why this might be – maybe start with the sites you use the most – after-all, you use them the most for a reason. Notice the colour schemes, the fonts, how the information is arranged. Maybe a sleek menu design or animated elements that pop out as you scroll. By brainstorming in this way we’ll start to build a picture of what you want your site to look like. A popular idea is to browse the websites of some of the worlds largest brands or leaders in your industry. Apple or Microsoft for example have their sites designed by world-class in-house designers which may provide modern and well designed inspiration.
2. Your website is poorly built
No matter what your website looks like on the surface, if it’s not built properly then what’s going on behind the scenes can be just as damaging. Websites are so complex there are far too many ramifications to list them all here, but a few that come to mind include: messy code slowing your site down, broken links that will interrupt browsing, out of date software causing security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues with modern browsers and tablets/mobiles, and last but most definitely not least – search engines won’t like it.
Every website I build is built on the worlds most popular platform – Wordpress – a platform that powers 30% of the worlds websites (including this website). On top of Wordpress, I use only the latest versions of industry leading plugins, hosted on servers from one of the best in the business.
3. Your website is not mobile or tablet friendly
This is a combination of the design and build. A website that looks good and operates well on a big screen needs to do the same on a tablet and mobile. In the early days of mobile internet, phones merely displayed a scaled down version of the website. Nowadays, that is not acceptable.
When building a website, I create three versions of each page – one for large monitors, one for tablets and one for mobiles. Every aspect of each page can be individually customised to give your visitors the best possible user experience.
4. Your website is slow
As slow loading websites are major turn-off’s for would-be visitors, Google (rightly so) factors page speed when ranking your site. This means a slow website may not only lose a customer’s interest before they’ve even landed, but is very likely to have a detrimental effect on them finding you in the first place.
The number one factor when it comes to website speed is the hosting. It is a good idea to use as best hosting as you can afford from industry-leading providers. On top of this you’ll need clean and lightweight code. You’ll also want to optimise all images and video as these are the typically the largest files on a website.
For the more technical readers – you should consider use of a CDN, data caching and lazy loading pages.
Every website I build is hosted with SiteGround. Their servers are lightning quick, secure, reliable and are used by over 1.5 million websites worldwide. And if that wasn’t enough – they are an officially recommended hosting provider by WordPress themselves!
5. You have no SSL Certificate
Since July 2018, Google has been marking sites without SSL certificates as “non-secure”. This is not good for those caught short and there have been many high profile cases of major websites falling foul of this.
An SSL certificate, brute force protection, server level malware protection and more are all included as standard on the websites I build.
6. You have poor or no SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
In the early days of search engines, website owners could trick them into thinking their site was relevant by just having more mention of the same keywords. This, unsurprisingly, led very quickly into gaming the system.
One common technique was to have keywords over and over again in the same colour font as the page background so the search engine crawler would pick up the words but the viewer wouldn’t see them (think white text on a white background). Nowadays, this doesn’t wash.
Google’s algorithms are hyper-sophisticated, so whilst the exact algorithms are tightly held secrets, there are SEO best practices that can go a long way in helping get you higher up the organic search results.
Ultimately, the goal is to have a website that is relevant and useful to visitors.
To help with how Google views your website, I install Yoast Premium on every website I build. Yoast is the world’s leading SEO plugin and is packed with features such as keyword optimisation; Google, Facebook and Twitter previews of your pages; readability checks for all copy; sitemap management, and much more.
Sidenote: Be VERY wary of firms guaranteeing to get you “onto page X” or “into position Y.” At best they are misleading you, and at worst they are employing dodgy tactics that when you get found out may result in your site being blacklisted.
On-page SEO is just one aspect of what should be an overall SEO strategy for your business. I am currently putting together a short guide to SEO. If you’d like a copy once it is finished, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “SEO”.