Sunday, 5 May 2013

Ten reasons why your website isn't working

Is your website working as well as it could?

Previously I have talked about website content and SEO on this blog. However, the appearance and functionality of your website is equally important.

Here are ten reasons why your website may not be working as well as it could be.

1. Your website takes too long to load

So your website loads pretty quickly on your super-fast, fibre-optic broadband, but what about on lower-speed services?

I live in the country and my broadband speed is only 1—2 megabytes per second. How long would I need to wait for your site to load?

If a visitor has to wait too long, they may just give up, go back to the Google results and try a different link. 

Of all the material on your website, images and media have the largest file sizes and can increase loading time. So if you have a fancy Flash intro, video introduction or lots of large, unoptimised photos, these could be costing you visitors.

To reduce your loading time, look at optimising your images. Use .GIF files for logos and images with only a few colours, .JPEG files for photographs and images with lots of colours and .PNG files for transparent images.

Also resize your images to the exact pixel dimensions you need. This will cut down the file sizes and make them quicker to load.

2. Your home page doesn't explain what you do

This may seem obvious, yet there are many websites out there with home pages that lack this basic information or make it too complicated to understand.

Be clear about what you are offering and explain it simply, so everyone can understand it. Avoid using technical jargon or acronyms that the majority of people may not know.

3. Your text is difficult to read

Reading text on a computer screen is not always the easiest thing to do, so why make it harder for your visitors?

Common text mistakes include long lines of text that span the entire screen; difficult colour combinations, such as red text on a blue background; text placed over the top of an image; and huge blocks of text with no paragraph breaks.

Arrange your text into narrower columns to improve readability. A maximum of 8—10 words per line is recommended for easy reading.

For long passages of text use dark text on a light background. Black or grey on white always works well. Avoid using text on top of images as this will make your readers have to work much harder.

Break your text down into manageable paragraphs and use headings. Not only do headings improve your SEO, they also make your text appear less daunting and easier to read.

4. Your navigation is confusing

Your navigation should guide your visitors, either through your site in a logical order or, straight to the information they need. 

If it is not possible to list all your pages along the top of your site or down one side, think about categorising your information under relevant headings. If this is still not possible, consider putting extra links in logical places throughout the site.

5. Important information is not easy to find

Ideally your visitor should be able to find exactly what they are looking for within three clicks. Try this for yourself. Can you get to any page of your website within three clicks?

If not, you may want to consider adding some extra links at logical places along the way.

6. Your use of images is random or confusing

Remember that the person viewing your site will be looking at it with very different eyes to your own. Does what they see really represent who you are or explain what you do?

Images can complement your content and help to visually explain what you do — if you use them correctly.

7. Your use of stock images is off-putting

Stock images are readily available and easy to use. The photography is often better than you could produce yourself and much cheaper than hiring a professional. This is why so many websites use them — mine included.

Be careful, however. Stock images can also be tacky and may not always show your company in the best light.

Take, for example, the endless shots of perfect, attractive business people in ultra modern skyscraper offices. Do these really represent you?

Unless you are actually working for a billion-dollar firm in the middle of Manhattan, visitors to your website might see these shots as fake and insincere — maybe even that you have something to hide.

8. You don't have a clear call to action

The call to action is the thing that prompts your visitors to do the thing you most want them to do.

For example, you might want them to sign up to your newsletter, buy a product or get in touch with you.

I have talked about the importance of a strong call to action on this blog before. If you missed it, you can find the full article here

9. You have broken links

Broken links are links that either don't go anywhere, go to the wrong page or bring up an error 404 page. These links show a lack of attention to detail on your part, and they drive your visitors crazy!

Check your links regularly and update them if necessary, especially if you have recently been working on your site.

10. Your website needs updating

Your website's content and general appearance can make you or break you when it comes to your visitors.

Update your content regularly to show that you are actively using your site. Avoid using, or linking to, outdated content. And, if your website hasn't had a redesign in a while, it might be worth looking at current trends and giving it a makeover.

Does your website need some TLC? Do you need some help to explain, in simple terms, exactly what you do? Do you need some help sourcing appropriate images for your site?

If so, please get in touch. I am an experienced SEO copywriter and creative communicator with a wealth of experience in communications that could make your website work for you.

1 comment:

  1. A professional SEO writer knows that it takes interesting content that will keep the reader pressing on. When someone comes to the internet, they are looking for something in particular. They normally want to know something fast, and they want to be able to read it in clear language they can understand. See more website writing services