Well the Internet has been around for a while now and most of us have become a little more experienced when it comes to developing websites. Unfortunately, there are still many businesses that are making some really simple mistakes that ultimately send terrible messages to prospective customers.
In my opinion the following 10 mistakes send the worst possible message and in fact they will drive more customers away than they can ever possibly attract:
1. Your latest blog update is from May 2013
This is a biggie, with so many sites simply having no updated information, especially on their blog. Even worse, the site has really old information - like our workshop is launching on May 5th 2013. It's fair to assume it has launched and is now ancient history. The message this sends is that nothing is really happening in the business, certainly nothing worth taking the time to write about and in fact, if something has happened, the owners couldn't be bothered telling anyone. Nice message.
2. There is nothing about the people who own the business on the site
The first question is why not? Are they afraid of being identified? Perhaps they are on the run from the law? Or is there some other dodgy reason why they don't want their photo on their website? So not having photos of the people behind the business makes many people suspicious of their motives and suspicion is not a good feeling for a prospective customer to have about a business.
3. The copy is pretty much the same as every other business in the same space
Most businesses go to great lengths to tell prospective customers how they are exactly the same as their competitors, not how they are different. This means the same words get used, the same vague promises and the same generic offerings. And they all start out by saying, "we are different", which is code for "we are exactly the same". Tell your story, why you do what you do, don't give bland, beige statements that mean little to the modern, highly selective consumer.
4. There are lots of typos
If there are lots of typos in the copy, the message is that the business is not really good at attention to detail. Now whilst in all likelihood this probably makes no difference to their ability to deliver a great product or service, it sends a dubious message. Would you get brain surgery for surgeon whose website was full of typos? I wouldn't. Rightly or wrongly, lots of typos on a site sends a very negative message and makes a potential customer ask if the business has a similar lack of attention to detail in all that it does?
5. All of the images are corny stock images overused on sites around the world
We all know what these look like. The same corny shaking hands, the same group of people that appear in a million websites, the same lady on the telephone and so on. Using cheap (or free) images really shows a lack of imagination and once shows prospective customers how you are the same as your competitors not how you are different. It also sends the message that your business lacks creativity and vision.
6. In photos the business owners are wearing flares and have perms
Typically this is the site where the business owners talk about their 30 years of experience but their photos make them look like they are 12. Sure, there might be some situations when this could be fun, but generally as customers we want to see a picture of the owner and how they look today, not how they looked when they had hair, or were at their prom.
7. Nothing works on the site
These are the sites that normally take forever to load, but then every item you click on leads to a broken link, or simply doesn't do anything. You fill in a form, and after 9 pages, you press 'send' and it takes you back to the beginning without actually submitting all of the data you've painstakingly worked on for the past hour. These sites drive us insane and they are generally great for losing any potential customer because they are too hard. If you have a site like this, you have to fix it really fast, because every day it is left to its own devices it will cost you business (and of course your site has to be mobile device friendly - that's just a given).
8. You need a Nepalese Sherpa to try and help you navigate the site
These are the sites where the people who have had it built have never actually used it. It is way to complicated, navigation is a nightmare and totally against any human logic, what should take one click takes a dozen and there is no way to go back. Sites like this send the message that this is a business that really doesn't get its customers. They take simple ideas and make them really complicated. Mostly it means they are disconnected from their customers - and no one wants to do business with an organization like this.
9. The site is full of gimmicks
Fortunately these sites are getting fewer and farther between. I'm sure you know the ones, bad music and totally unnecessary music starts to play once the site finally loads, little pop up windows open offering live chat, but there is never anyone there to talk to, or the pop up windows keep coming up and you have to leave details before you can go any further. These sites send one message - dodgy. If that is the message you are aiming for, go for the gimmicks. If not, get rid of everything gimmicky and make the site simple, easy to use and professional looking.
10. There is no video footage
Today if a site doesn't have quality video footage (and I mean quality), it is considered flat or static, and that is a bad thing. We expect video footage, even if we don't watch the videos we are comforted to have them there, because it tells us that the business is modern and progressive, good things for a prospective customer to feel.