Avoid This #1 Mistake in Building Your Website

What’s the number one thing business owners do wrong when it comes to building their websites?

Starting without a plan. Not having a clear marketing strategy overall for their business, and what role, exactly, their website needs to play.

But it’s easy to do. Even though I know better, late on a Friday afternoon last October I decided that my own website looked embarrassingly out of date. With no major plans (i.e. high school/middle school sporting events) for the weekend and cold rain in the forecast, I dove in to give the site a makeover. After an entire weekend spent coding out a new site, I stepped back to admire my work.

And realized that I had totally bombed. I had a pretty picture, but no call to action. I had revamped my online portfolio, but left no clear path leading site visitors to it, or letting them know the logical next step. While the look of the site and my portfolio pages were usable, I had to start over on the structure and outline for the rest of the site. Wasted effort, when I could’ve been curled up by the fire reading a book. (If you’re a business owner, you know how rare those days are!)

Building a website without a plan is like walking into a builder’s office and telling the owner, “Here’s some money; build me a structure.”

You could end up with four bedrooms, three baths, and a two-car garage … or an office building … or the most expensive treehouse in your town. If you don’t know what you want when you begin, there’s no telling what you’ll have in the end.

A website works like any other project: begin with the end in mind.

Your website has the ability and power to be your marketing superstar.

What role does your website play in your marketing strategy?

  • It could be the place where your products live online (i.e. – your online store). Customers come in, decide what they want, pay for it and products are shipped to them.
  • Or maybe it’s where you bring in prospects, use it as a ‘get to know you’ place and gather their emails and other contact information, like a virtual business card exchange.
  • Or where new clients or patients fill out online forms that are imported straight into your office computer, saving you hours each week of data input.
  • Or, it can be a resource library for your existing clients, with how-to guides, material safety data sheets, and product information.

Your website can be all of these things. Or none of them. Maybe you need something entirely different.

The point is, a website – your website – has the ability and power to be your marketing superstar. It can boost your sales, improve your image, and save you hours of administrative time. If, and only if, you build it to do those things.

Or you can start without a plan, simply going for a cool look, and discover half-way through that you’ve got nothing usable. Best-case scenario, you’ll waste a weekend.

So what’s the first thing you need to do when building your website? Plan where it fits into your marketing strategy, and what you want it to do.

There are plenty of other mistakes I’ve seen over the years. These round out my top ten:

2. Not defining – and knowing – your target audience. Who’s your ideal customer, and what’s the best way to attract them? What do they want from your website?

3. Using the wrong messaging. What are your products or services? What problem does your product or service solve? Address the key reason someone is visiting your website first. Otherwise, you may lose them before you get the chance to explain anything else.

4. Not matching your company’s branding. Your website colors, the fonts you use, even the style of your graphics and images … these are part of your brand. If your customers, clients, and prospects don’t recognize you when they open your website, you’ve done it wrong. And you’ll either lose them or waste valuable time recommunicating who you are.

5. Using bad images. Images that are poor quality or too small scream cheap. Images that are irrelevant or don’t match the rest of your website are confusing. Both make you look unprofessional. On the other hand, few people take the time to select high-quality images that match their brand’s color tone and style – doing this one thing can really help you stand out.

6. Not having a clear call-to-action. This goes back to your marketing plan, and your website’s role within it: what do you want your website visitors to do after they land on your site? Don’t leave it up to chance; lead them where you want them to go.

7. Not providing enough information. Online space is cheap. If someone visits your website in search of information, make sure it’s there – and easy to find.

8. Providing too much information all at once. It’s easy to overload your visitors with information. Don’t cut back on what’s there, just put it into bite-sized chunks that are easy to follow and search through.

9. Designing your website for a desktop. In the U.S. last year (2018), 58% of internet traffic came from mobile devices. So not only should your site look good on your phone, it should load fast and have mobile-friendly navigation, buttons, and links. Otherwise, you’re potentially turning away over 40% of your traffic.

10. Wasting time. Pages that load slow waste your website visitors’ time. Plus, they’re annoying. And they really hurt your search engine optimization (SEO). So make sure your images are optimized, you get rid of unnecessary scripts, fonts, and features, and keep your pages to a manageable size by breaking them into smaller pages when necessary.

If you’re getting ready to build a new website for your company or practice, I hope this information helps. If you need help putting together a plan for your website, let’s talk. For almost 30 years I’ve developed marketing strategies and plans for businesses and organizations, and in the last decade, I’ve personally built over 100 websites.

If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you, call my office at (423) 402-0422 or email me at [email protected].