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Ten Basic mistakes new website owners make.

People who design their first websites make many elementary mistakes, The worst of which I am going to discuss below. These are the top ten things that new siteowners don't take into account.

1. They don't take advice from experts in the arena before deciding what they want or need.

The problem here is not really the fault of the website owner. It can be ascribed to lack of knowledge and experience. They assume that the person advising them about their website actually has a clue. There are way too many so called webdesigners that have learnt how to use a WYSIWYG programme like FRONTPAGE or DREAMWEAVER. They don't have any real experience starting off building a site for a friend and then a second, a third and then they start calling themselves Web Design Professionals. I saw an advert from one claiming a passion for the subject. The work produced was so bad, my teenage daughter could have done as well. Just because someone has designed a few websites does not mean they know what they are doing. Here are a few questions to ask of your designer before committing to the contract.
  • What effect do metatags have on my website and the search engine ranking?

  • How can I structure my content to ensure good serach engine placement?

  • How can I speed up the download time of my website?

  • Can I just put up my brochure and should I do that?
The answers you get will determine the efficacy and depth of knowledge your expert can bring to bear. The answers I will deal with in other articles.

2. They get print designers to design their websites

Print design and webdesign are two totally different skills. Some print designers may be able to make the crossover but not many. They use software differently, they use different techniques. Your print designer may be able to offer some of the graphic design elements, but putting them onto the page in the optimal format is generally not their forte. Web design is not just knowing how to put a few pictures on a page. Knowledge of how the site will interact with users, the search engines and browsers is essential.

3. They get free hosting services with adverts on the top

Free hosting is not the way to go. It is absolutely not the way to prove how professional your business is. Advertising someone elses business and having no control over the adverts can be embarrassing. Having a domain like http://freewebs.com/elisebiddle is formost saying two things.
  • I am too cheap to spend a few bucks on my own domain.

  • I am not serious about my business, maybe I am a fly by night operation

4. They don't use the power of networks when offered to them

I am not sure how some people's thought processes work. They get a package that includes a network of outbound and inbound links. The first thing they want to do is shut down the outbound links because they are going to lose custom. On the content builder system as it currently stands you will have 15 outbound links to fresh content. 15 links to the latest blogs in the system. At present every time you place a blog on your website it is automatically advertised on 38 other websites in the system. The system has been in place for a few weeks only and is growing week by week. Free advertising on many sites in exchange for a few adverts on yours. Seems like a good deal to me. Looking at statistics on trafficdepartment.co.za and one of the member sites yesterday made me realise How good this is. 40 people left trafficdepartment.co.za and went to heavenleigh.co.za in the last 11 days. Traffic department had 517 visitors in that period and a full 1/3 of the visitors to heavenleigh can be attributed to the link from traffic department. Another 32 links from internal sites within the system added about 25% of heavenleigh's traffic. Traffic department gained about 7 visitors from heavenleigh, and about 75 from all the sites in the system. I know trafficdepartment gets more than it receives but the figures will change when we have a larger number of sites. Build networks people.

5. They don't understand the need for speed.

I regularly visit sites that are so slow that I leave before viewing any information. I went to a freewebs site this morning and waited 4 minutes before the data became available. I waited because I needed to know how slow that site was. You have 3 seconds according the latest polls before people move on. Why waste your opportunities? Optimise your websites.

6. They place brochureware websites

A Brochure is not a website. It's an email that remains unsent. Having a site with contact details only, means you lose. People are on the web looking for information. Give them information or else they will go to your opposition who gives them the information. Guess who they will buy from.

7. They don't take Search Engine marketing into account

This one you cannot really blame on the client. The clients just don't have the information so they get websites built that can never rank. They have sites that when spidered by the Serach engines, the crawlers just label as a waste of time. Take the search engines and your users into account when you put together your website.

8. They think just having a website is enough

Cheapest advertising I have ever done, I have heard websites referred to. Sadly if you want to say that you will probably get the same results you do from your classified ads. Having a website gives you responsibility. It gives you power, but you cannot use the the 4 P method of marketing and think its going to work. The 4 P method for those of you that don't know is:
  • Put it up

  • Put it on the business card

  • Put up your feet

  • Pray

9. They don't take their corporate identity into account with the design

It does not matter how small your business is, you need a brand and that brand should be consistent. If your cards are one colour, your website another and every advert looks different, you are not serious about your business. IF you are not taking your own business seriously, don't expect your clients to. Branding can be expensive but it need not be. Pick a colour and stick with it. Make a logo, hell, even use clipart, but use it on everything. Branding is about sending a message and reinforcing it. If you keep changing your image nobody will recognise it.

10. They don't consider the importance of good navigation

Navigation. It's this simple, if I need to use the back key to look for something, your navigation sucks. Keep it constant, keep it available. Don't make your user look for something.

Posted by: Guy McLaren - http://www.guaranteedsouthafrican.co.za

 

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