7 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website
If you are going to be successful with any type of online business, then you need to have a great website. This may seem obvious to some of you but there are some really terrible websites out there and I am sure the owners are not as profitable as they could be!
Your website is normally the first time a visitor will see you so it pays to make a good impression. If you are technically minded this may not be a daunting task for you.
However, the majority of people get put off by the technical aspects of setting up a website and there are a lot of mistakes that you can make. And this is why I wrote this article covering 7 of the most common (and most serious) problems that you may come across when building your website.
Hopefully this article will help you to avoid them and get a great looking website up and running with as little drama as possible, so without further ado, let’s get started…
1: Bad Hosting
The first website stumbling block is… BAD HOSTING
Oh yes, I’ve seen bad web hosting happen to good people. Don’t let it happen to you!
Website Hosting Quality
There’s a level of quality you must expect from a web hosting company and there are some very popular programs out there that don’t live up to that quality. Just because everyone registers their domain name at GoDaddy, it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for hosting your website!
Bad hosting becomes a major stumbling block when problems come up, but solutions are hard to find. Like most services you’ll buy and need help with, customer support is key. Some companies are great at customer support while others are not.
I know when you’re new to this whole process it’s hard to know what companies to trust and who to bring your business too. That’s why it’s so important to education yourself. I recommend a combination of self-education and looking for recommendations from trusted colleagues to decide on a website host for your small business.
Features Of A Good Website Hosting Company
Of course it’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for, so here’s a checklist of website hosting features.
- Good Price– Of course price is going to be a big consideration but PLEASE don’t make it your only one. Also don’t make the mistake of thinking that free hosting is the way to go. Hosting is so affordable that you have absolutely no excuses for not just considering a cost of doing business on the internet. Hosting is commonly available from about $5-$10 per month.
- Get cPanel — cPanel is a great way to get access all the popular features without hassle. cPanel is a program that allows you to manage your hosting services in a user-friendly way. Your hosting account contains many features such as the ability to add email accounts, check your website statistics, install special programs on your site, backup your files and much, much more. Without cPanel these features can seem overwhelming and difficult to use. With cPanel it’s nicely organized and ready to go!
- Get Fantastico or Simple Scripts — Another feature of a good host is the ability to install ‘add-ons’ to your account. These add-ons can be WordPress installations, membership forums, and more.
- Software Upgrades & Backups — If you install your software and it gets out of date that can be a security issue. Make sure your potential host keeps up to date on upgrades and backups.
- Email Included — Most hosting accounts come with unlimited email account setup.
- Responsive Support — This could likely be the most important feature. Top-notch customer support is priceless. Make sure the host company you choose allows you to get your problems and issues solved quickly and easily. Most companies offer 24–7 phone support, I recommend you accept no less from your host.
- Excellent Uptime — You want your site seen as often as possible. Make sure the uptime is as high as possible.
- Statistics Tracking — Know where your visitors came from and how many landed on your site is important. Many hosts include quality statistics tracking for you to do on-demand market research.
IMPORTANT TIP — Over the years I’ve set up more websites than I can count for clients. One of the biggest self-created problems I’ve seen is website owners not knowing their own hosting and domain registration information.
If you get only one thing from this lesson get this –>>> Make sure you know your website hosting information. Save it somewhere safe!
Switching To A New Hosting Company
If you’re reading through the checklist above and finding that your current host is a sorry excuse for a hosting company then it’s probably time to switch. The first question you’re probably going to ask is whether this is difficult.
Well, the answer is maybe, maybe not. If you currently have a site setup in WordPress (which I highly recommend) then you’re going to need to move all your site files and your database.
What to Do Next — Step Over That BLOCK
So now that you’re equipped with some knowledge it’s time to take action. Don’t let your hosting be a stumbling block for long… it’s time to step right over it.
Don’t have website hosting? It’s time to go sign up for one!
Remember I said to take recommendations from trusted colleagues? Well I hope by now you’ve realized that my goal is to be a trusted colleague to YOU and provide you with valuable resources for your business.
2: Hard To Read
The second website stumbling block is… CONTENT THAT’S HARD TO READ
Make Your Website Easy To Read
Nothing turns a new visitor away faster than having to work hard to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. There are a lot of ways you can actually mess up your content’s readability, so let’s do the run-down of things not to do when designing a website you want people to read:
- Offensively Bright Colors — I had a client who loved using bright yellow highlights on text, blood-red bolded headlines and pink and blue text sprinkled in for good measure. It was an assault on the eyes! Please for the love of good design don’t add random colors and hope that alone will make people read your content. Catching the eye with a well-placed highlight is one thing, bombing your content with color is another.
- Not Enough Contrast — As a good rule I like black text on a white background. Our eyes are so accustomed to this format that it’s something I prefer not to mess with. If you choose to go with a color or even a black background, a word of caution; be careful that your text is read-able by making sure the contrast between your background and your content is strong.
- Hard to Read Fonts — I’m a big fan of typography but there’s a time and a place for fancy fonts. As I was browsing sites the other day, I came across a website that had all handwriting font. It was very difficult to read. There are many great fonts to use on your website but choose wisely and make sure they are easy to read. Limit your script type fonts to short headlines.
- No/Messy Formatting — Think about formatting as you add your content. WordPress has great features for formatting your content to make it look great: bullet-point lists, numbered lists, blockquotes, bolding and italics. Oh and don’t forget to break your content up by creating new paragraphs and headlines.
Above All, Remember Your Readers
The most important thing to remember above the extra details and the fancy fonts is that your readers don’t really care all that much.
Mostly your readers want the content they’re looking for and if you can deliver that to them, you are doing a good job.
3: You Don’t Know Your Audience!
The third website stumbling block is… MAKING A WEBSITE FOR YOU AND NOT YOUR MARKET
Mark My Words — Your Website is NOT For You…
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen websites built purely to fulfil a need to make something awesome for the person who’s building it.
Let me not mince words here: Your website is NOT FOR YOU, it’s for your visitors.
Sure you might like your black background and white font because it’s cool, but is it easy to READ?? Not likely. So are you trying to turn people away or do you just not care if you get visitors who like your site?
Please build your site with your potential customers and clients in mind! Check your EGO at the ‘virtual’ door and completely shift your mindset.
Don’t assume everyone who knows your business will know who you are or what your business is, assume they know nothing about you and don’t really care anyway… assume they’re asking themselves ‘What’s in it for ME?’… because they ARE asking themselves that.
Here are some tips to make sure you flip that thinking around and start building your site for your visitors, not yourself:
- Is It Readable? — So you like that fancy font because it’s pretty, but can we read it? Or you like a black background because it’s ‘different’ but are your visitors going googly-eyed trying to read the words on the screen (white font on a black background can be VERY hard on the eyes!). Make sure your visitors can read it and read it comfortably, and you’ll be giving yourself a much greater chance they’re return to read again.
- Is It Scannable? — Don’t assume your visitors are going to read every word from top to bottom before they figure out if they’re going to stick around your site. Make sure with an easy scan of the site that they can figure out what it’s about. Repeat yourself! Don’t assume because you’ve hidden the information away in a little corner they’re going to dig in and find it, put important items up front and center.
- Is It ART or MARKETING? — I’ve seen some pretty useless ‘pretty’ sites! Please don’t make the mistake of favoring form over function! I’d rather see you with a black and white, bare bones site with tons of useful content than a beautiful but useless site that people come look at and leave again because they thought it was pretty but didn’t know what to do next. Look I’m not against awesome-looking marketing but make sure you don’t use up all your energy on the artistic part and none on the marketing part.
- Who Are You Trying to Impress??? — It drives me bonkers when I see website owners get caught up in making impressive displays that they somehow think will ‘wow’ their visitors into buying. Your visitors are not looking to be entertained or bowled over by your impressive site, they just have a need and if you can solve it, they’ll be happy to pay you. PLEASE don’t forget what you’re doing when building your website and stop trying to impressive with ‘flashy’ stuff… get them the goods they need (or want), and you’ll make more sales!
4: Hard To Navigate Sites
The fourth website stumbling block is… SITES THAT MAKE IT HARD TO FIND STUFF
Website Navigation is VERY Important
Have you ever looked at a great big corn maze and thought: “No, Not Today!” That’s just what many of your website visitors are going to say if you make them work through a maze of information to find what they’re looking for. They’ll fast-track it out of there before you can convince them it’s worth the effort.
Don’t make your site hard to navigate! Make it EASY for them to find the content they need. I’ve mentioned this before but it’s OK to repeat yourself when it comes to showing people the way to important content on your site.
If you WANT them to see your important pages, don’t assume they’re scouring every word on your site; assume they WON’T and put links in multiple spots, so they’ll come across them as they scan.
In terms of making your site easy to get through here are some ways to do that:
- Navigation Menu — A very common feature on many websites is the navigation menu. It is usually a bar across the very top of the site, below the website header graphic. It can be also in the sidebar or on the bottom of the site (as it is on these Stumbling Block pages).
- Links In Content — If you have one page that leads to another, then make it really obvious where to go next by telling your visitors what page to go to! Just tell them right at the bottom of the page to click on over to the next one.
- Breadcrumb Navigation — If you have multiple levels of pages a breadcrumb navigation is like a trail back to the homepage for your visitors. If you use WordPress, you can find several plugins that will automatically generate this for you.
- Don’t Complicate It — It’s not always a good idea to post every single page of your site on the homepage and then ask people to choose where to go. You must lead them through or you’re going to make it too complicated and confusing for them. If you give people too many choices, they will often choose none!
- Ask a Seven-Year-Old — Can a seven-year-old navigate your site and figure out what it’s about? If not, you might want to go back to the drawing board. Seriously! It should be that easy for people to figure out what your site is about and where to find the good stuff. We’re not looking to create a puzzle… keep it simple!
Overall you want your visitors to be able to easily navigate your site, consume the content and then either become a lead or buy from you.
We’ll talk about these important pieces in our remaining stumbling blocks so check them out in the navigation to the right (see what I did there)
5: Waiting For Traffic
The fifth website stumbling block is… THINKING “If your build it, they will come” WORKS FOR WEBSITES (it doesn’t!)
Traffic Must Be Funnelled to Your Website!
Let’s say you’ve built your site and it’s ready for visitors. Now you sit and wait for them to start filing in, right? WRONG!
If you want people to know your website exists, you must go out and TELL THEM SO. This isn’t a time to be shy or coy, straight out promote the heck out of that site by spreading the worth that it’s online and sending people on over to check it out.
There are plenty of ways to do this so you can pick your favorites. They include:
- SEO — Get your site into the search engines and get found when people do searches.
- Email Marketing — Build an email list and then send that list to your site. It’s a classic!
- Social Media Marketing — Of course you know this one… Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.
- Articles & Blog Posts — Get your content published on other websites and linked back to your site.
- Blog Commenting — Many popular blogs have tons of traffic. You can get a piece of that by posting comments with useful info.
- YouTube — If you feel like getting in front of the camera or doing screenshare videos with a program like Camtasia then you can pull some nice traffic from YouTube.
- Podcasting — Get found through Podcast directories, iTunes, etc.
- Hosting Webinars or Teleseminars — You can partner with website owners to grab some of their traffic by hosting an event that they can send their people to.
- Affiliates — Set up your own affiliate program and you’ll get partners sending you traffic and sales.
I know you want your website to be seen by as many eyeballs as possible so get on out there and promote that baby!
Good luck and happy traffic building.
6: Trapped By Your Website Designer
The sixth website stumbling block is… becoming trapped with a website you can never update or edit.
When Hiring a Website Designer, Be Smart, PLEASE!
I’ve seen it far too often with my customers and clients. They’ve hiring a website designer to build a fantastic site and the site looks awesome.
But what now? They have NO way to update it, NO idea how to do it and NO clue what to do next. So what they end up doing in many cases is starting over and using WordPress so they have a website they can actually use.
In the worst of these cases a website design company uses ‘proprietary’ software to build your website and you are completely trapped into staying with them or losing your website all together.
Be VERY careful when you hire someone to build your website that they are not trapping you into relying on them entirely for now and for the future.
One of the smartest things you can do for your online business is to learn how to control your own website. I firmly believe if you have that full control over your web presence you will be MUCH more successful.
Running a business requires you to react and respond quickly. Maintaining your own website will keep you on top of the market you’ve chosen to serve.
Another important reason to at LEAST know how to USE your site is that you can hire the right people for the job. Let’s say you’re not the DIY type (and that’s OK) and you really need to hire a website designer.
It is a smart idea for you to first learn the basics of building a website so that you know how to spot trouble before you hire it!
7: Not Enough Content
The seventh website stumbling block is… not giving your visitors (and the search engines) enough content to decide they want to do business with you.
Content is Your #1 Tool For Getting Leads & Sales
A big mistake many new website owners make is thinking that they can put up four or five pages on a website and use them to build a thriving online business. For the most part you’re going to need a whole lot more than that to get ongoing online profits.
There are many types of content you can use to grow your business, including:
- Website pages & articles.
- Blog posts.
- Email newsletters, broadcasts & autoresponders.
You might be wondering how you’ll make money if you decide to give away tons of content for free. It’s a great question and the answer is that people will NOT buy from you at all if they can’t see the value in what they offer.
They can get that value from the free content you give away and they are more likely than not to be impressed to know where they can find more, learn more, hear more.
The key to giving away free content is to always have something to follow it. Some people might tell you to never give away your best stuff but I don’t agree. Sometimes you want to give away the very best of what you have so you can really impress your potential market.
If you only give away mediocre stuff, do you really expect they’ll be overjoyed and wondering where they can get more?
By the way, if you are serious and want to take your blogging to the next level, check out the Rapid Blogging Blueprint. This is a premium level training that takes you through each and every step of setting up your own highly profitable blog and profiting from it. You can check it out here.
Throughout this training I have told you about using WordPress for your website and its many benefits. As a content manager, WordPress is known as one of the very best available. Let me tell you what WordPress can do for your content:
- Easily add new pages for articles or product information.
- Create sales pages to sell your products from. (see an example here for my WordPress course)
- Easily create blog posts to provide potential search engine rankings or attract new business.
- Schedule blog posts into the future so you can have your site working for you, even when you’re not working!
- Add audio and video to your site with ease.
- Allow guest authors to post on your site with their own login information or create a multi-author blog for your business.
- Easily enhance your content with images.
I’ve dedicated a large chunk of my time to helping small business owners like you learn how to use WordPress to grow their business.
I hope it will help you avoid many of the mistakes that I and many others have made along the way to building a successful online business.
If you want to know more about increasing conversions in your business, check out the featured resource below to grab a free report which will teach you how to boost your conversion rate. Download, read it, and take action 🙂