better website

5 Mistakes to Avoid For A Better Website11 min read

As a professional web development company, we here at Sharp Innovations have always considered it to be our responsibility to deliver the best possible website to our clients and their visitors. That doesn’t mean changing them by loading them with added features or contracting to provide them with top-dollar marketing services at all cost; it means providing quality above all else. That sounds like a sales pitch, but it is a philosophy. In truth, it means sometimes telling a client something they don’t want to hear or at least something they do not expect. Most of the time, we steer clients towards proper website standards and practices, but a few times, we have to steer them away from mistakes that can cost them SEO value and visitors. Here are a few mistakes you should avoid as a website owner.

Losing Your Brand

Companies and organizations spend years establishing their brand. It often starts with a name and a logo, expanding into marketing materials and sometimes finer details such as fonts and color schemes. No matter how small, these elements are essential to a brand identity as long as they stay consistent throughout your materials. Your website is the most critical place for your brand as it is where your clients, consumers, and general visitors will look for you most of the time. 

A company’s brand is its most valuable asset, embodying its identity, values, and customer promise. The importance of a company’s brand cannot be overstated, as it serves as the foundation upon which all business activities are built. A strong brand differentiates a company from its competitors and fosters trust, loyalty, and consumer recognition.

Moreover, a company’s brand is instrumental in building trust and credibility. In today’s crowded marketplace, consumers are inundated with choices, making it essential for companies to stand out as trustworthy and reliable. A well-defined brand that consistently delivers on its promises helps to instill confidence in customers, fostering long-term relationships based on mutual respect and loyalty.

Additionally, a strong brand serves as a powerful marketing tool, driving customer acquisition and retention. A compelling brand story and image capture attention, spark interest, and generate positive associations that motivate consumers to choose one company over another. Brand recognition and loyalty can significantly impact purchasing decisions, increasing sales and market share for the company.

With all that being said, keep your website from losing its brand. Make sure it is a large part of your site. Ensure your site shares its logo, colors, and everything else you share with your brand. Stay in the same direction as your brand and create a different identity. Be loyal to your brand in every aspect of your site, and your visitors will recognize you.

Not Saying What You Mean

Not saying what you mean sounds as simple as it is. Marketing professionals will tell clients about it all the time. When it comes to your content, the description of your services, or simply speaking about your company or organization, it is essential to be concise and to the point. Sometimes, it is easy to get swept up by trying to sound bigger, more fantastic, and exciting when talking about who you are and what you do. That is normal when you are a passionate and driven professional. The problem is that the more passion you put into your words, the more meaning can be lost. 

Here is a fictional example. A flower shop offers a variety of bouquets for many occasions. This description is simple and to the point, but they feel it does not provide enough impact or “grabs enough attention.” The shop begins embellishing its text and grabs a thesaurus to reform its content into new descriptions and text. Pretty soon, they are a botanical emporium with many arrangements and a tickled varietal group for any passion. That sounds bigger, but it needs more of its original meaning and simple explanation that visitors and search engines latch onto.

This simple concept doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express your passion for what you do. Saying what you mean is a concept where you explain your business or group as clearly as possible and use terms that describe exactly who you are. Don’t replace vital keywords and apt descriptions with fluff and filler. If you want to be more poetic, ensure it comes after your clear descriptions and make it shorter and farther between. Visitors and search engines will reward you for it.

No Calls-To-Action

Your website may have plenty of great content ready to be indexed by search engines and found by plenty of valuable visitors. As we previously discussed, if you know how to say what you mean, this rich content could include clear and visible information about your services, products, and more. Your content may be well done, but none of that will matter if it doesn’t allow your visitors to contact you the moment they are interested.

When you capture a visitor’s interest, you should allow them to contact you by several means. This will include a phone number, email/contact forms, and social media. However, if visitors are comfortable contacting you, they should have that means. The harder it is for them to make contact, the more likely the chances they give up and go elsewhere. Please only allow that interested visitor to slip away if they can find a way to connect.

Start with the most simple contact information, such as a primary phone number and a means to email you, preferably a link to a contact form. Contact forms are always preferable over email addresses on your site because your email can be crawled and farmed for spam lists. Include these items in your header and your footer for ease of access. These simple additions to your site give visitors quick access to contact you, sometimes as soon as they find your site.  

Next, try to add more accessible ways to contact you. Make it easy to find contact forms and information. Make your forms as concise as possible; make them a smooth process for visitors to complete. Include a short contact form on your homepage. If your physical address is essential, such as a store or meeting space, include a small Google map or a link to a map so visitors can quickly get directions. At the very least, include a “Contact Us” link in your main menu if it is not dominant somewhere else in your header. On your Contact Us page, include all necessary contact information, including individual staff contacts, operating hours, and other essential details about getting a hold of you and your team.

Finally, throughout your site’s content, include a call-to-action link whenever you can engage a visitor’s interest in contacting you. This is typically at the end of your content or a critical point. Including a CTA on every page is a good idea, as it helps visitors engage after every piece of information. At the same time, make your CTA links noticeable. Styled buttons will stand out more than simple text links. Try not to be too redundant with your contact links, but if you mention “contact us” in your text, link it back to your contact page.  

PDFs As Content

Many website owners start building a website with content already in hand. This content is often in the form of brochures, one-sheets, flyers, and other documents in PDF format. This can be a great start and frequently contains important brand identity information and copy that would be vital to kick off a new site. A problem emerges when website owners add these PDFs to their website instead of translating the content to the site.

We can understand why this occurs. Adding the PDF to the site seems simple: add and call it a day. Why create more work and extra time? Sometimes, you want your visitors to download the PDF for later use, like fillable forms. These reasons are sound, but there is a lot to be missed.

First and foremost, not using PDF content directly on your site deprives you of valuable content. PDFs cannot be indexed, and search engines need help finding their content. The PDFs on your site might be invisible. It may take less time to move the content from the PDF to the page; thank you and think, along with the style and branding. The key is to leave all this valuable content in a file.

Second, you force your visitors to open your content outside your website. This will vary from user to user, depending on their browser settings. Most will open the PDF in a separate browser window. Some will download the file to their computer and open it with a PDF reader they have installed. Either way, this needs to be clarified and more manageable. At the same time, every reader, from browser to program, opens PDFs differently. Some may read the PDF differently than others. You run the risk of your PDF failing or getting distorted. If the content is on a page, you have more control.

Third, don’t assume your PDF content can’t become website content. More importantly, don’t assume it is easier for your visitors to use PDFs. A fillable PDF form is not necessarily more effortless than a website form. An online form gives you more options for contact, is more accessible to update, and is easier to access via a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. Giving visitors more access to your forms gives them more access to you.

Lastly, PDFs are not always accessible. They can be, and efforts can be made to make them accessible. Still, more often than not, they are left as is, and it is difficult for assistive technology to have a difficult time reading them. Please don’t ignore this critical detail, as more and more websites rely on accessibility to accommodate their visitors.

Flashy Gimmicks

Finally, we will talk about something I harshly call “gimmicks.” It may be too harsh a term for flashy, fun, exciting site features that seem impressive when you first see them. You may have encountered them on your own, or a developer showed them to you along with a hefty price tag. Being impressed by these features and wanting them on your website is fine. However, it would be best to look at the big picture before implementing them.

First, let us consider some particularly egregious examples. These might include big animations, such as ones that eat up bandwidth pre-loading before your site is available. This might be a large video. It may be impressive and well put together. At first glance, such features could “wow” your visitors. But there are two problems with their use that you should consider:

  1. They put time between your visitors and your site. It may only be a few seconds, but a few seconds is all it takes for someone to steer away or lose interest. No matter how attractive the animation is, some users won’t see the value, and your website is where the value is.
  2. That animation or video will likely consume resources and take time to load. Visitors with slower internet will find it skips and slowly loads, hurting your performance.

If visitors want to return to your website repeatedly, that flashy gimmick will wear thin.

If they have to load something before they can access your information or products, they will not bother to come back.

The bottom line is to avoid gimmicks. Their appeal is “gone in a flash,” and you’ll end up paying for something you want to remove soon after. If you wish for visual appeal, try a new, fresh design or stick with more subtle, modern animation techniques that will keep your performance and retain your visitors. A good developer can steer you toward plenty of sunny visual options.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

Rather than viewing these mistakes as something you may or may have yet to do, you should view these as opportunities to improve your site. Sometimes, website owners get steered in the wrong direction by developers who care more about profit than quality. In some cases, people have yet to consult a professional. Work with developers who have you and, more importantly, your visitor’s best interests and heart to make your website more effective. At Sharp Innovations, we can help correct these mistakes as a refresh or from the ground up. If you are interested in a website makeover, contact us!

Our team at Sharp Innovations has many years of experience in all manner of web development and digital marketing techniques, and we are dedicated to building the very best website for our clients and their visitors! Contact us today to see how we can help you transform your web presence for the better.