Let’s be honest. There are some really bad websites out there.
And, it doesn’t take design from 1997 for your website to reek with mediocrity. All it takes is just a few simple mistakes for your website to blend in with billions of others or stand out for all of the wrong reasons.
If you want people to take your website and your business seriously, then there are a few critical mistakes you must avoid with your website.
Mistake #1: ClichÃ© Terminology
Many websites look okay on the surface until you start reading the copy. That’s where things really start to go downhill.
It doesn’t take long to find websites full of jargon and business cliches. This bland language is unoriginal and will do a poor job of helping your business stand out.
Not sure what I mean?
Here are a few offenders that I’ve seen recently:
- Full-service (i.e. “We’re a full-service _____”)
- Comprehensive solutions
- Business objectives
Thanks to a great conversation over at Google+, here are a few more that folks threw out:
- Cutting edge
- At the end of the day
- Thinking outside the box (or blowing up the box entirely!)
There are a ton more out there. If you’re not sure exactly what qualifies as a clichÃ©, check out this great list.
We tend to lean on clichÃ©s
because they’re easy. But, easy doesn’t make them great vehicles for explaining the work you do.
So, how do you get rid of them?
Take a look at your website. In fact, print off each page of your site and highlight all the jargon and industry-speak.
Then find better, simpler ways to explain each item an replace it on the site. Use metaphors, analogies, descriptions or flat-out plain language. Sometimes, the best way to get the point across is to say it simply.
Mistake #2: Overused Stock Photography
Stock photography is a great and affordable way to add imagery to your website. Unfortunately, it’s easy to resort to tired and boring images that are rampant throughout the web.
Take law firm websites for example, how many times do you see gavels, scales of justice or people in suits shaking hands? A lot.
Because everyone uses those images, it’s hard to make your law firm stand out if you use them too. Instead, include photos of the attorneys in your firm or feature photography that showcases the type of law you practice.
Think creatively to find images that convey who you are and what your business is about. Doing that will help you take your site to the next level.
Also, if you find a stock photo that you love, try Google’s reverse image search to
see if how often the image is used, especially within your industry. This will help you avoid selecting overly common images.
For instance, here’s the search for the image used on my home page. You’ll notice that there are only a few other sites that use that image and none of them are marketing companies.
Mistake #3: Poor navigation
There is nothing worse than a site that is difficult to navigate. Navigating your site shouldn’t turn into a guessing game of “what’s behind door number one?”.
If people have to hunt to find your content, they’ll just leave.
When it comes to your navigation, don’t get too cute with it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be creative, but companies should steer clear of navigation that doesn’t clearly convey where to find information on the site.
Take Blue Bell’s website, for example. When you go to the site, it’s not abundantly clear where to find anything. You have to roll your mouse all over the page to find the navigation. This doesn’t create the best user experience.
So, what constitutes good navigation?
- Clear labels. Navigation should be easy to find and labeled appropriately. It should be obvious where the user to click to get to the desired page.
- Easy to understand. In other words, “about us” takes to you to a page about the company. Simple works.
- Consistent. The navigation menu should be the same on every page. Moving it around only confuses the user.
- Link the logo. Most users expect to get to the home page by clicking on your company logo. Following that practice to make it easy on your users.
If you need some inspiration, here are some great examples of websites that have beautiful, but easy-to-use navigation.
You can do this
Eliminating these issues on your website will do wonders for your business. You just have to know what to look for and take the time to look through your site with a critical eye.
Have you made any of these mistakes on your website? What areas do you need to work on?
Photo credit: Jon Matthies