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Your Website Sucks

Your Website Sucks

Unfortunately most websites suck – yes, suck. In other words, it is bad, really really bad. Unfortunately yours might be one of the sucky ones and it is entirely your fault. You made the decisions to put it out there. To try and help you to make it suck less, let us have a look at the reasons why it sucks.

1.      “Why are we making this website in the first place?” You don’t know the answer …

Being on the internet is important and you have to have a high profile and you have to have a website. You get all the ‘right’ stuff together and have a go;

Without a strategy

Without a purpose

Without knowing the beginning, end or middle

… and your website has sucked ever since.

Why does your website exist? Really, why?

If you still don’t know why you need your website, then stop reading this article and go figure that out first.

2.      Your website is not crawl friendly because your developers and you were more interested in efficiency

Banging your head against the wall until something works is not always the most creative way to write code and because a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, your developer made some decisions when creating your site that does not make it easy for your content to be found.

Just because your site is being served from a single server side file, search engines can’t actually find your website. Easy to do it this way for the developer, but your website does suck because of it.

3.      You haven’t embarrassed your HiPPO into submission that is why your website sucks

Because of their experience and instincts, and because they are earning the most money, The Highest Paid Persons Opinion (HIPPO) often wins battles when decisions need to be made without data,  they should be making important decisions, shouldn’t they?

Introducing data to refute their opinion will embarrass your HIPPO and you will find that the correct decisions are made more frequently as data driven arguments are their weakness.

By using data to deliver a first-class website that provides a success that can be measured, you can prove to your HIPPO that that is the reason he/she hired you.

4.      You made sacrifices to deliver the site on time, but have you revisited those compromises after launch?

You never worked so hard in your life. Launching the website was hard but by pulling an all- nighter or two and implementing less functionality, the launch eventually happened.

The site is live, you happily moved on to your next project and the fact that you made some compromises completely slipped your mind. Go back to your computer and finish the website the way it should have been finished in the first place. Your site will thank you in the end.

5.      You let your designer’s ego get in the way and now your website sucks …

You put all your faith in your designer, you let them dictate where everything goes and enforce their ideas on the entire project, and you let the tail wag the dog.

Great design is a cornerstone of a great website and hard to ignore but now you are stuck with a beautiful print ad and not a website.

A great website incorporates all of your needs and you need to work with your designer to create a visually appealing, easily navigable and search engine friendly site. Don’t let ego’s get in the way of doing the job right.

6.      Your website sucks because you were Penny wise and Pound foolish when you used a Designer and Copywriter.

Outsourcing someone from a country where labour is cheap is just not going to cut it. You spend a fortune on a brilliant website but now you need to add content.

Remember that good, interesting and spellbinding content is key to a good website. If you do not have the content, NO ONE will visit your website and your beautiful expensive design will go to waste. Except for maybe some friends and family – they will support you!

Leave room in your budget for a great copywriter whose words will match the stunning design of your website and will make sure that it is easily found by potential customers.

7.      Because your client has never heard the word “no”, your website sucks.

The word NO from you that is. You never told your client NO when they had an atrocious idea. You were a pushover and you said yes to everything your client wanted. You are in trouble and your client does not respect you because your website sucks!

You were so afraid of your client firing you that you couldn’t say no. Remember it is in their best interest for you to say no sometimes. Not being able to say no can have scary consequences like this.

8.      You fail to embrace design and code debt and now it looks like Times Square that is why your website sucks.

When you don’t take anything off but keep adding images and ads and badges and other buttons to your website, it will eventually look like Times Square. This will definitely affect the aesthetics of the website as well as cause some real behind the scenes technical problems through technical debt.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy. For everything you add, make sure that you take something off!

9.      You constantly use “user experience”, without ever consulting the user and now your websites suck!

Everyone but the actual user sat in a room and decided on what was best for the user. It turns out that the user experience thinkscrum came with a company bias and did not appeal to the user at all. Now your website sucks.

You are an expert on what users want to see because you use the internet? Users of the site are the only true users with user experience. Run some tests and optimise the process of getting users the information that they want to see.

10.  Your website sucks because you need to keep Flash developers employed

Don’t let the pretty pictures fool you. Don’t be drawn in by the cool music and hypnotic movement. It will not load properly on a mobile device!

Flash is something that needs to be used sparingly and in small doses, it is like the fats, oils and sweets of the internet development food guide pyramid.

11.  Your website is not a strategic vision but a whole host of tactics – that’s why it sucks.

Combining the best practices in the world into one website is the holy grail of marketing, right? You thought that by combining what you learned about marketing over the years was the key to success but now your website sucks because a whole lot of tactics does not make a strategy.

Tactics can help you increase the performance of your existing strategy but if your strategy was not well thought out and defined in the first place, you can’t improve it.

Much like how you had to know how to count before being able to add numbers together, your need to decide on a strategy before implementing tactics.

12.  Your Mobile strategy is… “do we really need this to work on mobile devices?” Now your website sucks

Yes, every year since about 2007/8 was supposed to be the year of mobile, so when exactly are you supposed to get serious about mobile?

Whilst you were waiting for a particular year to be your mobile saviour, looking at a longer timeline helps you realise that you are in the decade of mobile and you need to consider the mobile experience of your website because mobile visitor growth patterns for nearly every website that has been in existence for 5+ years, look like this:

13.  Calling your web analytics “Stats” is why your website sucks

Be current on website measurement techniques and whilst it might have been acceptable in the past, it is quite embarrassing to report on the ‘stats’ of your website in 2014 and you can kiss meaningful analysis goodbye if you are stuck in legacy reporting and focused on stats and hits.

A lot has changed in the past 10 years, with Google Analytics leading the way and collecting massive amounts of website visitor data is now something that you can do for free. Turning raw data into institutional knowledge is a sure fire way to get your website to suck less.

14.  Not having dedicated landing pages for PPC is why your website sucks

By introducing dedicated landing pages you will reduce your advertising spend and generate far more leads, but you can’t get anyone to buy-in because nobody seems to understand that sending visitors to the existing product pages of your website is like flushing money down the toilet.
Your web developers say that they can build a landing page platform that is better than Unbounce or Optimizepress and they can get it done in a month or less but your home-spun proprietary landing page platform will never be as good as the commercially available products on the market today.

15.  Your website sucks because ads and landing pages don’t match

Have you clicked on your PPC ads; were you aware that your ads and landing pages don’t match? Do you seriously expect your customers to purchase anything if the ad they click on says “Special Offer” and the landing page says “Our History”?

Your landing pages don’t deliver on the promises of your paid search ads and there’s no faster way to lose the confidence (and money) of your prospective customers than to use money to chase users away from your business.

16.  Trying to get to home base on the first date is why your website sucks

You haven’t bought a product or service online without doing some research first; chatting to friends, checking online reviews and even doing a Hello Peter search before buying. Why do you expect your customers to do it then?

Sales take time, like any other relationship. Don’t try and go all the way the first time someone visit your site; you might put potential customers off. Rather guide them through the process to the point where a sale or relationship happens naturally.

17.  Does your website match your customer? No? That is why your website sucks.

It wasn’t your idea to have your site in the purple hue of Barney the Dinosaur but you didn’t exactly say no to the funky teenage glitter look either.

Why would you think that the design and colour would suit a company of stockbrokers? They don’t appreciate irony and certainly won’t like hot purple glitter either.

Don’t let the idea of a perfectly designed website cloud your judgement when it comes to the needs and profile of your customer. Not all customers will appreciate your out there choices and not all websites need to be designer showcases.

Not matching your website to the personality of your customer is doing much more harm than good and it is just another reason why your website sucks.

18.  Your ‘coming soon’ section still has an animated under construction graphic

Spending an hour or so a day writing content for your empty pages and you will fill all of your content gaps within a few weeks. If ‘coming soon’ exists on your website, fix it.

19.  Your website sucks because your blog was last updated in  …..

You are telling customers that you will also neglect their problems if you consistently go weeks/months/years between updates to the blog on your website. Is that the message that you want to send them?

No news is not always good news. Providing no message to your prospective customers is sending the wrong message. Update your blog at least once a month or get rid of your blog altogether. The SEO benefits of updating your blog are too good to ignore.

20.  Your site navigation is as bad as your corporate strategic plan

Your users get lost more than people using paper maps. They are more likely to die in a meteor shower accident than clicking on the prominent navigational links on your site.

Because your navigation system is one big pat on your corporate back, nobody clicks on any of your links because they don’t care!

Your internal search engine has thousands of searches for what your visitors really want. Reward them by making these most common search terms a part of your navigation.

21.  Your website sucks because it can’t remember who I am

I have visited your site countless times and you still treat me like some window shopping pleb every time I visit. Do you know or care who I am? Apparently not.

22.  Trees grow faster than your web release schedule

Website improvement you suggested two years ago?  There are trees that were planted from seeds that have borne fruit since your brilliant idea. If the cycle of life moves faster than your web development cycle, then it’s a pretty good sign that your website sucks.

23.  Your website sucks

… now what are you going to do to fix it?

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