Updated: May 19, 2020
When you’re building your own website, there are, unfortunately, any number of things to do poorly. We’re going to focus on the top 4 mistakes because not only do they create a less-than-pleasing aesthetic experience, they can also eat away at potential sales. Don’t panic: if any of the mistakes listed seem uncomfortably familiar, you’ll be happy to know they are all relatively easy to fix.
Too much copy
Not enough copy
No CTAs or Unclear CTAs
Not mobile optimized
1. Too much copy. You may feel compelled to stuff as much knowledge as possible into your website. It is, after all, your business’s digital presence, and you want visitors to your site to be well-informed. The problem with cramming too much copy or too many images onto your site is that it becomes busy. And distracted eyes are not engaged eyes. As Usability Geek says: “Visitors who can’t understand what your site is about within a few seconds of arriving on your site will leave.”
Rather than put every bit of info you can, use your website to focus on three key features: an overview of the services your business provides, why someone should work with you, and how to get in touch with you. You can build additional aspects, such as reviews, photo galleries, and upcoming events, into your design, but focusing on the who, why, how will help you keep your website copy concise but informative.
When building those key features, write for scanability. Think about how you read websites when you’re browsing: are you settling in for a deep read, or are you scanning them for relevant info? Burying important information in a ton of fluff copy means your site visits will miss it.
2. Not enough copy. On the flip side, erring too far into minimalist territory will leave visitors to your website frustrated or confused. Trying to be creative with cryptic, suggestive copy may seem like a good idea, but in reality, if what your website saying isn’t immediately clear, you’re not going to engage with your website visitors. And if you're not engaging with them, you're losing them.
Relying on images to convey your site’s message isn’t a viable solution, either. Not only does it leave room for interpretation (and when it comes to helping people understand what your business is about, you don’t want them to have to interpret it), doing so makes your website harder for search engine crawlers to understand and, thus, rank.
To help you strike a balance between too much website copy and too little, put yourself in the shoes of a first-time visitor. Ask yourself the following:
Is it immediately clear what my business does?
Do I provide a reason as to why someone should buy from me?
Is there a clear way for site visitors to contact me?
If you cannot answer a confident yes to each of those questions, you know you need to tweak your website copy. It's OK if you don’t have time to write your own website content, or you’re unsure as to whether what your site says is on point. Look for a website content specialist or a freelance writer with website copy experience to help you.
3. Unclear or nonexistent CTAs. You’ve got your website copy to a solid place. But what do you want people to do? Your CTAs, or calls-to-action, provide an action that you want your site visitors to take based on something you’ve just told them. There are two important CTA features to keep in mind.
Your CTAs must be clear. The invitation to site visitors to take an action must be presented as the logical conclusion of the preceding copy. If, for example, you just wrote some powerful copy compelling people to sign up for your eNewsletter, your CTA shouldn’t invite them to adopt a puppy. Granted, that’s an extreme example, but it demonstrates the importance of building clear, logical CTAs. Dropping a call-to-action either too soon on your page or anywhere other than as the logical next step to the information you’ve just presented risks losing people on the conversion. You need to make sure people understand what you want them to do and why you want them to do it.
Your CTAs have to move people. If you’ve just written what you consider your best blog post yet, do you want your CTA to simply suggest that website visitors “Read Now”? Such a lackluster invitation won’t necessarily compel action. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your CTAs; just keep in mind that they have to make sense and be clear. Just like your website copy, getting too cute or too cryptic with your CTAs puts you at risk of losing clicks and, thus, potential sales
4. Not mobile optimized. If you haven’t taken steps to ensure that your website looks good and performs well on mobile devices, you’re committing a cardinal website sin. Mobile optimization is so important that Google now crawls the mobile version of your site before the desktop version (source). Why? Because the majority of people visiting your site are doing so from their phone or tablet, and if your site has copy hidden behind images, weird line breaks or missing features on mobile, you’re losing a lot of potential customers.
If you’re a local Hudson Valley-based business, mobile optimization for your website is going to be especially important. As visitors flock to the area and use search to find the best local coffee, or the closest restaurant, or where to grab a quick drink, they’ll be pulling out their phones to do so. The good news is most of the common platforms (WordPress, Wix) will do the optimization for you. Make sure you edit it, though, as there may still be design tweaks to be made or features that are lost in translation.
Make your best first impression with your website. Review it for these four mistakes, make edits as necessary, and make maintaining its presence a priority.
There's more information on website content here.