With all the pressure to have an online presence, it might seem like all you ‘have’ to do is get a website up, regardless of its quality. But a bad (read: poorly designed) website is not only a waste of resources, it can lead to blacklisting by search engines. And if your site is blacklisted, no one will find you, your web-based email program won’t work, and you’ll be unable to promote your site!
At Saltmedia, we’re deep in the process of designing great websites every day, and we’ve learned a lot of legitimate ways to make your site hit #1 on Google searches… we’ve also come across some pretty tragic mistakes that clients have brought to us for fixing.
It can be soooo tempting to use your website as a place to earn money for other businesses’ ads. And there are a lot of people claiming they make thousands of dollars a month from ad revenue!
But putting your focus on getting as many ads as possible is the complete opposite of creating a solid online presence. Your revenue should come from business generated through a great website, not ads from other companies. (And we’ve never come across a real business who makes more money in third party ads than they do from their own activities.)
Plus, a page full of ads is a big turnoff and a marketing no-no. Even if you do get a legitimate visitor to your site, they’re likely to leave immediately, and they won’t leave with any good thoughts about your company or brand.
The right goal for your website? It’s establishing credibility, attracting the right leads and customers, and converting those leads into long-term, paying clients. That’s where the big money is!
When a website has too much going on—or too much whitespace—it will turn off visitors. Good web design balances content, images, and whitespace to create a visually attractive page that gets and keeps a visitor’s attention.
Another ‘too much’ mistake is to have too much text. Back when Google was just starting to rank pages from search results, their algorithm favored tons of written content. Companies responded by putting up massive written content—sometimes even 5,000-10,000 words of (mostly) meaningless text.
The thing is, the Google algorithm is constantly learning and adjusting so that it provides the best search results. And it learned pretty quickly that big blocks of text weren’t cutting it. Now, the algorithm is looking for very specific criteria in determining which sites get that all-important spot on the first page of Google.
Web designers need to make sure that what’s going on a page is relevant, visually appealing, and quick to load. Too much of anything is not a good thing!
Have you ever clicked on a website and then felt totally confused about what the page was about?
Even if you have a gorgeous website with perfectly balanced text and images, if people don’t know what your business is, you’ll lose them.
So, what exactly does your business do, and what exactly do you want from people when they click on your website? Once you have those two answers, make sure they’re a prominent part of your web design. This carries over into your social media marketing too: be clear about what you offer and what you want customers to do.
One more thing about getting to the point: don’t overdo it. Just like the ‘too much’ problem, if your call to action (CTA) is blasted all over your site, or a visitor can’t see your site without filling in a form (or three), then you’re going to lose potential business.
OK, we know there are a lot of brilliant young people out there—and many of them are your friends’ kids, or your neighbor’s cousins, or some other connection. But good web design requires more than fantastic coding skills.
Having someone without technical training and experience ‘help’ you out with a website won’t get all the on-page and off-page SEO you need your site to give you. (SEO=search engine optimization; the power of your site to show up as a search result and connect you to the right customers/clients for your business.)
We’ve got a great article about on-page SEO if you want more details, but in a nutshell, on-page SEO involves content and HTML source code for each page of your website, and off-page SEO involves links and external features.
Putting up a quick little site might feel like you’ve done (or had that nice guy down the street do) all you need to do online so you can get back to the stuff you love about your business. Unfortunately, the interweb does not work that way. Everyone on our Saltmedia team has a minimum bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience that is directly relevant to website development. We put potential prospects through their paces to make sure they are experts in building websites that work for our clients. (We also make sure they’re super nice and play well with others.)
In the industry, we call this the user experience (UX for short). There are so many ways that UX is missed in poor web design. Everything from pages that don’t load (or only partially load) to graphics that are hard to read, and sites that aren’t optimized for users across platforms.
Any site worth its salt (pun intended) provides a pleasant experience for the user. Pages load quickly. Images don’t get stuck in virtual clouds.
If someone is surfing the web on their mobile device (which most people do every day), a site with good UX fits their screen perfectly. If someone switches from their tablet to their laptop, the site still looks great and functions in every way.
We run websites through an exhaustive checklist for UX before they ever go live. And it makes a big difference for better search results (Google doesn’t like sites with poor UX), and better customer experiences.
When you have a website that’s designed professionally with all the details—both behind the scenes and on each screen—built in to make everything work as it should, your business will experience the benefits.
People frequently make the decision between two competing companies based on how their websites look. And when a future client does a Google search and sees your page pop up at the top of their results, they’re far more likely to click on your link and convert to becoming a loyal, paying client.
So, don’t just aim for ‘online presence’. Have an amazing website you can be proud of, that does the job of promoting your business and building your brand.
Wanna talk websites with us? We’d love to! Contact Saltmedia today and let’s get great web design working for you!
Saltmedia Inc operates on the traditional territory of Treaty 8 in what is now known as Grande Prairie. We value the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who lived and cared for this land long before Canada was founded, and we recognize that it is a privilege to operate our business here.
Our Prince George site operates on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh.
We are grateful to the Elders and Knowledge Keepers who are with us today, and those who’ve gone before us.