With billions of business websites online today, we all know that there are plenty of websites out there that just plain suck. We’re talking about websites where everyone in the company is embarrassed by their company website or worse…the site looks nice but is still managing to turn people away.
That’s why the staff at Make It Loud has developed a quick checklist that allows you to grade your website to see if yours is doing what it’s supposed to. You’d be absolutely amazed at how many “professional websites there are out there that just miss the mark entirely. Granted, there is a certain level of subjectivity to web design, but there are also some basic parts that need to be there.
So, let’s get started. By the way, this list is not prioritized. It’s in the exact order we thought of them:
1 WHAT DO YOU DO? With all the websites we see on a weekly basis, sadly, there are still a lot that we look at and just can’t tell what they do. We’ve all heard of the 3-second rule when we drop food. Well, this should apply your business website. If your customer can’t immediately tell what your business is or what you do, that’s not good. Your site should tell your story, but tell it quickly.
2 YOUR LOGO- Yes, you need a logo. Real companies have them (and good ones!). If you only have your business name up in the left corner of your site, this can bring into question the legitimacy of your business. Having a logo is not only a good business decision; it inspires trust in your company.
3 COLOR SCHEME- It’s standard design practice to take the colors in your logo and use them throughout your site. Far too often, we see websites that look like an artist’s palette exploded. This can confuse the browsers- not to mention turn them off. Just say no. Stick to colors that make sense for what you’re trying to do.
4 PHONE NUMBER– You’d be absolutely amazed at how many websites we see where the business owners want more phone calls but don’t put the phone number on the home page. (Forehead slap) Enough said.
5 POP-UPS- This can get tricky because there are popups that really help with conversions, and there are those that really irritate your browsers. Use them carefully, and remember, generally speaking, Google doesn’t like to see popups on your site, so consider using them with caution.
6 CALL TO ACTION- Like all of us, your website has a purpose in life. First, think about why you wanted a website to begin with. Next, think about what you’d like your website’s special purpose to be. Now, go look at your site and see if it takes the browser by the hand and leads him/her to do exactly what you want that person to do.
7 WEB DESIGN UPDATES– If you’ve conceived, birthed, and started raising a child since your last website update, it’s probably time. The average website design is good for 2-3 years before it starts looking dated. Remember when denim leisure suits were in? Yeah, neither do we. Don’t let your business website be the denim leisure suit of your industry.
8 CONTACT US– It just makes sense that if you want your possible clients to contact you, you have to make it easy for them- and give them different ways to contact you- on their terms. This means, put a contact form in a prominent place, an email address, a phone number, etc.
9 GOT A CHATBOT? At one point, having a chatbot on your website was just a dream, but now, it’s a reasonable option for any business. Chatbots help your business in a variety of ways- engage your clients faster, provide better customer service, convert browsers into customers faster, etc. (We can add those for you!)
10 DATA OR NO DATA– Do you want to make data-driven decisions with your marketing? (Psst, the answer is always “yes”!). Having actual metrics on your site can tell you how well your site is doing. This is why you want to have at least Google Analytics if not some other ways to measure browser behavior (we’re looking at you, conversion optimization tools. Ask us more about that one!).
11 AUDIO/VIDEO– It’s been a while since we’ve seen this, but there are still websites out there that have audio or video that cranks up on autoplay. This is just a terrible idea. Don’t start your relationship with your customer by having them dive for the volume control as soon as they hit your website. It doesn’t engender trust. It breeds irritation.
12 SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)- Being on page one of Google means your business has more visibility and opportunities for more clicks. You may not be an SEO ninja (We are!), but having your website at least set up for good SEO is a step in the right direction. Not doing any SEO means your beautiful website might just not get seen.
13 WEBSITE CHANGES– We get a lot of walk-in traffic at our shop, and far too many of our walk-ins tell us they don’t have access to their own business website which means they can’t edit or update their own content. This means they have to reach out to their designer, pay more money and wait for their nerd to get around to it. That’s just no way to operate a business.
14 BUYING A VOWEL– Watch the spelling and grammar on your website. Having errors in your content (or anywhere on your site really) can send your browsers back to Google. We’d also warn you about random capitalization. We see that periodically on websites and for the life of us, we don’t know why some things are capitalized.
15 BIG HONKIN’ TEXT BLOCKS– This one explains itself, but unless your website contains chunks of “War & Peace”, you really want to avoid huge blocks of text. People don’t read much. They skim. Break it up, add pictures, add subheadings & bullet points. Make it interesting.
16 COPIED CONTENT– Plagiarism was bad in high school and it’s still bad news on websites. Never put an image on your website that you just “found” on the Internet. You are most likely violating copyright law and running the risk of a hefty fine (yes, really). Also, don’t “borrow” text from other sites. Copying off your neighbor is still not good. Only this time, Google is the one that will send your site to detention.
17 WATCH YOUR TONE– All content has a voice. Make sure your content has a consistent voice throughout your site. This also has to do with first-person content to the third person. Generally speaking, we like when you’re talking to us (the reader), so use “you” wherever appropriate.
18 CLEAR NAVIGATION Your menu needs to be simple and easy to understand. It has to have a natural flow. The more complex your menu, the more likely you are to lose people and losing people is bad.
19 HAVE AN SSL– It used to be that only websites that sold things online needed an SSL certificate. These days, Google basically requires them. Not only is having an SSL a ranking factor, but Google labels your site as “unsecure” without it. This makes people question whether being on your site is safe, and that’s just bad juju.
20 THE DESIGN OF THE SITE IS FOR THE BOSS– This is a common mistake that a lot of business owners make. They hire a designer or worse, design the site themselves to make it attractive to themselves. Having a good-looking website is important, but if we’re being honest, it’s way more important that your target market thinks your site is attractive than the boss does. The checks he writes depend largely on the checks your new customers write first.
21 MOBILE-FRIENDLY- At this point, we shouldn’t even have to say this, but since roughly 60% of all browsers are on their cell phone, if your website doesn’t look good on a smartphone, you’re losing business. Period. Thanks for coming to our TED Talk.
22 NOT ENOUGH CONTENT ON YOUR SITE-While it may be true that a picture is worth 1000 words, Google is paying more attention to your words than your images. This means you have to balance your pretty pictures with text that explains your business in quick, simple terms.
23 A BLOG– It’s a great way to add keyword-rich content to your site and depending upon what you do, it’s a great way to put content out there that helps people find you before they understand they need you. But, here’s the problem with having a blog- you have to maintain it. If you don’t and your next customer clicks on your “ever so helpful” blog page to find that the last blog post was in 2004, your next customer just bounced away to your competitor. Don’t be that website.
24 PAGE LOAD SPEED– If we can roast a turkey in the time it takes your website to fully load, you can bet it won’t be a happy Thanksgiving. These days, we all have the attention span of a goldfish, so if you make us wait to see your beautiful website, we’ll just move on and take our money with us.
25 YOUR SITE IS SO UGLY… Let’s be honest, like some babies, there are some websites out there that are just plain ugly. Ask your sales team for honest (anonymous) feedback. You’d be amazed at how many salespeople steer potential customers away from their company website because of how dated or embarrassing it is. If your site is ugly, you’re just helping any browsers you have select your competitors.
We’re sure we could come up with more things to think about but we figured by now, you’re tired and want to stop reading.
Last thing…check out your company’s website and see how it’s doing with these points. If the news is bad, call us. We’d love the chance to provide your business with our professional web design or digital marketing services to help you get more business. Even if the results are pretty good, we offer social media advertising, search engine optimization, content writing, and more to help you get your phone ringing.
These days we build WordPress websites for small to mid-sized companies along with web hosting and so much more. Let us help you develop an online presence that stands out from your competition.
We’re only successful when you are, and over the nearly 16 years we’ve been around, we’ve helped a lot of companies become more successful. Call us for a free consultation today.