31 Jul, 2023 / Xode Article

Websites: Your reliable business alter ego_

How reliable and user-friendly is your website? Are you scaring off potential customers because of how your site is laid out? What about broken links and poor mobile design? While just having a web presence at all may seem enough, there are a few things that are unforgivable in the digital world, no matter what industry you’re in.

We’ve all run into websites that looked like something out of the early 2000s, or a Salvador Dali nightmare, only to scroll to the bottom and discover (shockingly) it was created last year.

But it's not just the assault on the visual senses that makes these sites difficult to bear. When we go onto these websites, we can’t find anything. Things that look like buttons aren’t, the content tells us little or nothing about the business, and there’s no obvious way to contact anyone to complain about it. 

While it’s true to a certain extent that your business doesn’t need the flashiest graphics, animated features or sophisticated colour palette, most of us are fairly website literate by now. We expect them to look and perform a certain way without dragging down the internet speed. 

In essence, your website is your business’s alter ego. No matter how good your service or product, a poor website is letting your team down when bringing in new customers, rather like a very grumpy and unpleasant sales representative who gives your company a bad name. 

So what should you look out for when designing your alter ego?

Visual confusion 

We may have mentioned this already above, but if your website isn’t laid out in a neat, orderly way, you will lose customers. Think about the design of your website as a customer journey — each page should begin with a clear heading explaining exactly what the page covers. Additions to the page then offer further information that helps your customer perform a task you want them to do (find out more about your service, visit your store, etc). You should also include links around your website to allow users to jump between relevant content easily.

They are designed for only one medium

Mobile phone users account for around 70% of your traffic, so if your site isn’t set up to work on smaller screens, you’re only going to frustrate and alienate users. A comprehensive UX (User Experience) plan will account for multiple screens, including those who love making their web tabs small and in one corner of the screen. 

Slow or unresponsive speed

If your site takes more than seven seconds to load, you will start to lose people. If you built your site yourself or called in some well-meaning help, your site may be overburdened by large image files, server problems, outdated or overly complex code or simply too many plugins. 

In any case, you may need to look at revisiting your website’s backend or considering a new web host. You can perform a very simple speed check online to see if your current site is up to scratch. 

Unconnected or broken links

If you’ve recently transferred over to a new site or your current website needs a lot of external links to exist, you may find users constantly complaining about broken links. Managing these can be a hassle and depends partly on the links you want people to visit. 

Moving over to your new site also runs the risk of losing your old links and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which means your existing audience can’t find you. That’s why it's crucial that your web handover is managed by professionals who won’t let your current SEO go to waste. 

Nothing makes sense

Websites aren’t something you can just set up and forget. If you change your service, product, offering, pricing or anything else about your business, your website should reflect this change — otherwise, you risk annoying potential customers with false advertising. 

Few photos or testimonials 

Again, this is something you shouldn’t leave up forever. If your single testimony came from a customer in 2015, you’re effectively advertising the fact that very little has happened in the last seven years. 

The problem you face in the beginning is getting any reliable testimonials, reviews or photos of your service. Unfortunately, that’s something you’ll have to build yourself as you begin to network slowly. Getting in touch with your customers immediately after their interaction with you is key to ensuring you get good, reliable feedback while the interaction is still fresh in their minds. 

There are ways to automate testimonials using chatbots or Google ratings, which also help your business gain local rankings and continually add fresh testimonials to your site. It’s a whole field of SEO which is best explained in another blog.

Hard to contact

If finding your contact information or primary CTA (Call To Action) is too hard to find, or there’s nowhere for customers to enquire about their purchase, you may find many users making a hasty withdrawal. A good website will have its own dedicated contact page, as well as chatbots and email form links that are designed to help allay the customer’s fears and get them to trust in you as a legitimate, accountable business. 

Poor branding and information

If your brand doesn’t look professional and your tone of voice feels off, you may be dissuading before they’ve even had a chance to view a shop demonstration. Putting time into crafting something that looks like a brand, and isn’t overly complicated, is key to making you appear like a legitimate business. 

And, as we said earlier, you don’t have to go all out. If your business is in moving freight, you probably don’t want a high-end designer's website. But you do still want to appeal to your customers with something that looks like branding. 

You can hire a graphic designer or content writer for relatively cheap, and they’ll give you something to work with — although you should do some deep diving before committing to your final look. 

Last note for content: don’t make repeated grammar or spelling mistakes throughout. You can be really casual and begin with a sentence with an ‘and’, but if you start spelling capital with a ‘q’ then you’ll lose all credibility. 

Get your website done professionally

While there are heaps of tools for creating your own websites or freelancers who can do it cheaply, a dedicated software company should develop with you a detailed UX plan based on your company's needs. This service is particularly useful if you’re unsure about what it is you want, or your website involves a high level of specificity that a kit set web builder can’t offer. 

Luckily, you’re reading a blog by Xode, and websites are kind of our jam. If you’d like to get in contact about reviewing your website or just to ask all those burning web questions you’ve always wanted to know, feel free to get in contact and send us a message

Tags: websites, websitedesign, goodtechdesign, webdos&donts