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If you’re planning to freshen up your site, first check your current site against this list of common problems and mistakes and take this chance to fix any before launching your new and improved site.
However large or small your business, and regardless of your business type or how well financed, most web sites share common problems.
Here are ten of the ones most commonly found. Almost all of these problems start long before a web site goes live.
Most site problems start with people, particularly those who act without thinking. If your team are not fully aware of your sites basic goals, the site will end up as disoriented as your team are. Always start with clearly defined business objectives for the site, identify clear-cut target markets, and set objectives and targets that can be measured by an exact K.P.I. (Key Performance Indicator) so you can quantify your success and revel in your accomplishment.
If you already have a brick-and-mortar store, think about how to expand your market without simply moving customers from one medium to another or alienating your current client base. If you’re starting a new pure-play business, lay down a complete, detailed business plan before starting.
It is impossible to run a business, especially online if you are unwilling to be flexible and move with current trends and ideas. It is easy to get attached to what is comfortable, easy and has proven to work in the past, however in such a fast paced medium, what has worked in the past will often be outdated and detrimental to the future of your company. If things start to look down, consider what you can change or update to improve your site’s look or usability. Even better, watch trends closely and try to get ahead of your competition — as long as your changes track with your target market.
Web site owners regularly think they can delegate everything to their development team and relinquish all web responsibility. This is not a sensible way to run your business. No matter how competent your developers may be, no one knows your business and markets as well as you yourself do. You need time to produce content, stock your store, and then maintain your site.
Programming almost always goes much more quickly than content.
Plan everything in advance: phone lines, staff, merchandising, equipment, shipping, wrapping, training, etc. If you have issues offline, fix them before going online. Nothing is ever simple — including web sites.
Far too many site owners concentrate on their own agenda rather than what site visitors want to know. A little imagination can go far. Consider things from the point of view of a customer. What do they want and how easily can they find it?
As with all advertising, web site owners need to consider WIIFM (What’s in it for me – the customer?). It is the question a potential customer will always ask and every site must answer through navigation to content, from the first headline on the home page to the thank-you message at the end: “What’s in it for me?”
If you’re planning for Summer sales, you cannot go to a developer in March and expect to profit in June. Even without accounting for development time, you will need to assign time for your site promotion to yield reults.
Launching something quick and dirty to get going on a search engine listing is not a problem, however a professional web site takes serious preparation regarding how it will function, how it will look, what will be on it, and how it will be promoted.
Allocate at least three months for most sites, unless your company has the resources or backing to pay multiple staffers or professionals to work on it.
Whatever you plan, expect your site to take twice as long and cost twice as much
as you estimate, this way when you go over budget you will not be surprised.
Even though there are many SEO experts, many companies and developers continue to build sites that are not only unfriendly, but also detrimental to the optimization of your web site for search engines. Large corporations that have enterprise-level solutions are often the worst offenders. If your developer or web software does not support the following, contemplate a change:
(Remember not to take shortcuts with SEO, check out black hat SEO, avoid it like the internet plague for advice on this.)
Often site owners do not realize they have statistics, let alone know how to use them. They do not know about real trends in their site traffic. Instead of reviewing data, they react to someones last or overall impression of how the business is faring.
While any sort of web data can often be imprecise and should not be trusted for absolute values, it can provide a good overall conceptualization of trends and relative evaluation. Aim to monitor your statistics before you design your site. Check that your developer or host can supply the data you need.
You might feel that you have a good, well structured, easy to navigate site but there is not a never-ending stream of customers flocking to your site. They can’t, and they won’t unless you promote your site. Search engines and an inbound link campaigns are two of the most integral components of Web marketing, however many people do not do those consistently.
Onsite, online, and offline techniques must all be consistently used to ensure an active, continuous, and effective marketing campaign. Successful companies do not stop advertising simply because people have heard of them.
Web sites do not exist in a vacuum but in the context of your overall business. Often business owners place blame on their web sites or web marketing, when the cause of the problem lies elsewhere.Is customer support available, either online or offline? Is the right merchandise on the site? Are there problems filling orders? With staff maintaining the site? With quality control on products? With your infrastructure, inventory, or accounting? Check every possible source before deciding where you believe the problem lies.
An unattended site is a unsuccessful one. If you neglect your site after building it, you are wasting your investment. Freshen merchandise, update content and compete with your market rivals. Customers’ expectations rise mercilessly, partly due to the best practices of sites such as Amazon.com.
You might profit with a poor site if you are the only supplier of rare products, but this is not necessarily the case. Always remember: Your search engine rankings will slip if you do not update your site regularly.