Saturday, 21 March 2015 21:29

5 Reasons Your Website Sucks

Realistically there's a whole load more than just 5 reasons but I'm going to target what IMHO are the top 5 mistakes most web designers make, things you can check yourself quickly and things that can also be fixed rather quickly also (some with a little technical knowledge).

Firstly though, why the article...? Simple: I came across a friendly group of people that I think may turn out to be prospects so I thought "Why not, let's have a look at what they have out there?" So off I went and looked at all their websites. Now there were something like 30+ sites to look at so I had no time to do an in depth analysis of each so opted to scan each one for 10-15 key elements that every website should have.

The first of-course was a website itself. Would you believe that 4 of these businesses did not even have a website...? I kid you not, and they're all businesses that depend on local trade. Opportunity will come knocking I suspect.

Intended Audience...

If you're reading this then you probably already have a website and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you have your doubts about your current design resource. Or, you could be just reading this for giggles but I doubt that.

You might not have a website. Great, read on and you'll be armed to the teeth with questions to interrogate any prospective web designer.

Now I'm going to prefix this with one simple caveat: Please don't take these points as finite. Seriously, if I had to note everything that goes into a deep analysis of a website I'd bore you to death so use these as a starting point.

1. URL:

Some years ago (I think about 12 years ago) I wrote an article up called Anatomy Of a Website where I detailed all the critical elements of a website. A few years ago I reworked that article and made very few changes surprisingly.

Your URL should ideally state what you do and where you do it (if you are limited by geography). It should be easy to spell, not have numbers ("is that a number four or F O U R?") and not even need a pen and paper to be written down. Imagine, I tell people my e-mail address is **** at What no Website .co.uk and half the time they don't even need a pen.

2. Analytics:

You might think most web designers install the Google Analytics code prior to launching a site but many don't. I've forgotten to do this myself now and then but it gets done and there's an easy way to check.

There are websites out there that will check for you but I have found that some get this wrong, why? I don't know but they do. So here's an easy method of checking if you don't know how to:

Open up the source code for the website, CTRL+U should do this. Now search for "Analytics" or "UA-" and you should see the Google Analytics code there. You don't need to be concerned about whether it's accurate or not, if it's there then it's most likely working OK.

3. Sitemap:

A bit more tricky this but there should ideally be two: A HTML version for those browsing your site and an XML version for Google Webmaster tools.

It's probably a good idea to ask your designer or someone who knows how to look to find the XML version as it isn't always names sitemap.xml.

4. Title:

This is what shows up at the top of the browser in the browser tab. It's also what's used in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) so you might want to check this.

Of the 30+ sites I checked more than 10% either had no title or the title was too long. One (if I recall correctly) was three lines long. Bad on so many levels.

5. Description:

This is hidden text that gets fed through to the SERPs (although Google do say they don't pay it that much attention), is used in the descriptive text used when you share a page and should reflect the content of the web page in just a few words.

Depending on the system you're using to display your website, for example Joomla or WordPress, this might be an easy fix if it needs correcting.

Shockingly over 70% of the sites I checked had no description or it was too long or incorrect for their market.

Summary:

I'd be interested to see how your website measures up to these simple tests. Perhaps a more in depth analysis is needed? Perhaps you passed with flying colours? In any case there's always something that can be improved and with that in mind I have no shame in telling you that I would quite happily do an analysis of your site for you should you like me to, just get in touch.

While you're in reading mode perhaps the questions you should ask a web designer outlined in my article I Am Not a Web Designer might be of interest.

Hope you enjoyed.



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