Whose side is your website on?

21 July 2014

The other day a client emailed me. They wanted me to produce some new material based on the design work I had completed for them years ago. No problem I thought, I have those files stored on my back hard drive. But for some reason I wasn’t able to access this external drive. It wasn’t showing up on my computer. I tried it on my laptop. No joy. I took it home and tried it there. Still nothing. I tried different leads. Nothing worked. I needed help.

Google to the rescue

I searched Google for local computer repair shops. The closest one to the office (just around the corner) couldn’t help. The next nearest was one I recognised. I’d used them about four years ago to upgrade my laptop. They did a good job for a reasonable price. And they also offered me some good advice. Overall a positive experience.

I decided to click on the link to their website. I wish I hadn’t. It was horrible. Visually it was a mess. Clashing colours. A multitude of different typefaces. Text that stretched from one side of the screen to the other. And spinning graphics (very 90s!). And it got worse.

Is it me you’re you looking for?

People search the web for many different reasons. I needed help – professional help. I needed to find someone who could do something I couldn’t. I was looking for someone with expertise and knowhow.

So imagine my surprise when I read this on their Services page: “The latest operating system from Microsoft is Windows XP (Microsoft no longer support Windows 95 & 98)”

What? XP? That was years ago. We’ve had Vista, 7 and 8 since then. That’s at least seven years out-of-date. Not good.

Reading this wouldn’t inspire confidence. It wouldn’t make a visitor think they’d found their expert. If the visual mess hadn’t seen the first-time visitor hit the back button then I’m confident this years-out-of-date information would have. But there’s more.

A fruitless journey

Despite the poor design and outdated information I decided to pay them a visit. My previous experience was good enough to overcome the negative impression their website portrays.

I arrive at the shop to find the shutters down. Taped to the shutters was a notice. They had moved. Three months ago! Something they had neglected to mention on their website. I checked when I got back to the office. Sure enough their homepage boldly proclaimed the address – not once but twice! – as the one I had just visited.

This is a classic example of a website not working for a business. In fact I think it’s doing more harm than good. I honestly believe their business would be better served if they removed the website from the web.

Lessons learned

So what lessons can a business learn from my recent experience.

1. Whether we like it or not people do judge books by their cover. The same is true for websites. Poorly designed sites won’t hold visitors for long. Numerous studies have been carried out over the years and the consensus is that a website has a matter of a few seconds to grab and hold a visitors attention.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the design of my website say about my business to a visitor?
  • Does it convey a sense of professionalism?
  • Is the important information I am trying to communicate presented in a way that is easy to read?

2. There are people searching the web right now looking for expertise. They want help. The information you communicate needs to inspire confidence. It needs to be up-to-date. It needs to be accurate. Your visitor needs to leave your website with the impression that you know what you are talking about. That you can be trusted. That you can help them.

A few more questions to ponder:

  • Am I communicating information on my website that is useful to potential visitors?
  • Is the information on my website up-to-date? If not can I update it easily?

Time for a change

So is your website on your side? Is it working for you or against you? Is it attracting new business? Are you in control of the content?

I can help you design and develop a website that looks good and puts you in control.

If you think your existing web presence is hindering rather than helping your business then don’t hesitate to get in touch.