For many organizations, the website was completed years ago and nobody in the company really looks at it any more. You know it’s probably not up to date, but there’s never time to redo a website.
But your customers do see it, and even more frightening, your prospects more than likely viewed your site before contacting you the first time. Your old site may be scaring off more business than it is bringing in.
Here are five things you need to look for when reviewing your site. If you have them, you need to get them off. They will hold you back.
1. Splash pages
Splash pages are full pages, often with animated content, that display before your site’s main page. Splash pages usually have a link at the bottom that says “Continue to site”.
Splash pages were never a good idea, they were created at a time when graphic designers and advertising folks created most websites and thought any chance to run a commercial was good. The truth is that people are already at your site, they don’t need a commercial, they are ready to know more. Making them go through a splash page is like telling customers they can’t be seated in your restaurant until after they wait in the lobby and watch your commercials. It was a bad idea then, it still is. Modern website don’t use splash pages.
Additionally, splash pages often kill your search engine ranking. Much of your site ranking on Google comes from the first page. If that page has nothing but a flash video or slideshow, then Google has nothing to read. Hence your site is basically empty in their view. That’s not what you want Google to think.
2. Flash animations
Another carry over from the advertising-agency-built sites is the gratuitous use of flash animations. The theory was that websites needed to be engaging, an experience, and entertaining to attract visitors. Maybe that was true in the early days when there were more websites than web users, but today content is king. People use the web to get information, they don’t need shiny flashing things to hold their attention. Additionally, as more sites are viewed on mobile devices, these intense animations often don’t display at all, or download so slowly that they make the site unusable.
Apple mobile devices don’t display flash at all, so even if you have a tasteful use of flash, it still can’t be seen by anyone on an iPhone or iPad. Again, any content inside flash animation can’t be seen by search engines either.
3. Old news
Years ago we signed a contract to build a new website for a church. The first thing the business administrator wanted us to do was immediately remove the featured news story off the current website. The feature story was the birth announcement of the pastor’s child, and notice saying mother and daughter were both doing fine. He said that “baby” is now 4 years old and the story just reminds everyone how long it’s been since they updated the site.
It’s hard to impress new prospects and existing clients when your most current news story is several years old. If your last news story is years old, people may even get the impression you aren’t in business any more. Get some fresh news on your site to prove you are still in business.
4. Autoplay music
Unless you are a musician, you shouldn’t have music that automatically plays on your site. Even if you are a musician, the music should only play when it’s selected. As web surfing has become mainstream, more users are visiting website from offices, schools, and other public locations. They don’t want to hear your music automatically playing. Trust me on this one.
5. Font frenzy
Too many font sizes, too many font styles, too many colors. These are usually the sign of an amateur developer, or someone who has the ability to edit their own site. Just because the average computer has 200 fonts and can display 65 million colors, it doesn’t mean you should have to use them all on the same page. Moderation is good. Most professional sites only have 2 or 3 fonts, and usually only 2 or 3 colors. If everything is BOLD ITALIC RED and BLINKING then nothing stands out.
The exterior of your office probably doesn’t include every architectural feature known to man, your website shouldn’t either.
That’s the list. Getting these five items off your site will help make it a positive tool in your marketing efforts. Your website can be a great first impression tool for new prospects. It just needs a fighting chance.
by Terrell Sanders