5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Developing a Website

There are well over a hundred million websites on the internet. The number is increasing by the minute, but most web surfers will see a tiny fraction of these sites because of some common mistakes. The following is a list of 5 common pitfalls to avoid when developing a new website.

1. Choosing a domain name / buying related domain names

It’s easy to get carried away with very (too) creative or long domain names, especially since most simple domains are already in use. Be sure that you keep the domain as short and relevant as possible, and make sure it makes sense when you look at it. And, please don’t buy a domain name ending in .tv, .biz or .mobi because your preferred .com is unavailable. It is poor form and it will look like an attempt to ride the coattails of a successful .com domain. Consumers who stumble upon your site in the search for the .com domain will feel like you are trying to dupe them into visiting your site whether you intended to or not.

By the same token, when you purchase your .com domain, don’t be afraid to pick up your domain ending in .info, .biz, and / or .org (if appropriate to the nature of your business), especially if you think your site will attract copycats. As mentioned above, successful .com sites will often see their domain name popping up ending in .biz, .info, etc, because the owners of those sites really are hoping to ride your coattails by duping your visitors into coming to their site.

2. Spending too little or too much on your website

We can’t tell you in one article how much you should spend on your site, but we can give you some ranges and guidelines. If you pay under $1000, you are dealing with a price leader, which is ok. Just know that this individual or company is in the business of getting customers based solely on lowest price and not much else. You are going to get an extremely basic website or what we call an “online brochure” that doesn’t change much and doesn’t compel visitors to do business with you. And that is the best case scenario- if you pay this little for a site, chances are you aren’t dealing with a seasoned expert who knows the fine ins and outs of inserting metadata for search engine indexing, or who utilizes professional copy writers, designers or project managers. Your site design will likely be a template, and probably will lack the functional and interactive elements that consumers are looking for online these days.

Conversely, there are developers that charge staggering hourly rates, and huge companies who have to support major overhead. These companies may charge upwards of $50,000 or more for a site with all the bells and whistles and ongoing maintenance retainers. If you work with a creative, successful developer or company, they should be able to prioritize your immediate needs with future wants and give you a firm estimate and solid contract.

Talented, professional web developers know that their time (and yours) is valuable- they charge more than the “price-leader” for an effective online marketing tool, and they will work hard to give you exactly what you need. However, be leery of large companies and all the bells and whistles they throw at you- you may end up supplementing their sky high overhead. A fantastic, effective website doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

3. Too many “dynamic” elements

Dynamic elements are FABULOUS ways to get your visitors interested in your website by allowing them to learn new things or interact with you. For example, you may have a weekly column on your site written by a guest expert in your field- your loyal and interested patrons will subscribe to a feed or visit your site often for this information and they will think of your business anytime a similar topic comes to mind.

However, if you also add a blog to share your personal musings, a photo gallery, calendar of events, an invitation to ask questions and…. How can you keep up with all of this? Pretty soon visitors notice that the information is stale and they don’t come back anymore, and don’t think of you or your company. At worst, the information that you no longer update will look stale and become a turn off to visitors.

Using all of these elements appropriately can send the message to a visitor that your business is the expert in your industry, that you are professional, and makes you stand out among the competition. But, it is crucial to have a plan to manage these elements, and choose which of them to use very carefully based on what you can handle. For instance, a reputable company (ahem, MetaMorph!) can manage your updates for you, or train one of your employees to manage these updates for you.

4. Lack of relevant, useful or entertaining content

The previous example is what happens when trying to manage too much content. Another common pitfall is not having enough information that the visitor finds useful, relevant or interesting to read. Make sure that articles are updated often and that they contain the kinds of information your target audience is looking for on your site- answer common questions about your product or service, address trends and developments or your industry in the news.

5. Typos, misspellings, dead links

This is a pet peeve for us! There is an incredible invention called Spell Check and it is your friend. Check and double check everything you publish. Have some other people read it before posting it, and go back and read things you have posted in the past. Test your links often (both those leading to other pages on your site and those going to outside sites) and make sure they are functioning properly.

A note on linking to other sites- make sure that those sites also link back to you unless you think the other site is such an amazing resource that you must share it with your visitors. Having too many links to other sites and not enough links coming to your site can make you rank lower in natural or “organic” search rankings. Also, make sure that your links don’t jettison your visitors to other sites- set your links to open in a new window or you risk another abandoned shopping cart and losing your customer’s attention forever.

Choosing a Web Package – A Guideline

One of the very first questions you need to ask yourself is: Why do I need a web site? Several answers might pop up; to boost my sales, to make myself known, to have a reference for my clients, to start a new business,…the list can go on and on…but how do you determine what’s right for you and your business?

The way to evaluate possible contenders for the job is to ask the right questions. Here are some questions you cannot afford not to ask.

In reference to the company that provides web services, you should ask…

1. Are they offering just web development, or, just web hosting, or do they have a vast range of services linked to the web industry?…i.e. do they offer the whole spectrum of services linked with web sites?

2. How do their prices compare to other companies who are providing the same services?

3. How flexible are they to my requirements…a) do they offer extra pages? b) do they offer additional hosting? c) is support part of the price I’m paying?

4. Do they offer dynamic sites? Normally this would give an indication of how experienced their programmers are in developing sites.

5. Are there any references to ‘search engine optimization’ on their site? If not, most probably they are not going to write my site in a way that major search engines can find it and rank it highly.

6. Do they offer search engine optimization? This is very important if I need to rank high and make the task for prospective customers to find me an easy one.

These are questions you should ask and if in doubt don’t hesitate to contact the company before investing your money in them. Most importantly they need to have fast and reliable support, although this can only be verified when it’s too late, i.e. you have already paid for it.

Other decisions you need to take is how your web site should look like. Do you require a static site with a lot of content, or minimum content with impressive graphics, sounds and animations? This would obviously depend on the nature of your business and the way you need to promote your image. The company you choose need to have enough experience to help you make this decision based on your business’ perspectives.

Whatever the case, as in nearly all things in life, a moment of reflection and some research are fundamental in order to make the right decision.

Simple Guidelines on Web Designing

The professionals of the web design company will surely benefit from following the usual guidelines in web designing and though some may think that they have earned enough expertise on that certain field, there are some things that can never be disregarded when aiming for an expertly designed website.

• Web content that has grammatical and spelling errors should never find its place on a website who wants to established a credible reputation.

• It is important to design a website that would be compatible on different browsers. There are many browsers being used by different users and it would be totally useless to have the best website if it cannot run on most browsers.

• Always optimize your photos before posting it onto your site. Most web visitors are very conscious of the time that they spend on certain websites and they would surely leave a site that keeps them hanging for so long.

• The 3-click rule should be understood by web developers. If a web visitor can’t achieve what they need after 3 clicks on the mouse they would find no reason to linger on it so it would definitely be necessary to make sure that there are no discrepancies within your links.

A good web design merely deals with adequate planning. It may only need a common sense and right judgment to determine the things that would surely work best for your site and for sure if you’ll carefully take note of these important things, the task of designing a perfectly made website will never be hard to accomplish.