We all know how it begins. You and your buddy decide to launch a website together to promote your latest product or service. How hard can internet marketing be? You spend a few bucks on a basic website template, and cobble together enough information from your competitor’s website to pass a plagiarism test because you’re sure this is what your target audience wants and needs. Somehow, you end up down a rabbit hole of website plugins and you add so many that your website doesn’t perform well and begins to crash… After sitting on it for a couple of weeks, you finally launch it.
Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive. It’s alive!
But what you’ve ended up with, a Frankenstein website that has been haphazardly pieced together ignoring all the rules of website design, is not the website that will help grow your business online.
You’ve seen them. They’re out there. From small businesses to large corporations, they exist. And although some websites may seem well-designed and polished on the front-end, the interaction design is mediocre at best, begging to be hacked and put out of its misery.
A bad user experience is bad for business.
We’re sure you’ve seen this term thrown around. User experience is, simply put, the experience a user has while using your website, software, or app, how easy it is to use and get to the things that matter. Many confuse this with high-quality graphic design. Don’t. A graphic designer has the ability to make a web page look aesthetically pleasing, but a user experience designer focuses on the interaction between users and a system.
So what does this mean for you? A site that wasn’t built using user experience best practices can show a severely increased bounce rate, as well as really low conversions. This means people aren’t staying on your site long enough, and calls to action aren’t obvious, resulting in no sales, leads or engagement.
If you build it, they will hack it.
Websites get hacked into every day. It is unavoidable. In fact, a Clark School study at the University of Maryland found that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds! Websites that are pieced together with free, unverified or old plugins run a higher risk of being attacked by hackers. One of the main reasons is that these plugins don’t get updated frequently, or at least not as fast as the vulnerabilities are exposed. There is something to be said about building sites that are not only beautiful and well-thought-out, but also technologically sound, with vulnerabilities mitigated, kept up-to-date all security patches and updates.
Many websites are easy targets for hackers because they tend to be dated, and programmatically speaking, they aren’t very complex systems, making them low hanging fruit for hackers to attack and wreak havoc on. Fortunately for you, there are steps experienced developers can take to avoid such attacks, and ensure your site is not a target.
Slow & Furious.
Your website shouldn’t be treated like a tuner car. More doesn’t always mean better or faster. Websites that are chockablock with plugins, riddled with unused code, and plagued with unnecessary calls to the database, tend to be bloated and slow. The truth is that site speed has become more important than ever. With devices getting increasingly faster, and internet speeds on the rise, it’s important to have a user friendly website that delivers content to users quickly and efficiently.
Slow site speeds hurt the user experience, making the end user frustrated to the point of leaving your site. As your website traffic decreases, so will your search engine ranking. A slow website gets penalized by Google and other search engines, affecting your search engine optimization and burying your site deep in search results, where it becomes harder to find for your customer.
Too many cooks in your back end.
Having too many developers working on your site is not always a bad thing. There are some amazingly talented freelance developers out there that have the experience to work on a professionally developed website, and understand how to develop using best-in-class frameworks.
But like cooks in a kitchen, different developers have different ideas on what technology to use, and even what tools and framework to use throughout the design process. That, coupled with differing work flows, bad habits and personality flaws, can result in a code base that can be messy, bloated and confusing for good developers to make improvements on. And since you can’t go around asking developers if they’re any good, vetting and getting recommendations before hiring one could set you up for a successful and enjoyable website development experience.
It may seem redundant, but clear goals make all the difference when embarking on a new website. More often than not, when I come across a Frankenstein website, it tells me that from the beginning there was never a clear marketing strategy set to guide the design and development of the website. Your website goals don’t have to be far reaching, high level goals like you would establish for a multi-million dollar business. They can be as simple as, “I want people to call me,” “I want to sell products,” or “I want to drive traffic to my social media channels.” Now, there is such a thing as too many goals, which could be another reason for the patchwork. I usually try to keep them to no more than four, different from each other, crystal clear and tangible.
While the thought of taking on your own website build might be an empowering and invigorating idea, the reality is that there are years of user experience knowledge and data, as well as marketing tools and technological nuances that must be considered before even choosing your first font or color. You may opt for using one of the many build-it-yourself services on the web, but unless you have the know-how and experience of creating effective websites that lead the user through a converting experience, you’re just plugging away aimlessly hoping to create something that works. Let the experts do the work.