Top 5 Website Mistakes Business Owners Make (And How You Can Avoid Them!)
As a web designer and developer, I'm knee-deep in websites every single day. I see it all – the good, the bad, and the downright cringe-worthy. It's a wild website world out there, and there are some common slip-ups that can send website visitors running for the hills and leave Google side-eying your site.
That’s why today I’m letting you in on the top five website mistakes I see entrepreneurs make day in and day out. And perhaps more importantly, how you can avoid them. Read on, and don’t be caught losing rankings and leads.
Disclaimer: firstly, this post not made to make you feel bad about your website or make you think you need to hire someone to make your website perfect. If you are DIYing your website, good for you! I am proud of you and support you. These are simply my tips to help you make your website even better.
Second disclaimer: Please don’t come at me saying my website isn’t the perfect 10/10 example of these principles. I KNOW. I’m trying.
I say all the time: “the builder’s house is never finished.” So do as I say, not as I do, ok??
Here are my top 5 website mistakes I see business owners making on a daily basis.
Using AI to create all of their content
Don’t get me wrong, I am as much of a fan of AI tools as the next person. But we have to remember they are exactly that - TOOLS. They are not a replacement for sharing your unique perspective and expertise.
That’s why I don’t like when I see business owners entering prompts like “Write me a 1,500 word blog about the top 5 website mistakes entrepreneurs make” then copying and pasting the output exactly as is. Google's got a keen eye for that kind of AI-generated content, and won’t rank it as high as human generated content. So let's take a cue from Google's guidelines on AI content and SEO and keep things authentic.
Instead of copy and pasting AI outputs, I recommend using AI as your copywriting buddy:
- If you’re stuck for ideas of what to create content about, ask AI to generate a list of 5 blog ideas about [insert your topic]
- If you’ve written a blog post, feed it to AI and ask then to generate an intro paragraph in a [insert your tone of voice]. You can do this for a closing paragraph, too.
- If you have a blog topic already, ask AI to generate an outline for the blog post. Then fill in the gaps using your your knowledge and expertise.
- If you’re stuck on a paragraph or concept, write it all out without editing or holding back. Then feed it to the AI tool and ask it to improve this paragraph for better sentence structure and flow.
Using AI tools on your website in this way will still allow you to speed up your workflow process without compromising your website’s Google ranking AND still allow you to share your unique expertise.
While commonly seen as an afterthought for small business owners that are just getting started, Privacy Policies are crucial for instilling trust and a sense of professionalism with website visitors. Not only that, but they may be a legal requirement for your area or industry.
Slow page speed
Imagine this: you've put your heart and soul into crafting an incredible website. But here's the deal-breaker when it comes to getting your website to show up on the Google search results page – page load speed.
Fast loading pages are the secret sauce to delivering great user experiences. And let's face it, users aren't the most patient bunch. They won't stick around for a slow-loading site, they'll swiftly navigate away, leaving you stranded. Give your page speed a boost with the below tips:
- Optimise your images. Large image files can significantly slow down page load times. You can use free tools like compressjpeg.com to make your images smaller to help increase your page load speed.
- Reduce unnecessary plugins and third-party scripts. Each plugin and script adds additional code to your website, which can lead to slower loading times. It's important to only keep plugins and scripts that provide essential functionality.
- Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tools to test your website and make improvements as necessary.
You know those annoying popups of the 2000s that felt like a personal attack when they opened and told you in flashing letters “YOU HAVE WON!! Click below to claim your prize” and made it darn near impossible to close out of them?
Luckily the days of those popups are mostly behind us. But something I still come across on websites today, which are almost just as bad as the cursed popups of the 2000s, are newsletter sign up popup.
You know the ones that popup and say “Sign up to your newsletter for 10% off”?
Stop doing this!
It’s an intrusive experience for your website visitors and Google will punish you poorly for it in terms of your search rankings. Instead, what you can do is have a banner on the top of your website that users can “x” out of or click into the offer.
Example of a banner you can do instead:
Not being accessible for all users
According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, website accessibility refers to the “inclusive design and development practices aimed at ensuring that websites and web-based content can be accessed and used by all individuals, including those with disabilities. It involves creating websites that are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.”
In practice, what this means for business owners is their websites need to be built with accessibility in mind. This can look like:
- Ensuring your images have alt text with meaningful descriptions
- Having the correct colour contrast ratios on your website design and not relying on colour alone to dictate important emphasis on your website - this is a BIG one I see a lot in trendy designed websites. What looks good is not always accessible to all users.
- Using clear and readable fonts
- Testing your website with a screen reader
The above list is just a starting point. You can also use free tools to check your website accessibility, like https://www.accessibilitychecker.org
Now we’ve run through the top five website and web design mistakes I come across on a daily basis, and how to avoid them. I hope these insights can help you dodge the pitfalls and take your website to new heights.
Remember, AI tools are amazing, but don't rely on them blindly – infuse your unique voice and perspective into your content.
Speed matters, so optimize those load times like a pro.
And for the love of user experience, ditch those intrusive popups!
Lastly, make your website accessible to all – because inclusivity rocks.