You have just taken delivery of your sparkling new website, full of specially optimised content and are looking forward to a rosy future of high quality traffic. At first you are not disappointed, and the compliments and business roll in. Fast forward a few months, and somehow the website doesn't look so fresh, despite all your efforts keep it updated with new information and content.
The thing is, most people pay a lot of attention to their website while it is being developed, but that attention starts to drift away over time, and almost everyone drifts into time-saving activities. The gradual accumulation of these can ruin your perfect website.
Here are our top five:
1. Content-free content
My son creates movie trailers for pretend films, and has a knack for writing phrases that make the 'film' sound really great, especially when paired with the moving images. He writes things like 'It was just an ordinary day until... it wasn't'. He has a a real skill is in writing exciting-sounding words that convey absolutely no idea of the plot of the film.
Exciting trailer-text works great for films that do not exist and therefore have no plot. It doesn't work so well for your website. You want to give away to the plot. Take the time to think about your message and then commit to that message using words with concrete meaning, and that have meaning for your customers.
2. Using bold text to head your paragraphs
We all have learned that headings are good for breaking up text and keeping attention, especially online. Many editors in a hurry will just make their heading a single line of text and make it bold, like this one below:
This is no good to anybody.
For websites there is special markup to indicate that a heading is a heading and you can nest them very nicely. On our AlbanyWeb websites we make it easy to use the correct markup via our easy editing interface, and we give our clients instructions on how to do it. If you find that you cannot easily add the correct markup to your headers, you should have a discussion with your web developer.
3. Content in the wrong place.
We have seen many good, and fully-featured websites where all the information is out of date, except for one section. Which has everything. There might be an events calendar, with nothing in it. All the events are contained in a news article which is updated once a year instead. Little bits of updates and announcements start appearing in strange places. In the worst case, all updates are abandoned and only done in Facebook instead.
Websites like this are like office buildings where all the doors are locked, and each year, more keys are misplaced. Less and less of the building gets used.
How do you avoid this? Making sure everyone involved in the website has enough training to use all of it, and ensuring that training gets passed along. One of the reasons we have created our Editing Guide, freely available for anyone to consult, is to help avoid this problem.
4. Not adding alt text to images
When time is short, it is easy to skip this step. We recommend always taking to the time to add a little bit of descriptive text to all your images - it is such an easy way to improve your website in all kinds of ways (and we discuss it in detail in another blog post: How 'alt text' for images is your best friend).
Most websites nowadays make it easy to add this - if you cannot add 'alt text' to your images, you should speak to your website developer.
5. Never, ever getting to the point!
The place for densely-worded long introductory paragraphs is not your website. Make your first sentence count and make it stand out. If you take ages to get to the point, no one will stick around to find out what it was.