Well, you’re not alone, and it’s giving good web developers a bad rap.
There’s a wide range of reasons why websites don’t work and in this post, I detail what we believe is the necessary minimum inclusions for all website customers, and how to fix a ‘broken’ website.
When I use the word broken, I don’t mean that links don’t work and the design looks off (always). Rather your business website is not doing the job it was intended for – generating interest, grabbing customer’s attention, converting them to take action with your business.
You know… an active marketing tool generating a positive return!
I came up with a list of post titles for this article which collectively best describe the sentiment of a customer whose websites aren’t working:
- Why Your Website is Useless
- When to ask your web developer for a refund
- What to expect when you have a website made
- 9 Mistakes Small business make with website development
- 5 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Working
You see, without these ’necessary website inclusions’, any money you as a small business owner spend on a website, is wasted.
But first what’s been our recent experience with clients recently with websites not working.
3 Weeks, 3 Clients, All Bad News – Business Websites Not Working
In the last 3 weeks I have had 3 clients ask us to review their website after they have paid someone else to build them. The reasons for engaging my agency were mixed:
1) Bad Experience: The experience with the web developer had soured, the time frame exceeded what was originally quoted, or every little extra was costing hundreds of dollars and weeks to implement.
2) Underperforming: No visitors, no forms being filled in and no appearances in search results.
Essentially these small business websites were a useless marketing tool akin to a poorly printed flyer that gets ripped out of letterboxes and dropped straight into the recycling bin.
3) Technical issue and not ‘really’ Mobile Optimised: Hardcoded functions which made it impossible for small business owners to manage the website themselves to any degree; no training on how to post or update the sites; poor rendering on mobile devices and a range of ‘under-the-hood’ technical issues; lock-ins to overpriced service models and restrictive practices designed to stop customer seeking outside help.
In all instances, these small business owners were concerned that the money they had spent had been wasted and the web developers work needed checking, a second set of eyes from someone who ‘knew what they were doing’.
What was most disturbing for me was that amongst these websites were some created by firms that promote themselves as Australia’s largest, Australia best etc. Small business owners have no hope with this behaviour.
Now, I’m not about to point fingers at other web designers and their failings, or not. I don’t know what their contract deliverables were and I believe that no matter how thin you slice anything there’s always 3 sides.
Your side, the client’s side and the truth!
What I do know is that if your website isn’t working for your small business as a marketing tool you need to get it fixed and fast. It’s your digital foundation and if that’ shaky today, you’ve got a real problem.
Why Don’t Web Designers Just Include Everything That’s Needed?
The problem with this question is, what is everything?
Often web developers working with a small business, like Shire Media Services does, encounter business operators that know very little about how the internet really works, what a website actually is and what is needed to make a website work ( get attention, generate leads and market your business).
That’s why they engage a web designer, to take care of all of this for them so they don’t have to learn it all.
Its up to the web developers to educate customers as part of this process that the website development, the actual building and design of the website, is only part of the process.
Its also all of the ‘under-the-hood’ or invisible to human eyes works and the off-site work that impact a website’s ability to positively impact a small business.
Technically creating and publishing the website is just the beginning, and publishing is not the end.
What Should be Included in Every Website Project?
- BASIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
- IMAGES IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY
- SECURE WEBSITE
- DIRECTORY BUSINESS LISTING…LISTED
1) Basic Search Engine Optimisation – This term is so overused and overcomplicated that business owners have no hope of understanding what is needed.
What is clear if that if the basics aren’t done, your business website has far less chance to succeed. So what are the basics fo SEO?
1.(b) Website structured in such a way that humans and machines understand and learn what to expect. Again, use Screaming Frog to test.
For example on Julie Clarke we have a page called ‘Antenatal Birth Courses Sydney’
We also have a page called ‘transition into parenthood’
This page is nested in the Antenatal birth courses ‘folder’…because that’s what it is, an Antenatal birth course. Get it?
2) Images – Images need to be optimised for speed and appearance, named correctly and have all of their tags (ALT) completed in line with the keyword strategy – I’ve previously written about how sorting your website images can improve your website search results.
The physical image optimisation part can be done manually or there are now tools in many CMS systems that do this compression. I’ve written about free image optimisation tools here, so if it’s not being done, the developers are being lazy and not working with your best interests in mind.
A quick note on image naming.
Images come from 2 places essentially – either supplied by the client or from a stock photo library.
In both instances, leaving the image name as what the camera names it or the library names it, is a no-no and under optimised from a search perspective.
I can’t tell you how many times we review sites and the website developers have left the name of the image files as ‘stock_image-hasdjhashdjkh.jpg’. What a wasted opportunity to promote your business.
Either this is pure laziness or incompetence from the web developer. Either way unacceptable.
(3) Secure – Your website needs to be resolving under an https URL with the little green/grey padlock showing your website is secure. This is an important factor for search engines and humans alike in trust and relevance.
Small business websites that have not been touched our updated for a while – that is they are not working and not an active part of the business’s marketing strategy – will not be secure.
If your website is using a CMS platform like WordPress then additional security needs to be included such as obfuscating the admin login page, brute force protection, captcha and/or honeypot implementation for forms to inhibit SPAM and IP blocking on intrusions.
Everything needs to be kept up to date regularly too – all themes, plugins etc. Its worth paying a small monthly fee to ensure this is sorted.
If you’re not a website customer, then we have a $47 per month website security and maintenance program which takes care of all of this for you.
In addition to this work, extra care is needed at a server layer directly with use of The Persishibale Press 6G blacklist for the extra layer of security beyond what a ‘plugin’ can offer is essential.
BUT, your web developer should either be recommending you do this or at least as part of the website launch, this needs to be done.
Simple things like:
– making sure all of your small business details are correct and up to date
– making sure your MAP pin of your business address is correct
– uploading some quality images to your Google myBusiness page
– Updating or requesting a change to the street view picture if its not great
– Using their simple website builder to create a time 1-page vision of your website with a link to your main site
– Asking customers for Google reviews
– Creating short posts or events
NAP (Name Address Phone) information on your website needs to be present on every page and the web designer needs to find a way to integrate this into the design of the page. This NAP information needs to be consistent with what’s listed on your Google myBusiness Page
So whilst this is not strictly website development or design, it’s such a critical part in the website succeeding in local markets, that not do this is a huge oversight.
These directory listings helps to elevate your business in the search page rankings and elevate your website and businesses credibility and relevance.
Business owners can do this themselves, but again, it has such a positive impact on promoting the website in search results, we provide it for free as part of our web development services.
We also provide free service for other customers for Top 20 directory listing.
All we ask is, that if they are happy with the result they leave a Google Review. Learn more about the Free Directory Listing Service here.
Boost your local search ranking for free!
Free Australian Business directory site submission services
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Shire Media Services are your Local Digital & WordPress Web Design specialists for Sutherland Shire Small Businesses.
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