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This article first appeared in Fresno Business Journal
Developing a new website or improving an old one can be a daunting task. There are so many things to keep in mind: the marketing message, the design, the words, the links, the navigation, the keywords, and more. It ain’t easy.
Below are some “don’ts” that I recommend keeping in mind as you build or improve your site.
1. Don’t clutter your home page with mind-numbing information just to keep all the stakeholders in your company happy.
2. Don’t build complicated navigation, which only confuses and frustrates your visitors.
3. Don’t use lots of flash and movement that disorients and distracts your visitor from the really valuable information he is seeking.
4. Don’t build a site with a dark background with light and bright text. This looks very dramatic, but it makes your message almost impossible to read.
5. Don’t develop interior pages with completely different designs. This results in making the visitor think she’s clicked onto another site.
6. Don’t rely on print collateral word-verbatim for the content of your web pages. Your print documents are helpful, but fresh copy should be written for your site that makes use of keywords for search engine purposes.
7. Don’t use lots of text without breaking it up with short paragraphs, bold, links, etc.
8. Don’t use tiny fonts for your main messages.
9. Don’t use “advertisy” language — The Internet is more relaxed.
10. Don’t spend too much time talking about how great your company is. Visitors don’t care. They want to know if you can solve their problem.
11. Don’t get excited if you type the name of your company in the search box and you come up #1. Most likely only you and your mom will write in your exact company name.
12. Don’t skip writing excellent title and description tags.
13. Don’t let your web technical developer set up SEO software that automatically writes your meta tags. A creative human writer needs to do that task for both search and marketing purposes.
14. Don’t upload one page to the Internet with just your contact information, a “coming soon” notice, and then let it sit for months. It doesn’t take that long to build a simple 5-page site. No excuses.
15. Don’t build your site and never refresh it for years and years. A stale site eventually falls in search engine rankings.
16. Don’t neglect to track your analytics, i.e. how many people are visiting, what pages they’re visiting, how long they’re staying, etc. Google has great free analytics. It’s market research that in years past would cost thousands of dollars.
17. Don’t assume your web technical developer or web designer knows anything about marketing your product.
18. Don’t neglect to hire an online SEO writer to help you develop custom content for your web pages. This will do two tasks: Search engines find your pages and rank them higher, and your pages will turn visitors into sales or leads.