10 reasons why websites fail …

 … and how to fix them!

The best time to fix website content is when you build the website. The second best time to fix the content is today!

Good content is actually all about good strategy! Creating a new website is a 5-step process.

  1. strategy
  2. design
  3. build
  4. content
  5. publish

Right near the end of the website design and development process, the wording for the website arrives. In most cases, the text has been extracted from years of brochures, profiles, documents, presentations and advertisements. There is also usually also a fair volume of “copy-and-pasting” off Wikipedia and competitors’ websites.

The most difficult kind of website is one where they IS no real content. Instead, there’s a whole set of clichés phrases about “Simply the best” or “We put the customer first.”

#1: Me, Me Me!!

Symptoms:

Clients mostly provide company-centric content.  I really want to please the person paying my bills, but that wouldn’t be in their best interests! They will chase away potential customers, and I aim to build websites that work and grow their business!

Business owners assume website content is all about their business and products. Facts are copied off spec sheets. In reality, readers don’t care about your company — they want to know what your company can do for them.

How I fix it:

Find out what benefits the products or services provide your intended audience. Does it make their lives easier? Make them healthier? Wealthier? Sexier? How? Turn features into benefits whenever possible. Right from Day 1, you’ll find I’ve been asking these questions, to keep both design and content on track.

#2: Long-Winded

Symptoms:

Meaningless filler paragraphs force visitors to wade through oceans of verbal diarrhea. Most visitors cringe and hit the back button. Uninspiring lists of facts and spec sheets. Dry, mind-numbing text that reads like a manual. Consumers don’t read manuals for kicks, nor do they want to drag themselves through lame content.

How I fix it:

The solution is KISS — Keep It Short and Simple. Define, craft and refine key messages so the website will be able to communicate a more with fewer words. 80% of readers only scan web content. Make your headlines catchy. There are great blogs on clickable headlines all over the internet.

#3: Vague

Symptoms:

Fluffy messages don’t describe your core competence. Often wording and photos are so generic, they apply equally to any competitor.

How I fix it:

Explore and research how the company’s offerings are unique. If you don’t make an effort to tell buyers why you are the best choice, you become a commodity with small profit margins and customers that switch to any brand to save a few cents.

#4: Hype

Symptoms:

When you have nothing to say, CRANK UP THE VOLUME!!! Exclamation marks and empty hype about being “simply the best”.

How I fix it:

Convey meaningful reasons why customers should be interested. Make appealing claims, and back them up with real life stories. Visitors want exciting, fun, interesting, helpful content.

#5: Errors

Symptoms:

Nothing says “amateur” more than misspelled words, poor punctuation and dreadful grammar.

How I fix it:

If you see errors like the wrong use of their, there, they’re, it’s, its, then, than, etc., it’s worth adding to the budget for a good editor. (P.S I’m a trained copy editor!)

#6: Stiff & Formal

Symptoms:

Many people believe that highly formal language suggests maturity and superiority, and use it in a bid to demand respect. Never use a short word when a three-syllable monstrosity is available.

How I fix it:

Ease up. Web wording should never be stuffy. Be professional but be charming and unique! The trick for me – I pretend I’m explaining the product or service to my mother.

#7: Jargon

Symptoms:

Jargon and industry terms are supposed to make you sound like an expert. In fact, the confuse and irritate most readers.

How I fix it:

Get a style editor to review the material. Laymen can bring a fresh, objective perspective that connects better with fellow laymen readers. (P.S I’m a trained stylist editor!)

#8: Clichés

Symptoms:

Cute and clever clichés add no value and to encourage readers to engage.  My worst opening sentences are

  • “We put the customer first…”
  • “We engage in authentic conversations …”
  • “At first glance…
  • “As a builder/engineer/resident, you will know…
  • “Observers say…
  • “You are not alone if you think that…
  • “Pundits/Experts/Doctors/Scientists say…
  • “Upon deeper reflection …(why not reflect deeply from the start?)
  • “Needless to say… (then don’t say it)

How I fix it:

Kill the clichés. Just kill them. It’s tacky and won’t help generate credibility OR sales.

#9: Inconsistencies

Symptoms:

Pick a font and stick with it.  Pick three complementary colours, and create a global colour pallet. If links are underlined, they must always be underlined. Inconsistent styles are confusing. Yes, I could create a “designer” look to each of my “How To” articles, but once you have read a few (and I hope you will!), you will hear my voice and know what to expect!

How I fix it:

One of the best things about a website is that you can set up a form to fill in product information, and have a built-in style sheet. This keeps the structure and styles the same, no matter who adds the products.  Establish your company’s “voice” and try to keep with the same webmaster.

#10: Keyword-Stuffed Web Copy

Symptoms:

Web copy aggressively stuffed with keywords shows contempt for the visitor. This is a great tactic only if you’re striving for a 100% bounce rate (the reader takes on look and leaves!) or trying to get knocked off Google’s search index.

How I fix it:

Optimized content is a powerful marketing tool, but don’t allow your SEO expert to get overly forceful and spammy. I’ve seen websites with an “email me” button every few lines. Make sure the web copy caters to both search engines AND people. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting everyone’s time. (P.S I track SEO and readability stats for you!)

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