Websites That Don’t Work

The pressure has been on all companies in the last few years to get a website up and running, but it’s apparent that many businesses still don’t understand websites or indeed their potential. When a company decides to have a website its important they understand that it is an ongoing commitment requiring time, input and thought. If a website is not going to actually provide benefit to your customers and visitors, then I’d question the reasoning behind having one at all.

Here are a few examples of websites I have come across lately that are not reaching their potential:
– this website is for a community on the fringe of Brisbane. Given its aggressive growth targets, this website should be selling the community and making it as easy as possible to encourage visits and enquiries. Take a look at the display village page linked from the homepage. Not only is this page different (and less informative) than the display village page in the drop down navigation, but there is no information provided (eg. number of houses, opening times, location etc) that adds any value to a visitor.
– this website provides a typical example of a small retail website. If people are visiting a retail website it is typically for a reason such as:

  • To find out product information (including types, cost, online purchasing)
  • To find out how to get to the store (location, maps, opening hours)
  • To contact the store (contact details, enquiry form)

All pages on the site should be conscious of these potential visitor objectives and in turn should make it easy for a user to undertake these key tasks. This site in particular frustrated me as it didn’t have store hours on the site, meaning I had to make a phone call to find out. Having said that, it is a very common error – and also one that is easily rectified. – this URL was given to me on a piece of promotional material that I received at a conference. I diligently went to the site but was disappointed with what I saw. Not only does this page not include obvious hyperlinks which are referenced in the copy (“Click here to check out Green Zone”) but due to the page layout the form doesn’t show above the fold at all on my screen meaning that on first review the page looks like a dead end. Couple those issues with the fact that the offer seems completely counterproductive (sign up and we’ll plant a tree on your behalf AND send you a 170 page booklet) and I’d question the success of this page.

You’ll notice that the majority of items detailed here are very simple content issues which comes back to the “content is king” mantra. Too often website content is an afterthought yet in essence it is one of the most important things of all.

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