Never Design Your Own Website Unless You Know What You’re Doing

A friend of mine (let’s call him John) called up a few months ago to talk about redesigning his business website. He said he designed his website using MS Frontpage. I gave him a number of tips and told him if he ever needed help, he could let me know and I could give him a quote.

Unfortunately, he never came back to me.

So I decided to see how John was doing since he did tell me that he was renewing his domain name.

As I had seen his previous website, this new website of his was much better.

But had he asked me, I would have given him a number of key points. He was essentially a business person, not a web designer. He thought he could save himself the money by designing the website himself.

What I found was, though this new website of his appeared less cluttered than his old website, this new website had a number of problems.

1. It loaded too slowly

Any website which takes more than 10 seconds to load (appear in your web browser) is not going to score points with your customers. Websites should load fast.

2. Missing page titles and keywords

If you want to be found online, your website needs to have page titles and important keywords. I found neither on his website!

3. Missing contact information

What use is a website if it does not give me ways to contact the company? John’s website did not have contact details! Where is the company located? What about phone numbers?

4. Tiny photographs

Photographs on his website were small and unclear. If you want to put photographs on your website, make sure the photos are clear and appropriately sized. Tiny photographs won’t impress nor do justice to your website.

5. Web pages named wrongly

He named his web pages as he liked without thinking of search engines and how people search. Instead of naming webpages as www.yourwebsite.com/page1.htm, www.yourwebsite.com/page2.htm and so forth, he should have named the page itself like www.yourwebsite.com/aboutus.htm and www.yourwebsite.com/ourproducts.htm and more. When people search, they do not ask search engines to find them page1 or page2 of a website. They ask for specifics such as “product” or “company information” pages.

These were just a few of the mistakes I saw on his website. I had not dug deeper yet as I did not have much time to do so but the unfortunate thing is, he does not know this and he’s happily putting this website online.

It is a pure waste of his time and money because the website will not get him the customers he wants. In fact, it will be just another white elephant. Of course he thinks that he’d saved himself a bundle by doing it himself.

The problem is, creating a bad website is as good as being invisible online. And how would you know if you’re invisible online? You never get any enquiries nor business from your website and conclude that the website is a useless marketing tool.

The morale is: start right. Get the right advice before you start any design work on your website. When in doubt, leave it to people who know. Otherwise, do lots of research.

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