At a local WordCamp recently, I critiqued websites from a group of volunteers during a site clinic session.
While I noticed a number of common mistakes — like extra-loud, auto-play videos and other distractions — one of the weird things that stood out was how many real, substantial businesses had problematic web hosting and domain strategies.
With those in mind, I wanted to make sure you aren’t making the same mistakes. Let’s go through some of the worst offenses, shall we?
Mistake #1: Spending more money on business cards than your web host
It boggles my mind that a company with a great physical-world reputation would risk that goodwill by using a subpar web host.
In other words, if your coffee budget is 10 times higher than your hosting budget, you’re probably not getting a premium service.
Also, if your hosting company brags about having millions of customers, they might not be too upset if your site goes down — but the hit to your bottom line will be substantial.
Mistake #2: Choosing a domain nobody can spell or remember
You said “awesome-and-amazing-dot-com?” Was it “theawesome,” “the-awesome,” or just “awesome?”
Sure, many people are going to discover your site through links or search. But having a memorable (and easy-to-spell) domain does help you attract and retain visitors.
You can’t bank on them bookmarking your site during their first visit.
Mistake #3: Building your business website on a platform you don’t own
Digital sharecropping is even worse than a bad domain.
With this mistake, you’re always at risk of losing the web presence you’re working so hard to build.
Mistake #4: Using an impersonal business email address
If you invest in a beautiful website design, then don’t use “@outlook,” “@gmail,” or “@hotmail” for your business’s primary email address.
If you use Outlook or Gmail to pick up and manage your email, that’s totally fine. Just be sure you use your own domain for your email address. You can use an email forwarder or domain settings to get the best of both worlds.
Mistake #5: Redirecting to a mobile site
What was that page you asked for again?
This might be controversial, but in my opinion there is no reason to send your visitors to a separate mobile site that doesn’t correspond to the URL they originally typed.
I wanted to go directly to the dancing kittens, not your mobile website home page.
Responsive design and mobile-first thinking will give your users a great experience no matter what device they’re on, and you won’t confuse site visitors with redirects.
Mistake #6: Providing a slow experience for visitors
Is it acceptable for a web page to take ten seconds to load? Six? How about three?
As it happens, Google will punish you if your site provides a slow experience and visitors quickly hit the “back” button.
When your site has good hosting, site speed is measured in milliseconds.
Mistake #7: Getting an unexpected “this site not found” or “this site is dangerous” message
Do you have a process in place to check your site at least once a day? Are you sure it’s working, and that everything looks the way you want it to? Is your site clean and free of malware or other nasty problems?
You either have to constantly monitor your site … or choose a host that does the monitoring for you (and ideally prevents those types of headaches from happening in the first place).
Mistake #8: Keeping “http,” instead of upgrading to “https”
I was late to this party, but get your site on SSL.
Mistake #9: Falling behind with outdated software and design
Out-of-date versions of site software make your website an easy target for hackers.
And speaking of staying current … when was the last time you updated your web design?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “dress for the job you want.” Make a strong, professional first impression with a clean, modern design.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a custom design, either. Just select a high-quality theme and add your branding flourishes. Choose one that is mobile-responsive and doesn’t take hours to load over 3G.
For example, you could pick up one of the many premium WordPress themes from StudioPress that come bundled with StudioPress Sites.
Mistake #10: Hosting with a company that prevents or punishes your success
This last one will catch you by surprise at the worst moment.
You get your 15 minutes (or 15,000 visitors) of fame, only for your host to tell you … nope! Not on their watch.
They shut you down.
There it is, in the fine print of your hosting contract … you’re only allowed a certain number of visitors or so much bandwidth … which means all your new prospects land on a page that says your website is down.
It’s smart to keep your costs manageable when you’re starting out, but losing potential customers because of penny-pinching isn’t so smart.
If you currently have cheap “hobby” hosting, you need to ask yourself:
“How many clients or customers can I afford to lose to a bad web experience?”
Let us know in the comments below about other business website mistakes you’ve seen or if a company has ever lost you as a client or customer because you had issues using their site.
So, what should you do?
- Sign up for StudioPress Sites. For $27 a month, you’ll get rock-solid, ultra-secure hosting — plus your choice of 21 professional designs you can customize with your own branding, automatic WordPress updates, peace of mind, and the knowledge that when that big traffic spike comes, your site will be up, available, and screamingly fast. (And let’s face it … that investment is probably a lot less than your latte habit every month.) Click here to learn more.
- Select a straightforward domain name, and use it for your site and email.
- Hit that “https” button and upgrade to the SSL version of your site. You might lose some social proof, as your social share counts reset, but it’s well worth it in the long run.