This post isn’t really for web designers it is for business owners.
As a visitor, surfer, consumer, etc.–even as a snobby, judgmental designer–I am far more quick to forgive the ugliest of websites as long as they follow these commandments.
First, ask yourself if you really need a website. Over time, I’ve leaned more toward thinking yes, you do. A Facebook page is not enough.
Speaking of Facebook pages–don’t tell people to “like” your page if you’re not going to reward them with anything useful in their News Feed. And, by “reward”, I mean something they’ll be happy to receive. The purpose of your Facebook page is not so you can accumulate “likes” but so you can serve your customers. You gain new customers by serving your existing customers. Repeat that back to me out loud: “I gain new customers by serving my existing customers.”
- Thou shalt provide thy phone number.
- Thou shalt provide thy email address.
- Thou shalt provide thy street address.
- Thou shalt provide thy hours of operation.
- Churches: Thou shalt provide thy service times.
- Golden rule: Provide the above information on the home page.
Seriously. For real. Why are so many of you spending the money (if you spent any) and time to create and maintain a website if, when people get there, there’s no useful information? Why did you get a website? Did you think people would stumble across it accidentally while surfing and discover your business? Let’s suppose, for a moment, that happens. They’ve discovered you and are already pulling out their credit card but … they don’t know where to go or how to find out where they can give you their money … so they leave with only the bitter taste of disappointment in their mouths.
- If you have a “blog” or a “news” page, keep it current.
- If you lack either the time and/or inclination to keep a blog or news page current, remove it.
- If you remove a page, remove links to that page.
As a general rule, I assume that if you don’t care about the quality and effectiveness of your website, you also don’t care about the quality of your product or, perhaps as a potential employee, the management and culture of your company.
Your Website Is Not For You–It Is For Your Customers
- Ask yourself what your customers care about and what they need–not what you care about and/or think they need.
You might be really impressed by the tech behind your product (because the company who sold it to you said you should be) but your customers probably don’t care and don’t need to know.
Why is this important? People looking at your site have a limited amount of time. Don’t waste what precious little time you have their attention by distracting or boring them with superfluous “information.”
Ask your current customers what they need and want from vendors’ websites. Your customers know themselves better than you do.
Domains and Email Addresses
It is possible you simply don’t know that buying a domain means you not only have an address for your website but for your email.
- If you have a website or, even if you bought the domain but never built a site, stop using gMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc.
To say using those email addresses when you have a website or allegedly work for a “real” company makes you look unprofessional is an severe understatement. Amateurish is far worse than “unprofessional” because the definition of “professional” is so subjective. “Amateur” is concrete.