Creating a website is one of the most rewarding and creative aspects of your business. From bringing your business to life online to crafting emotions you want your customers to have when they see your work or products, your website creates an environment that represents your entire business. But did you know you could be making mistakes that scare your customers away?
Earlier this year we shared 10 Common Website Mistakes to avoid. in which we highlighted the mistakes we’ve seen while doing website reviews. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 scary mistakes that could not just be hurting your website but your business altogether.
1. Questionable logo design
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That may be true, but when it comes to logos, the design that represents your business shouldn’t make people shriek with horror. Have you ever seen a logo so bad that you question if a business was real? Or if the business was still open? Logo design has evolved over the last century, from a complex design that describes every facet of a business to simple iconography.
4 fonts. Too many colors. Please don't do this.
A logo should be simple enough that anyone can understand it, with just a few fonts and simple iconic details. Think of every major brand or logo you’ve seen throughout history. Most brands have gone to great lengths to simplify and take a minimalist approach with design and color.
Your logo creates a mood, so make sure it expresses the one you want your customers to feel while instilling confidence in your company. Make simple choices, select a few colors, and make sure it’s large enough to be visible (and legible). Remember it will go on your website, business cards, invoices, and more. It is important that you feel confident in your branding.
Learn more about logo and color theory on the PhotoBiz Growth Hub:
Navigation is one of the key components of a great website. It allows for easy access to your content and helps determine the user experience. Your website navigation should make it easy for your customers to get information about your products and services.
We typically recommend having up to seven items in the main navigation menu. Those should get people to the core pages of your website (your home, about, and contact pages). Next, we recommend including essential pages for a photographer, such as a gallery, testimonial page, and pricing pages. After that, the rest is what we consider non-essential. This where some businesses can go off the rails with too many links in the main menu or drop-down menus options. Have you ever seen a menu that has a menu within a menu? Cue the Inception memes.
If it takes tons of pages to tell your business’s story, it may be time to look over what pages you believe are a necessity for your business. Keep it simple.
3. Putting too many things in the footer
Website footers are cool – I like how they can act as a sitemap for your website. It’s a way for more pages to be displayed on the site without using the real estate in the main menu of your website. For those who need more than seven to ten pages, it is a great resource. But I’ve also seen it become a catch-all for whatever remains – buttons, badges, newsletters subscriptions, Google and Facebook review links, testimonials, view counters, Instagram feeds, keywords, maps – you name it.
I back away slowly from a site that hits you with a barrage of things in a footer. The footer shouldn’t be filled with clutter. It should be well thought out and used with a purpose. Yes, place links or badges there! Sure put a newsletter form there, but make sure it is designed with a purpose. Just like a navigation menu, your footer should be user friendly.
4. Visible keyword stuffing
Okay, I know this one might hurt, but you have to let go. What you did for SEO a decade ago might not be doing what you expect it to do today. In fact, it may be hurting your rankings. I see you stuffing the name of every surrounding city, county, and type of photography you do on your pages. Google AI learning (the algorithm that allows websites to rank high or low) is looking at your site like this and it ranks sites stuffed with keywords lower.
We see you tucking it in places all over your site.
When Google AI reads that sort of keyword stuffing, it immediately has 2 thoughts:
This website is trying to cheat the system
This website is fake
Google’s AI is trying to learn to be more human, scary I know. But that means it wants to read engaging and real thought out sentences and language, not something copied and pasted like it is from a yellow pages listing.
Thoughtful and engaging content that makes users stay on the pages longer is what search engines are looking for. The more you put into that type of content and blogs the more desired results you will have for your website. Let go of the keyword stuffing, I promise it won’t hurt.
Learn more about SEO and how to make sure you’re doing it right:
Have you been to a site that has a great deal to tell you about? Then a newsletter for you to subscribe to? Or an article that highlights 10 things they want you to know about what to wear for winter sessions? All of these notifications popping in and out of your screen as soon as you land on the site?
As a customer, when this starts happening I am quickly clicking off or away from the site.
Pop-ups are a powerful tool but they can also be very intrusive. When someone comes to your site they don’t want to immediately be hit with deals and promotions. If you have a promotion, be subtle or wait a few seconds before you launch into the pitch.
Next, don’t do more than one pop-up! One is enough, if they have to click off more than one to get to what they want, a customer will start to feel overwhelmed and be more likely to leave the site. Just like in-person sales, you can’t force a sale online. You have to be patient and use your other resources like social media and blogging to drive attention where you want it.
Have you been to a website where every page requires you to scroll to reveal a portion of the details on the page? Don’t get me started on the ones where information disappears after you scroll past it and then you have to watch an animation again when you scroll back to it.
These loading animations are harking back to the time of flash animations. At the height of their popularity, flash websites were small and unique with one animation that played to load the entire page or site. Now animations can be on every object within a page. This might give a feel of gravitas, or luxury to some, but for most users, the experience is wasted time and can be quite slow on mobile devices.
Multiple loading animations Just seems redundant. Big brands use animations for an experience that can feel unique, but that can also slow down a customer’s buying experience. It could also slow down your site with extra code that weighs heavy on page loading.
Speed is important when it comes to websites, nearly 80% of customers leave a site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. So why create more barriers for yourself? A fast loading website is what Google and your customers are looking for. Skip all the fancy animations and keep it simple.
There was a time when having music play on your website when people arrived was the cool thing to do. Not so much anymore. It can make people leave your site really fast!
What once felt like a cute way to make your users feel welcomed, now is considered a deterrence. Customers don’t want to be bombarded with auto-playing music or videos. Not only is it forcing them into an experience, but it also takes away the customer’s ability to choose their own preferences.
Your taste in music might not be the same as your customers, and those are the types of things you have to be wary of when trying to appeal to customers. Let your customers search in silence or with their own soundtrack.
Don’t, I repeat, don’t have music auto-play on your website.
8. Name, address, phone number are nowhere to be found
This might be a shocker, but if I don’t know you personally, I might not know where you live and work. Easily accessible contact information is important to let customers know where your business is located and how they can get in touch with you. I frequently see sites that require you to go crawling through pages to find an address.
Make it easy for your customers to find your name, address, and phone number on your website. Put them in easy to view areas like the header or the footer, and on a contact page. This is important both for people who visit your site and search engines.
I know you love that photo you shot in 2013 and that one session you did in 2008 really was cool. Keyword: was. The way things look 10 years ago, in terms of fashion, lighting, hair, make-up, even style of shooting, has changed. Whenever I look at an old picture I shot I exclaim in horror:
Even this reference is outdated!
Our tastes change over time as well. Something you loved a decade ago might seem retro or outdated to your newer customers so it is wise to always keep your content refreshed and new quality if possible, but definitely annually. Always try to refresh your galleries images, your words on your site, and even your logo and site templates. Being current is the best way to make sure clients know you’re evolving with the times and that your business is active. Leave them reminiscing to when you get to catch up with clients you’ve had for years, your website should focus on attracting new ones (and retaining your existing ones).
10. Underdeveloped homepage
Your homepage is the most visited, distinct, and valuable page on your website. This core page is absolutely the one that deserves the most attention. So why would you leave it empty or lacking information? Think of your homepage as your 60-second elevator pitch.
Your homepage is where you get to show off, and often where you get to make your first impression so make sure it articulates everything your business does best. Give people details of how you can make a customer’s life better, and enrich their life. Highlight the unique experience you offer. Show off your best current work through photos or videos. And encourage people to go deeper into your site and contact you right away.
Whatever you do, make your homepage sell you right away.
Make sure you avoid these scary website mistakes and let us know if you need help. Our support team is just a phone call (866.463.7620) or email away. And if you don’t want to do it yourself, our Pro Services team is available to refresh your site for you. We want to make sure your website is helping make you profitable and not scaring customers off from hiring you.