In doing research for Ethical Fair I spend a lot of time reviewing websites to find ethical information & validate listing requests. Over the last two years I’ve encountered a range of different website styles and I see the same mistakes time and again. In no particular order, here are the top things that make me go ‘eek’ when I hit your ethical website.
1. Pre-Site Call to Action
Don’t ask me to follow you or sign up to your newsletter before I’ve even gotten to your site. This is a really common thing, even on professional websites, and it really irritates me. In order to get to the homepage I have to ‘skip’ or ‘cancel’ a sign up box. How could I possibly know at this stage if I find your brand interesting enough to follow?
Solution: Add clear sign up boxes to your header or footer. If you have listings of any kind, show a sign up link every ten listings or so. Signing up will be far more interesting to customers after they have learned the value of your site.
2. Contact Forms
It’s 2017. I have approximately 400 email addresses. If I want to contact you then let me have yours! Don’t force me to fill in a form with information that is already in my email, such as my name & email address.
If you really insist on me using your pre-built form, make sure you display a submission confirmation so I’m confident the message has been sent.
Solution: Provide your contact email address in your website footer. Provide your email address on any contact form you do use.
3. Boilerplate Text
If you’ve used a template for your website make sure you remove all boilerplate text. It looks really unprofessional to see text such as ‘Add Heading Here’ or dummy links such as ‘twitter.com/yourusername’.
Solution: Click every single link on your website before you make it live. Ideally ask for multiple reviews by friends or family.
4. Opening New Tabs/Windows
Unless you are linking to an external website the links on your website should not open a new tab or window. If I want to open a specific page in a new tab I am quite comfortable using the ‘New Tab’ command in my browser.
Solution: Use the default behaviour of linking unless you have a valid reason. It should be the exception, not the rule.
5. Music or Video
Please, please, please do not autoplay music or video when I land on your site. I may be on the bus. I may be browsing for a gift while sitting beside my partner. I may want to choose my own music on my own computer from my own collection!
Solution: Add the music or video to the page with a play button. If it’s a vital element of your brand entice customers to click play with interesting copy.
6. Homemade Design
Know your strengths. If you cannot tell me what a DIV is then you cannot build your own website! Instead of struggling with IT, which is likely not your main area of expertise (or even your interest) use a product that will allow you to fill in a pre-built template, e.g. WordPress or Squarespace. These template providers are much more suitable than a custom-built site if your budget is low despite the initial ramp up time.
If IT really intimidates you outsource this to a web designer & save your energy for your core mission. If cost is an issue, consider that the hours you will spending blindly finding your way will very quickly add up to the price of a reasonable template or services of a junior designer.
Solution: Use a template-based website service like WordPress or Squarespace or outsource your website to a designer.
7. Forced Mobile Version
If you have a simpler mobile site, with less functionality/information, don’t force users to stay on it. Most modern phones and tablets can handle regular websites. Allow the end user to choose to ‘Switch to Desktop Site’ if they prefer it. Forcing a mobile site on a customer is also annoying if the customer is used to using your site on a desktop & knows that navigation very well.
Solution: Have a ‘switch to desktop’ link in the footer of your mobile website. But ideally have a responsive website. If using a template-based service, always select a responsive template.
8. Split Content
Keep your site simple and don’t break your content into unnecessary chunks. If you have 3 paragraphs about your ethics, don’t split this into 3 pages. Simply create a well spaced page that contains all three paragraphs with appropriate headings. At times my internet connection can be slow and nothing is more irritating than landing on a page that only has 2 lines of text.
Solution: When considering split pages, ask yourself if you would start a new page in a notebook if you were writing the information by hand. If not, you need better layout & not a new page.
9. Unknown Status
Make sure you update your copyright date so that the site appears current. A site with a copyright of 2013 may appear to be forgotten. Similarly, if you are going to display news or link to a blog ensure the content is updated each month. Otherwise customers may perceive your site as inactive. Any question mark surrounding your site status won’t generate enough trust in your customers to spend their money or provide their data.
Solution: Update at least one of your dated channels every month (i.e. news, blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram) so customers know you are still there (of course more regularly is even better). If you really don’t want to engage in social media remove the links from your website.
10. Instant Chat
First off, if you are going to implement this feature you need to be online regularly to support it. I am really tired of click those ‘Speak to us’ widgets only to read their online voicemail ‘We are not here right now but please leave us a message’.
Secondly, please check how this feature looks on mobile. I recently abandoned a purchase because on every new page the chat box popped up & I had to scroll around to cancel it.
Solution: If this feature isn’t manageable or doesn’t add value please just axe it – for some reason it became a ‘must have’ that I never understood.
Next up in the Ethical Business Series: Auditing your Ethical Website