How to Solve the Problems with Your DIY Website
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They all told you that you needed a website. If you had one, you could show off your business, explain what you do, and hopefully, attract more clients. You thought it would be easy. After all, content management systems like WordPress and website builders like Wix should make the process more doable, right?
That brings up a question for many people who have made their own do-it-yourself website: Why isn’t my website doing what it’s supposed to do? DIY websites can sometimes be easy to set up, but what business owners don’t always realize is that having a website isn’t enough. To get the most out of your website, you have to know more than how to copy and paste content into a template. Here are some of the issues that can derail your efforts to reach your target audience and a few tips for solving them.
Problem #1: Your generic website makes you look ordinary.
When you pay for a template or a theme, you’re buying something that isn’t quite unique. Even if you try to customize it to suit your style and brand message (which can be difficult), the website is going to have a generic feel. Your business’s unique identity is hidden inside a generic box that says nothing interesting about who you are and what you do, and certainly doesn’t consider who your audience is.
SOLUTION: To go beyond the ordinary, you need to know more about creating websites than what you can learn by playing around with a DIY template or theme. A professional web designer can create a custom website for you that expresses your brand message and business personality in every way possible. And, if you would still rather stick with a website from Wix or WordPress, a website designer experienced in customizing them can help you achieve the individuality that sets you apart.
Problem #2: You’re building the site for yourself, not for your target audience.
Having a generic website is bad enough, but when you just add whatever suits you, your website fails to serve its main purpose. That is, it fails to connect with your target audience. To do that, you have to know what they’re all about, what terms they search for, what images they like, and what prompts they are most likely to respond to. You have to give them the content and images they want – not what you want. For example, unless your target audience is pet lovers, no one wants to see you with your dog. You may absolutely adore the photo, but if it doesn’t speak to your intended audience, it’s worse than worthless. It’s a distraction.
SOLUTION: No matter what else you do, always keep your target audience in mind. You need a website that helps you stand out from the crowd. What you don’t need is for potential customers to click away because they don’t like the same things you do. So, unless you are your own ideal client, forget about what you like and focus on them.
Problem #3: There’s no call to action.
One of the biggest problems with DIY websites is that there’s no great way to include a call to action. The template might allow you to put a button that says “Click Here” on your site, but that just isn’t very enticing, is it? You need a call to action that will prompt potential clients and customers to jump eagerly to take advantage of the incentive you’re offering them when they click. They don’t automatically know what you want them to do or what they’ll get when they do it. If you can’t tell them that in a couple of seconds, they’ll move on.
SOLUTION: Always consider who your website visitor is and what they need. You won’t reach them if you can’t help them in some way. You have to find their pain points and give them appealing solutions. Then, you need a specific call to action that tells them exactly what they have to do, whether it is to fill out a form for a free estimate, download a helpful checklist, or give their email address in exchange for an ebook. When they know what to do to get something they want, they’ll not only have a chance to get something useful, but they’ll have a more satisfying experience on your site, too. At the same time, you connect with another interested consumer.
Problem #4: Your website’s navigation is a mess.
Does the navigation on your site look like you just added links randomly as they popped into your head? Do-it-yourself websites are notorious for having problematic navigation. Sometimes, it’s inadequate to guide your visitor around the site, but it can be even worse. Sometimes it actually makes it harder for them to find what they want. It can also make you look unprofessional. If your navigation runs off the screen because the user has a screen size you haven’t prepared for, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. If a user can not find something useful to them within a very short amount of time, they’re going to leave your site.
SOLUTION: Keep your navigation simple. Don’t overcomplicate your navigation links in an effort to cover all possible use scenarios. Instead, focus on the key information that your website visitors will want to see. Lay it out logically with a sitemap template. Bonus tip: sign up for Google Analytics and install the tracking code on your site. You can then see what pages people are going to (and what pages they’re not), how long they’re spending on a page, what they’re clicking on, and a lot of other information that can help you make more purposeful and strategic changes to your site.
Problem #5: You’ve abandoned your site.
If you do manage to get your website built and it seems to be getting the response you were going for, that’s great. The problem comes when you think that’s all there is to having a website. You’ve built it, and now clients will come, right? They might, but if you don’t keep working with your site to keep it maintained and change it to evolve along with your business, your effort was largely wasted. Updates take up a lot of your valuable free time, so you either work when you’d rather be enjoying yourself or you abandon your website altogether. Not only will you lose potential clients, but failing to pay attention to your site makes you an easy target for hackers.
SOLUTION: The only solution you can do yourself is to attend seminars or take courses to learn how to update and market your website. Lynda.com and other tutorial sites have course that can help you. The problem with that is it takes up even more of your time. Is that what you’re looking for? A time-eater? Remember, your time is valuable. If you can’t afford to spend the time, then find a way to afford a professional that can help keep your site up-to-date, help you with marketing your site, and help your site become more successful for your business.
Problem #6: Your site is lagging behind the technology curve.
Technology moves at a rapid pace. What might have worked well in the past might be a problem now. Flash templates were once the thing, but technology has moved on. If your site tells users they need to upgrade their Flash player, you’ve missed the mark. They’ll rush off your site instantly. What’s more, if you built your site two years ago and haven’t done anything with the code since then, your site might be riddled with security issues and code errors. Potential clients might not be able to use it on their mobile device. In short, your website is no longer of interest to today’s users.
SOLUTION: To solve this problem, you have to spend even more time checking over the structure of your site. You have to research changes in technology and assess how they’re affecting the usability of your site. If you have WordPress or another content management system, you have to make sure you have the latest version of its core. If you have a website builder like Wix, you have to continually change to newer themes with newer code. Before long, you’re spending more time keeping your website on track than you are in running your business. Or, you can simply hand off the work to a professional website designer who already knows the ins and outs of building a website and who is already keeping up with the latest changes. In the end, it isn’t just easier; it’s also the best way to stay out in front of the competition.
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