When starting a new website there are a number of decisions that you will make that can have a huge impact on the long-term success of the site. Many times these decisions don’t seem as important as just getting the site up and running and as a result they don’t get the attention they deserve. Here are 8 decisions that can cripple your chances of building an effective website.
1. Free or Cheap Web Hosting – Many aspiring website owners are tempted by low cost hosting options. It’s understandable that someone would want a low-priced or free hosting company when starting a new website, but this can have serious consequences. Free hosting will be slow and will most likely include ads on your website that you have no control over. Even low-priced hosting tends to be slow and the customer service and support will almost certainly be inadequate.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on hosting. In fact, quality services are very reasonably priced . What you will quickly learn is that your hosting company will strongly influence the performance of your site. When your website goes down because of inferior hosting you’ll understand the true cost of not spending a few more dollars each month for a better option.
2. Not Buying a Domain Name – If you want your online business to be taken seriously, you need your own domain name. Many free hosting services, including blog platforms like WordPress, offer the option of having a website without needing to buy a domain name. Domain names are so inexpensive (can be less than $10 a year at GoDaddy.com) that there’s no reason to not buy a domain. Your domain name is crucial for being able to brand your website.
3. Not Getting the Right Domain Name – Buying the wrong domain name is almost as bad as not buying one at all. Unfortunately, finding the right domain name today is not an easy task. With millions of websites online your first choice will rarely be available. Your domain name should be easily remembered and relevant to your site. Very long domain names can be difficult for visitors to remember, and they increase chances for typos from potential visitors. If possible, choose a .com without hyphens (if it’s not possible to avoid hyphens, don’t use more than one) that contains a keyword. There are a number of tools available to help you to quickly find the right domain name.
4. Designing Exclusively for Search Engines – In attempt to gain strong search engine rankings, the human visitor is sometimes forgotten. Don’t prioritize search engine spiders over your visitors. It’s possible to design a user-focused website that is still search engine-friendly. If your website satisfies its visitors the traffic will come, and most likely so will search engine rankings.
5. Prioritizing the Look Over the Content – A lot of new website owners get excited about the new site and forget that the content is what will ultimately determine it’s success. Sure, a website should look good. But the content and usability of the site shouldn’t suffer at the expense of its appearance. Minimalistic designs are becoming increasingly popular, and one of the biggest reasons is that they allow for the content to be the focal point. Just as much time and effort should go into creating the content as goes into creating the design.
6. Forgetting About the Target Market – Every website is created for some target market or target audience. Try to always keep them in mind as you are creating the site. In order to succeed, you’ll need to provide them with what they want. It’s easy to forget about your target market and design the site how you like it, but what really matters is what your target market will think. Anticipate what they will be looking for at your site and find a way to meet their needs.
7. Poor Navigation – One of the most frustrating experiences for a website’s visitors will be trying to find something specific with poor navigation. The pages and sections of the site should be easy and logical for visitors to maneuver. For larger sites a sitemap and site wide search can be very helpful.
8. Ineffective Keyword Targeting – Part of attracting new visitors is using the right keywords and phrases. In most cases some research will be necessary to find the best words and phrases to target. There are a number of tools available to help with this research (some free and some paid). Google’s keyword tool is one of the better free options.