13 personal website mistakes that could be costing you your business
Professional websites are the new resumes.
That is a good thing. Your information can be accessed more easily and frequently, it can be optimized to show up in search engines, you have more space to share your experiences in creative ways, and most importantly, you can build your web presence quickly, which it ultimately does is synonymous with your professional reputation.
The challenge is that not everyone has experience with HTML, coding, copywriting, or marketing design. You may be a highly qualified expert in your field, but without proper online representation, your work can easily get lost in the noise. Hiring a professional to create your website and “brand” material (even if you are an individual) is always the best course of action. If that’s not an option for you, there are plenty of ready-made templates from hosting websites that you can set up pretty well.
Regardless of how it’s built, if your website isn’t quite where you want it to be, or isn’t generating as much traffic or retention as you’d like, first make sure you’re not committing the following mortal sins. They’re all very common, but thankfully not that difficult to fix.
1. They designed the pages for desktop, not mobile.
In 2018, people access the internet from their phones just as often as they do from computers (some polls show it’s almost a 50/50 split). This means your website must have a mobile-friendly version, where your pages are specifically designed to fit a smaller and different sized screen.
This doesn’t mean that a desktop-friendly version isn’t important. Think about your audience: many professionals will access your site from their computers at work, while clients are more likely to find your information from a bio on social media or when searching for something they need. Make sure your basics are covered and your site is user-friendly on multiple devices.
2. You talk more about yourself than what you can do for others.
When someone reaches your home page, the first thing they should do is see exactly what you can do them. In marketing, this is called spotlighting, and it’s the idea that you should frame your user experience from the perspective of a stranger or potential customer. Instead of focusing on who you are and what you have been doing, put yourself in their shoes and focus first on what you will do, fix or improve in their business and life.
3. You don’t have a clear, concise opening statement about who you are.
Next, you need to explain who you are and why a customer should trust you. A common mistake is that people open their “about” pages with their passions, ideas, and hopes…which sounds nice, but actually doesn’t offer anything of great value. Instead, your bio should start with a sentence or two that summarizes exactly who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
Here is an example:
My name is Amanda and I’m a graphic designer and marketer specializing in website development for small businesses and creative professionals.
4. You don’t show your work.
Saying you’re an accomplished professional doesn’t matter unless you show it Why You are an accomplished professional. After sharing what you do, you need to show your work.
If you’re a designer, make sure your website reflects your best work. If you’re a writer, you publish articles, books, and reviews. If you’re a consultant, post testimonials and links to completed projects. In theory, you shouldn’t have to tell anyone I’m a good designer. You should be able to infer that from what you see.
5. You are do not use statistics or numbers.
The second most important part of “showing your work” is including numbers. If you lead a team, how many people were you responsible for? If you managed a budget, what was it? If you improved sales, what was your margin? If you have written articles, how many? If published, where?
Here is a weak example of work experience:
I was responsible for managing and organizing my own team, brainstorming marketing ideas, building revenue streams and completing various other tasks.
This is stronger:
I managed a team of 10 professionals, created dozens of marketing concepts every two weeks, built two unique revenue streams by $40,000, and increased profitability by 9%.
If you’re just starting out and feel like you don’t have numbers to speak of, get creative. Perhaps you are an author who has only been published in one place. Instead of saying: I only released one piece say: My work was featured on a website with an audience of 9 million/month.
6. The fonts are outdated or difficult to read.
Avoid using fonts like Comic Sans, Papyrus, or others that look outdated. Above all, keep your fonts consistent and use a combination of serif and sans-serif styles. For example, all titles on your pages should have the same font, and the body text should also be the same.
7. Your content is short-lived.
If you don’t need to update your blog every month to keep it relevant, rethink your content. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to open your website and immediately realize that it was created 5 years ago and hasn’t changed since. You want to build your website with evergreen content that isn’t trendy or time-sensitive.
Building your site for this type of content is also a great way to build SEO. Use keywords that people usually look up. For example, instead of saying: This is the official website of designer Amanda Lee, say: Amanda Lee, small business graphic designer from Chicago.
8. You don’t have a registration list.
Building an email list is an amazing marketing tool because it gives you direct access to people who are already interested in you and your work. It’s also a great way to build potential customers. Make sure you have a opt-in option somewhere on your site so people interested in learning more about your work can do so.
9. Your contact page is not easily accessible.
It shouldn’t take you more than a few seconds to figure out how to reach you. You want make it easier for people to get in touch. If you don’t want to make your email address public (few people would), include a form on a separate page that is clearly marked.
10. Your contact page is connected to an unsupervised inbox.
Once your contact page is up and running, make sure messages are routed straight to your main inbox, which you check daily. Being responsive is essential to building relationships and staying on top of opportunities and requests as they arise.
11. Your photos are low resolution and don’t show your face.
People want to put a face to your work, so make sure you have that available. Hire someone to conduct a 30 minute headshot session (you or someone you know probably knows several photographers who would be happy to do this). Not only will it give you a cleaner, more professional look, but it will literally expose your face to the world.
Do not use images that are not directly related to what you are doing. No need to include 10 stock photos of people in meetings or with coffee mugs. You want it to look personalized and unique, and a big part of that is making sure your images are chosen strategically.
12. Your information is not organized.
Your homepage should not be your blog, contact page, portfolio and video journal. To keep everything looking clean and organized, separate different information on different pages and make it easy to read and access. Make sure you don’t use mismatched templates when doing this. Consistency between pages is important to look put together.
13. They offer no value.
For your website to be truly effective, it needs to offer something to visitors. It might be content to read, a free download in exchange for an email subscription, information about the industry that is not widely known, or answers to frequently asked questions.
You want to make your website a place where people do, see, learn or try something. If you offer something of value, engage them at some level and get them to hire you or contact you for more.