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Web Dude
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153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Recently there has been some static about DIY vs Pro when it comes to websites, and I realize some of you guys are still leaning towards DIY.

While I always stand by the reasoning that a web dude is going to be able to do it better-faster-stronger-quicker, here are a couple of tips to help you DIY boys out.

The 10.5 mistakes web DIYers make and How to Avoid Them

Because this post is so long, here's a Table of Contents

1. Not having a clearly defined strategy.
2. Not building it on a CMS
3. Poor Design
4. Poor Copy
5. Bad Optimization
6. Too Much Crap
7. Not Enough Compelling Stuff
8. No Contact Information Capture System
9. Ignoring Web Stats
10. Developing the Ron Popeel Attitude - Set it & Forget it!

10.5 is a surprise, you'll have to read the article to find out what it is.


1. Not having a clearly defined strategy.

This is the absolute hands down biggest problem any website will face. If you've read any of my other posts you know how preachy I get about web strategy, but there is a big reason.

Without a crystal clear set of goals and the tools you're going to use to accomplish them, your website is going to flop.

Everyday I see websites that look like they just got stuck up there, or somebody made one "because everyone else has one". I know I'll get static for saying this, but not everyone needs a website.

Before you even entertain the thought of building one, or having one built, please please please think about what your website is going to do, and how it's going to fit into your sales process. If you can't come up with an answer, you either don't need one or you need to talk to an honest web person about how you could use a website.

Just having one to have one isn't going to bring home the bacon.

2. Not building it on a CMS

I've talked at great length about the power of a Content Management System (CMS) here on the board. In my professional opinion, it is the only way to build a website now.

A good CMS will make it a million times easier to change the look of your site without having to redo everything, update content, and add pages and functionality. What would take you a couple of days with HTML and CSS takes you maybe hours with a CMS.

Make the change.

3. Poor Design

Better looking websites convert more often than ugly ones. It's a cold hard fact, but it is absolutely true. However, there is a lot more to good design than just looking good.

Two things are important to remember when you are designing: how easy is it going to be to use, and what kind of weight does it give my content.

If your website is cluttered and choppy, you look less professional and people are going to be confused about what to do next or where to go.

Confusion on the web is a killer, because there are a million other sites the visitor can go to that are easier to use, and it doesn't cost them anything to do it.

Don't force them to bug out because your site hurt their head.

Hierarchy can easily be achieved with design.


Your call to action for example, is more important than other elements of your design. So you make it bold, or you make it red, or you make it bigger. Something to draw attention to it, because you want them to take action. That's page hierarchy.

Don't go overboard with making things important, one or two things should stick out per page.


4. Poor Copy

If your copy doesn't move along the process, what will? An absolute killer of websites, crap copy will make the most well designed web site a lame duck.

Your web copy is often the first (and sometimes the only) communication that you have with a potential customer. If it isn't compelling, what's going to drive them along the sales process . . . ?

Write how you talk. Don't sound like a salesy robot, write like your talking to them in an in house consultation

Use headings and sub headings, make paragraphs short.

When you scan a page do you get what it's about?

How easy is the language to read and understand?


Little Timmy should be able to tell Mommy and Daddy all about how bitching your additions/kitchens/baths/foundations/roofs/tile/brickwork is.

5. Bad Optimization

SEO changes just about every 4 hours. Well, maybe not that fast, but it's always in a state of flux. Often times DIYers get old and outdated information and in SEO old and outdated information is something written 6 months old.

If I had a nickel (here comes my grandpa talking) for every time somebody wanted to do a link exchange, or join a directory, or keyword spam, or ghost text keywords, or whatever else worked 5 years ago for there site, I would be an incredibly wealthy young man.

One keyword per page.

Pay attention to density.

Only gather relevant links from more powerful sites than yours, and make sure they are one way only.

Pay attention to how many links are on that page, yours will be devalued by the amount of link juice spread around
. I could go on and on, but a better bet is to pay someone for SEO.

6. Too Much Crap

A lot of DIYers had someone tell them it was important to put things "above the fold". So they put everything above the fold. Or they information overload on the homepage, because that's often times the only page people see.

Tisk, tisk, tisk tisk tisk.

White space is key.

Home pages are for general outlines, use inline pages to go further in depth. Get your message across as quickly and simply as possible.


This works for design too. If it looks really cool, and distracts visitors from taking action, chop it off. Only keep that which moves the process along.

I promise you no one is coming back to your site just to check out your slideshows/galleries/popups/animations/swirly funky crazy stuff. If used correctly, they are all great tools to move the sale along. But if they are just there to fill a space or look cool, chop it.

7. Not Enough Compelling Stuff

Your website isn't a business card. You've got all the room in the world to play, so fill it with relevant content. By relevant content I mean stuff that is going to help position you as an expert or keep you top of mind when it comes time to buy.

8. No Contact Information Capture System

So you've listened to all the other stuff I've said so far, and you've got a pretty A OK site going. So people come, they like what they see, it's easy to use, you've got them hooked.

But you don't have a way to capture their details so that you control the marketing tempo.

How many times do you think people are coming to your site that are just researching you against your competition, and aren't ready to buy today?

Now let's say you have a tool that captures there contact info, and you shoot them a couple of messages over the course of a couple weeks. The competition has a website like you used to have, without anything like that. All of a sudden it comes time to buy, and they customer doesn't even remember anybody else but you, because you were always there giving them info, keeping them updated, building that relationship.

Pretty powerful tool, no? And 99.9% of websites (both pro and DIY) don't use it. ####ing insane.

9. Ignoring Web Stats

Google Analytics is free, and probably the most powerful set of reporting tools I've ever used. Each and every single client of mine gets it, even if they don't want it.

Why plop down time and money if you aren't going to measure whats working and what isnt?

How would you like to know what pages people are finding to be the most interesting, and then featuring them on the homepage so you increase conversions?

Or if your traffic good local traffic or bad national traffic?

How about what keywords people are using the most to find you and focusing on them instead of your dumpers that nobody uses?


The number one reason a website kills all other marketing is the ability for you to quickly adapt and measure the results.

Don't waste time and effort anymore, find out whats good, whats bad, whats ugly, and make changes to streamline your effectiveness.

10. Developing the Ron Popeel Attitude - Set it & Forget it!

Huggggggggeeeeeeeeeee mistake for a couple reasons.

One, static content isn't going to bring people back. Once they have seen all that's on your site, why would they come back? And very rarely are you going to sell them the first time.

Two, search engines devalue sites that aren't updated frequently. A site that is always coming up with fresh content is seen as an active resource. Google likes this.

People like it, and if they see you as a resource they are going to tell their friends. This is good for business.

A blog is a great way to keep fresh content flowing, and also for building relationships. Top 10 lists like this one get passed around all the time, and it's not that difficult to come up with a couple for your site and release them every two weeks. It's a lot lower maintenance than you'd think.

10.5 Not hiring a pro

Mostly just a gag of post (hence the .5), but think about it. Faster results, better performance, will actually make you money. Find one that you trust to do a good job, I'm sure you'll be happy with the results


As always I look forward to the discussion. I hope you took at least a couple things away from this post that will help you if your a DIY :)

Talk to you soon
 

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I removed the Google Analytics from my site. I think it slows page load times and I can get stats from my server logs. Also, since I advertise using Adwords, I felt that letting Google know exactly how much (or how little) traffic my site got might skew my page ranking.

As far as the CMS goes, I have used Joomla in the past but now my site is just a bunch of pages I made with Frontpage, I couldn't find any Joomla templates that turned me on. I've also used "CMS like" Wordpress templates but didn't really like it.

I should probably go back to Joomla though, as it makes it really easy to update content.

Very good advice here, thanks!

:thumbsup:
 

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Web Dude
Joined
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153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@ Zinsco

Google Analytics shouldn't be slowing down your site, its just a tiny little bit of code and java. And I really doubt Google would link your traffic stats to your Adwords client, and it definitely wouldn't have any bearing on your Organic SEO. If your traffic is poor enough to be dropping you in the search engines, it's going to happen whether Google sees you have Adwords or not.

Joomla is where it's at, Wordpress is a very close second for Open Source CMS.

Glad you guys are diggin the advice!
 
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