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10 Mistakes Companies Make When Launching a New Website

  1. Your site has no redirects- In today's day and age, most established companies already have a website. What this means is that most of today's new website launches are actually re-launches or redesigns of the old site. In fact, here at Foremost Media, over 90% of the sites we build are actually rebuilds from the ground up of existing websites. Re-launching a new website has some unique challenges, especially if the site is well established. One of the most overlooked and critical things inexperienced webmasters do when re-launching or re-designing a site is skip the site redirects. Site redirects, or more specifically page redirects, are a way to send both search engines and site visitors to a different or new webpage from the one they originally requested. So why is a site redirect important to a site re-launch? If your site is well established and you change page names or page structure, you will need to tell the search engines where that new page was moved to. This is typically accomplished with a 301 redirect. This redirect automatically transfers the visitor or search engine from the old page to the new page. If a redirect is not done properly, when people click on link from the old site to your new site, or a link from the search engine, chances are they will get a Page Not Found error. Search engines do not like Page Not Found errors and will quickly remove or lower your rankings if these appear across the site. If you have launched a new website recently or plan to redo your website in the near future, it is very important to look at your most frequently visited pages and establish 301 redirects from each of these pages to the corresponding pages on your new site.

  2. Your site is too complicated- If you are like most business owners or managers, you want to get the most bang for your buck when someone visits your website. All too often, we see that translated into information overload on the home page of a website and way too many links to "Important information." On a home page it is important to limit the number of decisions your customer has to make. Many studies show that website visitors decide within the first few second of visiting your page if they are going to stay and go further or leave your site. You should define in a clear and concise way how you are going to efficiently transform a simple website visitor into a new customer. At Foremost Media we like our websites to tell the user in 3 seconds or less what we do and how we do it. This can be accomplished through a combination of clear headlines and images that are easy to read.

  3. Your website pages have no clear call to action- A popular, and perhaps overused, phrase in the real estate world is "ABC -always be closing". The premise behind that phrase is that a good sales person is constantly working to overcome objections, move the agenda (or sale) forward, and close the deal quickly. A good website should do just that.

    Every page on your website should be built with a purpose and have an obvious call to action or next step. Do you want them to watch a video on your product? Put that video front and center on the page. You might even consider having that video auto play when the page loads. At the end of that video prominently insert another call to action that moves them to the next step of the sales cycle, for example a request for quote or a link to your testimonials page. When designing your new site, try to put yourself in the position of that visitor that is not as familiar with every aspect of your business like you are. Your site should be designed in such a way that visitors know within the first few seconds of visiting exactly what you want them to do next, and also directs them through the entire sales process to accomplish your end goal.

  4. Your new website is slow- Your site visitors do not like a slow website and neither do the search engines. I recently read an article from Compuware that claimed that every 2 seconds of load time on a website equaled an 8% bounce or abandonment rate. If your site takes forever to load, you need to fix that now. An improvement in load time from 6 seconds to 3 seconds could equal a huge jump in your conversion rate. It is also a well-documented fact that an important ranking factor to search engine rankings is site speed.

  5. Your new site is not mobile friendly- In the past few years more and more users have started accessing the internet through mobile devices. According to Marketing Land, nearly 40% of internet usage takes place on mobile devices. With such a high percent of users on mobile devices, it is extremely important to have a mobile friendly site. Our experience across hundreds of sites proves that mobile website usability also plays a role in rankings. Websites that use responsive design are the best option for success with both site visitors and search engines.

  6. Your new site is not cross-browser compatible - Cross-browser compatibility means your site is developed to display properly across commonly used web browsers. While most browsers are similar in function, they often have small differences in how they display websites. For example, Apple computers default web browser is Safari. Safari uses a different html rendering engine then Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer browser. It is also typical for users to have different versions of these browsers installed on their computers, and each may render slightly, or vastly, different results for the visitor. Making a site cross-browser compatible is pretty simple for basic websites. However, complex sites with a lot of JavaScript and HTML formatting may require extra coding in order to be compatible with multiple these browsers. If your site is not cross-browser compatible, many of your pages may look fine in Firefox, but may not show up correctly in Internet Explorer or Apple Safari. It is important that your site be tested and work properly in all browsers.

  7. Your site is not secure - Recent updates in the world of Google and site security could have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. Most informational and non-ecommerce sites are typically built without a secure certificate, i.e. HTTP sites. HTTP sites do not contain or use encryption or other additional security to protect the information that is passed between the browser and the site. Google has announced they are now giving more authority to sites with an HTTPS.

    What does this mean? An HTTPS certificate basically adds more security to your site by encrypting the data passed between the web server and the site. In the past, most e-commerce sites went secure for checkouts etc., but now Google is recommending HTTPS security be applied to all websites in order to create a more protected online presence for users. Recent studies are showing an increase in traffic as well as a reduced bounce rate for those sites adding security to their website. We are highly recommending that all of our clients add this certificate to their websites to help further increase website traffic and security.

  8. Your site does not have analytics – If you are spending time and money on your online marketing efforts, how will you know it is working without Analytics? Analytics provides you insight into how your customers are finding and using your website, which marketing initiatives are most effective, where people leave the site and much more. There are many great analytics tools available on the market today. The most popular and arguably most powerful is Google Analytics, which is free to sites with visitor traffic below 10 million hits per month.

Update for 2024 - 2 Bonus Mistakes to Avoid:

9.   Overlooking the Balance Between Design Simplicity and Mobile Usability- In the realm of web design since 2014, there's been a pivotal shift towards simpler, cleaner designs, but this has only amplified the significance of user experience (UX). This change reflects the evolving patterns of internet usage, notably the dominance of mobile browsing. Designing with a mobile-first perspective has become indispensable, requiring an emphasis on intuitive navigation and ease of use on smaller screens. The aesthetic simplicity now goes hand in hand with sophisticated UX design, ensuring seamless interaction across all devices. Modern web design is more than just visual appeal; it's about creating an accessible, engaging, and user-friendly experience. This approach prioritizes user-centric design principles, where each element serves a purpose, blending usability with aesthetic simplicity. As users increasingly navigate the web on mobile devices, the need for websites that are not only visually pleasing but also intuitively navigable has never been more critical.

10.  Prioritizing Design Over Content - In 2024, a critical mistake in website redesign is the underestimation of content's significance. Content remains king, especially when it comes to your SEO and search engine rankings and engaging your audience. An effective redesign strategy should start with content creation and moderation, focusing on developing captivating, audience-oriented content. The design should serve to complement and enhance this content, not overshadow it. Remember, visitors are primarily drawn to your website for the information it offers; the design should facilitate and highlight this, ensuring your content takes center stage.