The Dirty Dozen Website Mistakes

12by Molly Ritvo

A new year offers fresh opportunities to develop new relationships while strengthening existing ones. It is also the perfect time to tune up your website.

With 2013 behind us, we encourage staffers to take a close look at your website and examine every single page for content, style, tone and layout. Think about the big questions first and ask yourself: is this page really necessary? What is the main message from this page? Is there a shorter, more effective way of saying it? It’s a best practice to regularly maintain your website to keep it functioning optimally, much like a car.

To help kick-off your website tune-up, below are the most common mistakes we’ve seen on websites. Is your site suffering from any of these dirty dozen mistakes?

1. Too much white space

There is a beautiful webpage located somewhere between too much clutter and not enough content. An empty website leaves too much to the imagination. Your pages should have a good balance of pictures and words and enough room for your audience to soak in the information. On average, users spend about 22 seconds on a page. Make sure your users are getting the most of their visit.

2. Inconsistent type, size, and color

Too many fonts, colors, clip art images, etc., can make your page look busy, confusing, and unprofessional. Maintain your color scheme, sizes, fonts, and the general look-and-feel of your organization across all pages – and social media channels. This will ensure good branding.

3. Too much text

Users need to see a good balance of text, graphic and multimedia. Think about breaking up your text by using headlines, bullet points, short sentences and paragraphs, and visuals and graphics.

4. Dead-end links

It’s pretty embarrassing when your register here or contact us or learn more pages lead to nowhere. To be safe, double check all of your links (even to documents and forms) three times.

5. Incomplete calendar items

If you don’t tell people when and where to show up, they won’t be there. Make sure all calendar events include short, inviting descriptions and specify the event location, time, and give a contact name/ number.

6. Missing opportunities for members to get more information

You know how frustrating it is when you can’t find a “Contact Us” page. Make sure it is easy for your members to have the opportunity to share experiences, ask questions, provide feedback, and get more information if they need it.

7. A mobile-unfriendly site

For the millions of smart-phone users who often look at websites while waiting in line, riding public transportation, or when they’re taking a break from their kids, make sure they can enjoy your website.

8. No search tool

Your website visitors are goal driven. They are looking for information and if they can’t find it, they will navigate away.

9. Irrelevant content

Having interesting content that addresses the needs of your members is crucial! If you aren’t targeting the needs and wants of your members, you are losing them. Aren’t sure what they want to see? Send out a survey with Survey Monkey or ask a member to poll for you. Use Google Analytics to see who is visiting what on your website, so you can cater to them.

10. Using social media indiscriminately

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that some organizations jump onto every new online platform that comes along to look relevant. Instead, they spread themselves too thin. It is best if you focus on using one or two platforms effectively.

11. Outdated content

Focus on upcoming holidays and remove information about Hanukkah and other past events!

12. Bad navigation

Do all of your home subpages have a clear way to return to your home page? Does your home page provide access to all major parts of the site? Is navigation consistently presented from page to page?

Don’t forget that your website is your calling card! Use your website well and don’t forget to give it your organization’s personality. Keep it simple. Prioritize information so that your homepage is easy to read with a clear header, introduction, and easy to see links. Not every piece of information needs to be included right away (that’s why you have subpages). Use your website to tell your genuine story and your members will be your audience for many years to come.

Molly Ritvo is the Content Manager at Jvillage Network, a Burlington, VT based organization that offers membership engagement solutions for Jewish communities. You can follow Molly on Twitter, @MollifyMR.