Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online.
Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode…
First of all welcome back from our mini-break! Life got a little crazy and we ran out of batched episodes so the most logical thing to do was to hit pause for a few weeks while we got on top of things. But we’re back! And we’ve got a whole new batch of episodes planned and ready to roll.
Today’s episode is all about websites… and the terrible, awful things people do to them.
We’re approaching this topic from a “business website” perspective – as in, websites that are set up to generate leads or sales. So if you’ve got a hobby website or blog, it’ll be less relevant for you, but you might still glean a few useful tips.
Anyway, this one should be useful for just about anyone with a website who wants to improve their traffic or conversions… or just make sure they’re following best practices.
Today, we’ll look at UI/UX, copywriting, and SEO.
5 UI/UX crimes
There are only two reasons you would want a pre-loader:
- You have a slow website
- You want to look fancy.
Neither are good reasons, and you’ll lose visitors as a result of both. Don’t use a pre-loader!
2. Too many animations
Too many animations can overwhelm website visitors. They won’t know where to look or what to focus on. It can also slow down your website, especially on older computers or mobile devices, which can cause you to lose visitors. Keep your animations subtle and don’t overdo it.
3. Hamburger menu on desktop
Unless you have crazy complex navigation (which you shouldn’t), I can’t see why you’d need a tiny hamburger nav icon in place of a text menu on the desktop view. It’s better to have your main pages as text, and then stick all the other bits and pieces in a popup/slide-out mobile navigation.
4. Unpredictable layout and navigation
Don’t get creative with your website layout and navigation! People generally expect the logo on the left, the menu on the right. Trying to be hip and creative will just make your visitors lost and confused and they’ll click away.
5. Large sticky header and footer
If you have a sticky header or any other sticky element, make sure it doesn’t take up too much space on mobile. And if you decide to have content stick to the top and bottom of the screen… well, just don’t (I’m looking at you, Big W).
5 SEO crimes
1. Keyword stuffing
I still see people doing this. Don’t do it! Keyword stuffing is risky and creates a bad user experience. Use your keywords naturally and conversationally. I think it’s also worth keeping keyword density in mind (up to 1 mention per 100 words) but not at the expense of UX, and this includes using different variations and synonyms.
2. Sitemap.xml indexing stuff you don’t want indexed
This is super common. People install their SEO plugin or sitemap plugin and don’t customise it. And it ends up indexing some random stuff that doesn’t serve any purpose to users, like… tag categories or template pages. You need to make sure your sitemap tells search engines what you do and don’t want to be indexed.
3. Page titles and descriptions are ignored
We STILL see blank meta titles and descriptions, or people using the same copy-paste ones across all pages. Think about what you want to show up in Google’s search results (or on Facebook if someone shared a link back to your website), how you’d (briefly) describe the page, and what would make people click. Naturally include relevant keywords, if you can. Don’t waste your meta titles by writing your brand name over and over again in every title. You’ve only got 50-60 characters, so make them count.
4. Bad header tag usage
You should have one H1 per page as the main heading. Ideally, include your best keyword for the page in it. Then use H2s for your subheadings, and if you have headings nested under those, use H3s. Header tags are a good place for keywords but they’re also important for UX and usability – ensuring people can scan the page quickly.
5. Not enough copy
If you want a page to rank, you’ll probably need to write more than a hundred words of copy. Don’t be afraid of longer copy! Especially if you have a competitive, complex, or expensive product or service to sell. Serious buyers will want to soak up as much information as possible and will appreciate any insights you can give them, along with actual info about what’s included, the process, and what it costs. Structure your page well with:
- White space
- Upside-down pyramid shape structure with important info at the top, supporting details at the bottom
Then people will be able to scan it easily OR read the whole thing.
4 Copywriting crimes
1. Welcoming people to your site
If you use your first 100 words or above the fold to welcome people to your site, it’s a waste of space. It’s meaningless. Your website doesn’t need a welcome mat. It needs to quickly show a busy reader who you are, what you do, and how to get to the next bit of info they’re looking for.
2. Making it all about you
Your website should talk about you, but only in the right places and dosages. Put the focus on the audience first – who they are, what their problems are, and what they get when they buy from you. Once they see that you *get* them, they’ll be interested and ready to read about you.
3. Hiding behind a brand
The copy should mention the people behind the brand. It should talk about you or your team. Too many websites skim over this detail and it makes me feel suspicious about the brand… is it even real? Is it a scam? Why are these people too embarrassed to put their names and faces on the site?
4. Walls of text
I love writing lots of copy, but you have to be careful to avoid creating big chunks of text. Break it up. It’s totally fine to have short one-sentence paragraphs in places – these days, if in doubt, add a line break. Especially because so many users are on mobile phones – it doesn’t take much for a paragraph to fill their entire screen! Use italics and bolding along with headings, icons, and images to help break up the text, make it scannable, and stop the reader from getting tired.
Let’s wrap things up
We could talk about this alllll day but I suppose we’d better stop here. Maybe we’ll do a part 2 sometime?
We’ve covered some of the most common issues we see come up across website UX, SEO, and copywriting.
My advice would be to step back and go through this list. Do an audit of your site and see what issues come up, then fix them. You’re probably not making all these mistakes, but there’s a good chance you could improve in at least a few areas. (I know I could!)
Okay, that’s it!
We’ll catch you in the next episode, which is all about how to make your website super fast.
Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!