What if your customers could contact you directly through your website, getting instant answers to their questions? Or if they could ask a question about a product ub your online shop right when they are poised to buy? With a live chat facility on your website, all this is possible – and more, But is it right for your business?.
Our world has changed overnight, thanks to the Coronavirus emergency. This post seeks to reassure our clients and set out what we intend to do to help them through the crisis.
How much should a website cost? Pricing your website project depends on so many factors that you need a starting point. And setting a budget is the best way to find it.
An effective website can be an asset to any business, but many small business websites end up hard to use disasters that never fulfill their potential.
Many business owners see their website as a cost and a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Blogging on your business website can bring all kinds of benefits – especially to your bottom line – but getting going is easier said than done.
This post is for you if you’ve wondered whether you should blog, have been told you should, or if you’ve always intended to, but never got going.
Videos can be a powerful tool in business websites, but all too often it’s used badly and without thought. Here are some things to consider before you use video on your website.
These days many people’s first impression of your business is your website – and the number one question in their minds is: Can I trust you?
If you spend any time looking around the web, the chances are you will have come across the latest craze that’s pretty much guaranteed to annoy – or at the very least confuse website visitors: Pop up light boxes, also known as interstitials.
FAQ pages are quite possibly one of the laziest crimes in website usability. If you have one on your site, you need to get rid of it. Here’s how.
Frequently Asked Questions. This is traditionally the place that website owners dump the content they don’t know what to do with – or really can’t be bothered giving it enough thought.
They are about the convenience of the website owner but never, never are they about making things easier for the website visitor, which should always be your focus.
In short the FAQ page is a sticking plaster solution for poor information architecture. In the early days of the web they were useful, but things have moved on and the FAQ page has been left behind.
Take the name: How does a random visitor to your website know whether these questions are asked frequently or not? It’s as if we are expecting visitors to sort out our content for us.
What does FAQ even mean?
Many website visitors don’t even understand what FAQ means, therefore they ignore it. User testing indicates those who do know what it means only ever use it if all else fails.
It’s neither useful nor helpful, unless you’re the person putting the website together. But then you might as well just take all the information from your FAQ page and put it in a new page called Miscellaneous. Or Information. Or even Page.
Website visitors – or to use their proper name: customers – deserve better treatment than this. We should be making it easier for them, not harder.
But FAQ pages are a nightmare, usually presented in a question and answer format that makes them difficult to read or take in.
That’s because everything you find on an FAQs page belongs somewhere else, if only someone would spend the time thinking about where it should be.
If all else fails then make it up
In one large organisation where I worked the various website authors were obsessed with FAQs. Every time a new section was launched, there would be an accompanying FAQ page. Sometimes it would run into hundreds of words, sometimes it would only be a couple of forlorn questions.
My job was (to try) to filter out the worst content before it made it onto the website, so I would always begin by asking if anybody had ever asked any of these ‘Frequently’ Asked Questions.
Nearly always the answer was: ‘No but we had to put something in the FAQ page…. And we must have an FAQ page…’
So these questions were not frequently asked or even asked at all.
And this is often the case as FAQ pages are filled up with imaginary, sometimes off the wall, questions that nobody ever asked. Things like ‘Who built this brilliant website?’
How to get rid of your FAQ page
The secret behind making your website work for your customers – and turning visitors into customers – is in understanding that all web content should be about answering the questions of your website visitors.
Visitors arrive at a website with a task in mind and questions they need answering. These are the real Frequently Asked Questions.
But the answers should not be tucked away and hard to find, they should be obvious and easy to spot: Don’t make your website visitors work for the answers they need.
If your website has an FAQ page start by reviewing it.
Are the questions and answers really things your customers want to know or are the questions just made up? Are some of them so important that they need to be given greater prominence? Should they even be on the website at all?
If the questions/answers are useful to visitors they should be – usually with the other information on the same topic.
Some FAQs may be pointing at a more serious issue – something on your site that is so hard to use that people need instructions. In this case it would be better to look at fixing the original problem than challenging users to work it out with the aid of instructions. Few have the patience to do this.
For example, if one of your FAQs is ‘How do we contact you’ then obviously you need to make it easier for people to find your contact page, or make it better so people don’t have to ask.
And here’s the point: Websites are becoming more customer focussed these days. If your site serves its visitors properly you don’t need an FAQ page.
If you have one you need to question whether your site is serving your customers the best way it can, or whether you are just using your FAQ page as a crutch to make up for poor design.
Gerry McGovern: The problems with FAQs.
More Website Sins
Things to avoid saying and doing on your business website.
- Never say ‘Click Here’
- Don’t use ‘Under Construction’ pages
- Why you don’t need an FAQ page
- Why pop-up light boxes are a bad idea
Outdated software is the number one reason WordPress sites get hacked, but if you don’t know much about WordPress, how can you tell if you’re up to date?
There’s no need to track down your developer and ask, or go and look through code. All you have to do is visit the Sucuri website, type in your web address and you can find out straight away.
The tool doesn’t just test WordPress websites, it checks whatever you have, as other systems like Joomla! can also be vulnerable, especially if out of date.
We have written several times before about how out of date WordPress software and plug ins can make your site vulnerable to all kinds of hacking nastiness, including pharma hacks, malware or complete loss of your website.
Google blacklists (on average) 10,000 websites per day, many of which will be hacked WordPress sites. If your software is out of date and your site hasn’t been attacked, you’re not safe, you’re lucky.
90 per cent of hacks are opportunistic and automated. Hackers run automatic programmes that try known weaknesses on thousands of sites at a time and if they get in, there goes your website.
If you’re not up to date, it’s not a question of whether, but when.
Test your WordPress site now
Follow this link to the Sucuri website and test your own site by putting the domain name into the box. The link opens in a new tab and you can return to this page afterwards.
If you get the all clear, then great.
If your site is vulnerable
If your site is marked as vulnerable through out of date WordPress, then do yourself a favour and come and talk to us. We can put it right for the price of an hour or two’s work.
We can also check over your site’s security and other common ways in, such as insecure usernames and passwords, the second most common reason for hacks.
WordPress is not the problem
WordPress is popular – it’s now 20 per cent of websites – and that’s what makes it a target for hackers who know some people will always leave their websites to go out of date, often because they don’t know any better.
As it happens the WordPress development team works hard to ensure the software is as secure as it can be, which is one reason why it is updated relatively often.
It could be argued they are getting better and better at it.
Last week the latest version of WordPress – 3.7 – came out and includes the ability to do security updates automatically, which is a big step forward. But there are still lots of sites that are running old and vulnerable versions, just sitting there waiting to be hacked.
Don’t let that happen to your website. Check your site now!