When did you last look at your website? The chances are it is out of date and reflecting a shoddy image of your company. Read on to find out whether yours needs a Spring Clean Every company has a web site but having one doesn't mean it is working for your business. Does it really pay its way or has it been forgotten about and left by the wayside to gather e-dust? If your website has become a virtual under-achiever then the signs are usually easy to spot 1. It isn't clear what your business does Does your site clearly explain what you do? Can a potential customer find information about your products and services easily? If not, then you may be losing business to your competitors. The structure of the information on your website, often called the navigation, determines how easily and quickly users can get the information they need. It's amazing how soon people will give up if they can't find what they want in the first couple of minutes. 2. There are no contact details Your website is your most important business card and, like any business card, it should include your contact details; they should be distinctive and easy to find. If this is not the case you need to correct it fast. 3. It never changes Has your company changed in the last 12 months? If the answer is yes then your website should have changed with it. Content Management (the ability to update your website easily) has become vastly cheaper in the last year, leaving no excuse for out-of-date information. It also means that there is no need to go back to your web company every time you want a minor alteration made 4. Nobody uses your site. If your site hasn't referred a customer or directed an enquiry in the last 24 hours then it's not doing its job. 5. Your website looks unprofessional Professional websites are built by specialised teams. If your website has been built by amateurs customers will spot it a mile off. Your website is your shop window to the world, and if has not been built professionally you could be losing business. Think of it is like this, it's likely that more people will see your website than your office reception area – and would you let someone who 'knows a bit about woodwork' design and build that in their spare time? 6. Accessibility Due to recent government legislation 'accessibility' has become bit of a buzz word in the Internet community, but its definitely one to consider. If your site is not accessible to disabled visitors, such as blind users who need special software to read the pages, then you could be missing opportunities as well as breaking the law 7. Design overkill Moving Flash images, swanky photos and fancy navigation can make a web page come alive and make your company look up-to-date but overuse is a disaster making your site too slow to do its job. Most website users, given the choice, will skip pictures, animated intros and would prefer not struggle with moving toolbars. And if they can't skip get around them, they will seldom wait around. You may think your website is start-of-the-art but ask yourself honestly if there is anything which slows or stops potential customers from getting to the information they really want. If there is, then lose it.
There are many other website sins, including the pointless 'website under construction' pages, irritating 'pop-up' windows, sites that take forever to open and so on. If your website is guilty of any of the above it's time to have a re-think. A website is a powerful marketing and communications tool and with some thought it can be used effectively to help your business succeed.
Matthew Harvey is managing director of web consultancy simple thinking www.simplethinking.co.uk. If you are now worried about your web site then drop him a line.