Episode 33 - Hidden Website Gotchas
Avoiding Website Gotchas We talk about understanding the hidden issues that can bring a website to its knees.
You’ve all heard the term, gotcha. A gotcha is something that happens that is unexpected, catches you off guard, and can often have negative consequences. Gotchas are something you usually want to avoid because surprises throw you off your game, cause you to have to adjust and often cost time and money. And let’s face it, most business people don’t really like surprises. They like a level of predictability, want to know where landmines are so they don’t get blown up and have the ability to stick to a plan.
When it comes to websites, most people realize that if the website looks bad, is outdated, and difficult to navigate, it hurts rather than helps a business. But what they may not know, is that there are some gotchas in their websites that are often nasty surprises that cause them to spend lots of money in redesign, maintenance or what’s even worse, legal fees.
Let’s start with what may get your company sued.
Not being ADA Compliant. Everyone knows about the Americans with Disabilities Act because we see wheelchair ramps, handrails in bathrooms and braille available in elevators. What many don’t know is that websites also need to comply with ADA regulations so people who are visually impaired or otherwise handicapped can access them. This hasn’t been a big deal until recently, but now it’s a very big deal.
Although the government is not cracking down yet or fining businesses, class action lawyers particularly in New York and California are having a field day. Lawsuits are on the rise with over 2,000 cases in 2018 and 2019, up from only 800 in 2017. They settle quickly because companies don’t have the resources to fight them. And lawyers love to attack an industry group, no matter how big or small the businesses are. They find non-accessible websites, research the industry, then the form letters go out the door threatening everyone.
Being ADA compliant is not as easy as you might think because a web reader, used by someone visually impaired must be able to read a picture, know where a hyperlink is taking them, and be able to use the keyboard to tab through the site. In this digital age, the disability community is sending a clear message to companies that they will not be left behind. At the same time, many companies are unaware of this issue until they receive legal action.
The next “gotcha” is not being mobile optimized. Mobile devices, such as your smart phone dominate when it comes to surfing the Internet. Your website has to be ready for a mobile user by using responsive web design. This means that your site looks good on a wide screen monitor, and changes to fit the needs of the person on their iPhone. It shouldn’t matter which browser or device the user is using to access your website the screen needs to adjust automatically based on the screen size of the device.
There are several consequences of not being mobile friendly, as many older sites are, but here are the big ones. If your site is not mobile optimized, it will be harder to find because Google, the 800-pound gorilla will bypass your site in favor of others who are mobile friendly. If customers can’t view your site on their cell phone, they may perceive you are out of touch and not very good at what you do because your site is old school. And, if a viewer has trouble with your site on their smart phone, they’ll navigate away in favor of your competitor’s more current technology.
And next is the gotcha of not being found on the Internet. When it comes to getting found on the Internet, you need to comply with what Google needs so it can help people find you. Here are some “gotchas” that ruin your ability to get found. First, may be to use an inexperienced developer or free web builder that allows you to create a pretty site, but gives no attention to search engine optimization. Google built a series of tools for your webmaster, but if they aren’t used, you guarantee yourself Internet obscurity.
Simple mistakes that people make are duplicating content, trying to use too many keywords when they aren’t relevant to the content, having a website that takes too long to load, having too many ads or sponsored links and letting your content get stale by never updating it. Gotcha! The investment in your website is now wasted because nobody can find it.
If you never update your site or add anything new, then Gotcha, people won’t take you seriously. Let’s be clear, most of the industries Convey serves are always changing. Take the telecommunications channel. Only 5 years ago, the cloud wasn’t a thing and businesses had limited networking options. Sales agents had only a few vendors to keep up with and life was easier. Today, new vendors come on the scene constantly and businesses have more options than ever to reduce cost, be more efficient and have better technology. Your website needs to reflect what’s new and that involves adding content on a regular basis.
Using a free or super low-cost web program is a big gotcha when “free” turns into expensive. It’s really tempting to go to WordPress.com, download the free software and try and turn up a website. Free or super low-cost website technology options are out there, but the “gotcha” is that free is usually never fee because of hidden costs. Take WordPress as an example. You want it to be more than a basic website, you have to purchase plug-ins. You want to update it, then good luck with that. WordPress is complicated and unless you are a developer, then you’ll need help. And what about when the site breaks because of incompatible plug ins or software updates. Gotcha again. You need developers to fix the problem.
Not paying attention to security. You think because you’re a small company, that hackers won’t pay attention, right? Well, gotcha. You don’t have to be Equifax or Home Depot. In fact, most security breaches involve small businesses. Not to pick on WordPress, but those websites are usually hosted by providers like GoDaddy and use template that thousands of other businesses use. Once a hacker figures out how to gain access, he’ll run the tables with other sites just like yours potentially costing you and your customers significant money to fix the problem.
Nobody likes a “gotcha”, particularly when it comes to the website that defines who your company is, legitimizes your business and attracts people to your company. If your website is not ADA compliant, mobile optimized, found in search engines, current and updated, costs too much to maintain, or is vulnerable to hacking, you’ve potentially got big problems.
Convey is about to give you the help you need to avoid website “gotchas”. We’re getting ready to provide low cost, high quality websites to the telecommunications and insurance industries with technology built for agencies. Our technology is constantly using the most updated tools, is mobile optimized, is web accessible, helps you get found on Google, is constantly refreshed and managed by Convey and makes sure you are impressive when customers and prospects find you in their online buying journey.
We will help you get rid of the expensive and surprising gotchas so you can stay focused on your business, not your website.