Why I Had To Tell My Client His Website Was Sh*t.

I’m often asked to review a client’s website and write a report listing recommended improvements. I once described one as a websh*te by mistake. Oops.

By the way, I didn’t actually say that. As a copywriter, I’m supposed to be ‘good with words’ and I can turn a negative into a positive. What I probably said was: “Your website doesn’t do you justice.” (It means the same thing though!)

Without naming names, here are 20 things I noticed. Please don’t let any of these horrors apply to your own site:

1. The home page doesn’t answer ‘what’s in it for me’, so site visitors are likely to look elsewhere

2. Lots of pretty Flash animations even though search engines and mobile devices can’t ‘read’ them

3. The copy is all about THE SUPPLIER and not enough about THE READER e.g. ‘We work closely with our loyal customers’ instead of ‘If you want to work closely with friendly local IT experts, you’ll find our door is always open. We’re here 24/7 at the end of the phone or email ready to help you’

4. The most persuasive fact buried at the bottom of the page instead of putting it first or highlighting it in a visual way

5. Indirect language e.g. ‘in order to allow the client to concentrate on their core business’ instead of ‘in order to allow you to concentrate on your core business’ (direct language is more persuasive and appealing)

6. No ‘About us’ page (although people do business with people and like to know who they’re dealing with)

7. No picture of you (when YOU are what you’re selling)

8. Text that reads ‘For 17 years’ instead of ‘Since 1992′ so the copy soon goes out of date

9. No ‘added value’ e.g. glossary page, useful articles, hints & tips

10. A big deal made of ‘our values’ and ‘our mission statement’ when they should be internal documents not customer-facing ones

11. Irritating typos e.g. ‘If your selling’

12. No case studies or testimonials, even though they sell you better than anything you can say yourself

13. Dull content, so there’s no stickability and no reason for inbound links or repeat visits

14. Empty FAQs, despite them being among the most popular pages ever visited

15. Broken links, because people just love that ’404 not found’ page (not!)

16. A financial site designed in red and pink throughout (red = danger/debt), whereas blue is a better colour (for stability)

17. Inconsistent fonts and sizes that give an amateur effect

18. Free hotmail, gmail or btinternet email address, to make it look really unprofessional

19. Space in the phone number in the wrong place (it should be 020 7xxx xxxx)

20. Site breaks in any browser that’s not Internet Explorer

Please let me know if you’d like a site review. I promise to be kind! As a special Valentine’s Day offer, I will put all requests received by 28 February 2013 into a ‘lucky dip’ and pick one site to review absolutely FREE! Email your URL / web address to me at jackie@jackiebarrie.com.

Not only that, but my new book ‘The Little Fish Guide to Writing Your Own Website’ is coming soon. Email me now on jackie@comms-plus.co.uk and I’ll send you the link when it’s ready.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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