In the last few months a number of web based service providers have been making their predictions for 2016 so I’ve decided to join in and offer a few of my own.
There appears to be a trend for people to develop and create their own websites using applications and software programs like WIX, WordPress or the latest Google offering Google Sites. In principle this looks like a cost effective and considered way to go, but there are some quite severe drawbacks.
Firstly you are using a template. This means thousands of other users worldwide will be using this exact same template. It hardly augers for your site presenting as unique and different. It is equivalent of buying your logo from a company that offers stock images of various logos and fonts like Vista Print.
Secondly you must maintain it. This means you must ensure your images are up to date, your key words are current and that you do not commit the various ‘sins’ against good web practice that detract from both your ‘look and feel’ as well as your overall Google ranking. These include the following:
The Endless Scroll
Fostered by Facebook’s long scrolling this has become a common trend in web design. But as I spoke of last edition this can become very distracting, unwieldly and unattractive.
Your customers will not scroll for very long. In fact Google Analytics tell us that most visitors will spend minimal time on your website, finding what they want and visiting maybe 2 or 3 pages. Content needs to be clearly demarcated and scrolling copy actually makes this difficult. Overdone animated scrolling effects – these are all no nos.
Overlap on Images, Elements
Often the do it yourselfer will place text on an image, which is placed on an image then placed on a conflicting background of ill-matched colours. No more than 3 elements, all well placed in a design confirmation per page are what is required. This takes skill, and an eye for design.
On website devices it is common to use an icon that expands to display the whole website menu. On a mobile device this makes sense as there is limited space on smaller screens.
On a full size website this is really unnecessary and an extra complication in developing the website that is simply not helpful. This practice is becoming more common and it means many visitors to such websites miss a lot of information and material – because it’s an extra click that isn’t obvious.
Home Page Intros
Quite often the ‘Home Page’ is a repeat of material already prominent in ‘About Us’, ‘Products’, History’ etc. It can be superfluous. Quite simply someone searching will be directed to the page that answers their enquiry. More material means slower loading time. Adding an intro page to disguise a slower loading time simply frustrates the enquirer.
But there is a deeper more insidious issue. Many retail stores simply cannot afford to maintain a viable web presence. Put simply the costs are preclusive in line with the benefits received. Google Adwords, social media maintenance, the ubiquitous SEO, regular Google updates – these items can run into the thousands every month based on the scale of a business. For instance Google now recommends a spend of a minimum $30 per day, in most instances on Adwords – $900 to $1,000 per month plus maintenance by an Adwords professional of about $150.
The conundrum is what is the alternative for a highly visual industry like the Nursery and Garden as it is also very important to maintain currency on presentation of new varieties and seasonal offerings to its relevant demographics.
My prediction is a move to sites like Shopify, Storeberry and Etsy. Cost wise these ‘cybershopping malls’ offer real value and enable retailers to present, update and sell online. It’s worth taking the punt and signing up. It opens up a whole new marketplace, a new income stream to smaller retailers.
To join and set up is relatively inexpensive and each have different fee structures ongoing. Storeberry has a flat monthly fee, whilst Shopify and Etsy collect commissions on sales. It appears Australia Post is also looking at joining this club and providing a one stop service.
Delivery needs to be resolved and also combining the site with a Facebook page and local advertising package for Facebook.
Simplifying the pathway is my prediction and I expect to see more smaller stores getting online in more innovative ways in 2016. It provides a nice segway into ensuring a really professional presentation yet it is entirely cost effective. And remember the web is a visual medium – always select the very best images. A great image can present in a second what a 100 words of text may not communicate. See you online.