Tag Archives: website mistakes

Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Website?

Websites are fragile things. They rely on co-operation between humans and computers and there are plenty of places where this can go awry. Some of the points below may seem obvious and you may even be certain that they would never apply to your website. But have you checked them recently or is the first time you find out that something important has broken when a customer calls you up to tell you?

Website simply doesn’t work

The page might be blank, it might say “forbidden” or you may get a heap of code that would send a geek into ecstasy but will leave normal human beings clicking their back button as fast as they can.

This happens more often than you think – about two in every hundred sites when I’m doing research seem to be afflicted. Sometimes it’s the content management system you’re using and an upgrade went wrong. Sometimes you haven’t named something properly. And occasionally it’s because you got round to buying the website hosting but didn’t get any further, although usually there’s some kind of place holder page when this happens.

Oh and sometimes this can happen when your website host thinks you haven’t paid your invoice, regardless of whether you have paid or not.

It should go without saying that any non-working website should be fixed as soon as possible. And that you need a system in place to check your site regularly, making sure that you’re not looking at a stuck “cached” version that’s out to fool you.

Site under construction

A few years ago this would have been accompanied by a road sign image and a picture of a worker digging something. Nowadays it can take the form of a page that says that this site is reserved for one of our customers. This happens a lot with Yellow Pages where there’s often a package deal that includes a website but nothing’s happened to it yet.

Sometimes it can also take the form of a page that says you’re reconstructing your entire website and that your visitor should (a) care and (b) come back soon. Don’t be tempted to do this – keep your current site up and running until the new one is ready.

Whatever the reason, you need at least a simple page of information. A few paragraphs about your company, the services that you offer and a way to contact you. This shouldn’t take long to do – even if you’re a complete novice it shouldn’t be more than an hour’s job – but you need to do it. Google crawl sites almost as soon as they’re registered and if you’re not careful their search results will show your “coming soon” page for weeks or months to come.

Broken contact forms

One of the beauties of the web is that people can reach you in a few clicks of a mouse and by typing a few words on their computer. Which makes it very easy for a first “toe in the water” contact.

But what if your contact form is broken?

When was the last time you checked it?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because your contact form worked when you installed it then it will still work. But in real life it’s not as easy as that. Website hosts helpfully upgrade versions of all sorts of helper programs that run on your webserver. They do this all the time to fix bugs and patch security loopholes. Much the same as Windows gets the latest updates for your local PC.

The trouble is, these upgrades can unwittingly break things and contact forms are one of the casualties. Unless you get so many enquiries that you’d know almost instantly when something was wrong, check your contact form and any other programmed part of your website on a regular basis. Go through the whole procedure and send yourself a message to check it gets through as intended.