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Common Web Development Mistakes Businesses Make

Launching a new website without proper forethought can be detrimental to establishing your brand online. There are 100’s of unprofitable and neglected websites out online today that had the potential to succeed. Here is a list 6 common web development mistakes that businesses often make:

1. Not Setting Clear Goals and Establishing Ownership of those Goals.

* It is important to place a leader in charge of making final decisions relating to design, content and project elements of the new website. Many web development projects are unnecessarily delayed and overcomplicated by involving too many decision makers.
* The project leader should workshop general goals from all departments, listen to the various suggestions and then develop strong objectives based on a consensus.
* The project leader should then be allowed the flexibility to manage the flow of the web development project.
* Arrange ‘checkpoint’ meetings with key staff at crucial phases such as testing.

2. Incomplete Web Development Specifications

* Never start a web development project without a clear specification sheet of what pages and website functions will be required. Adding in a calendar or login feature halfway through a project in not only inefficient but will most likely cost your company more.
* Look into how many variables will your products have such as size, colour, type, sku number, shipping, tax etc. Compile all your product information into one place to get a good idea of what information you have available.
* Address topics such as shopping features and merchant accounts early on and ask your web development company if the proposed system is search engine friendly.

3. Limited Hosting Plans without Scalability

* Find out if the hosting plan will be compatible with the proposed system outlined in the Web Development Specifications
* Many companies make the mistake of going for the cheapest hosting plan without checking its database compatibility and how easy it would be to move to a larger hosting package.
* Some hosting companies can increase your disk space and bandwidth with no hassle but others may require you to move to a new server which is potentially costly and time-consuming.
* Make sure the hosting servers are hosted in your main country of operation so that Search Engines have a good reason to associate your website with this country.

4. Absence of Customer Centric Features

* Usability issues are key to keeping users on your website.
* Search functions, sales support features such as live chat and clear navigation go a long way to getting more from your website.
* In fact add your contact details or some form of contact interaction on every page to speed up the steps between curiosity and contact.

5. No Maintenance Plan

* Launching a website should not the final step. Updating content takes time and skill but tweaking your website to be relevant is pivotal to creating a good online brand. Make the most of your online presence by giving users a reason to keep coming back to your website.
* Designate a resource (either inhouse or outsourced) for website updates and make use of this resource at least monthly

6. Lack of Online Marketing Direction

* A website with no real growth will not attract search engines or increase traffic.
* Whether you do this inhouse or outsource your online marketing efforts to a service provider you need to be sure to have a marketing plan for your website. Research and refine your goals once more.
* Make sure that there is some sort of tracking installed on your website to monitor your website traffic statistics. AWstats or Google Analytics are both free and there is no excuse not to start tracking now.

Ways that Website Analytics Can Save Your Online Business

Website analytics is probably the last thing an online business owner wants to worry about. With 15 things to do every day before 10 am and another 50 to do before you can call it a day, sitting down in front of a bunch of web traffic stats seems like a waste of time. While I agree with the sentiment, it’s completely wrong. In fact, website analytics should be the first and last thing you review every day and I’ll give you three reasons why:

1. Web Analytics Help You Detect Fraud and Incompetence

Have you hired an SEO expert? PPC marketer? Social media guru? If you have people on staff or retain contractors to help you with your site, website analytics are your best friend.

Forget about the reports these experts create because all stats and data can be manipulated or ommitted. What you need is raw, reliable data to calculate the ROI of the services you are paying for.

Specifically, programs like Google Analytics can help you quickly isolate specific traffic streams and provide a host of useful data to calculate ROI, including:

Conversion Rate of Specific Traffic Channels
Conversion Rate for Specific Targeted Keywords
Average Time on Site for Specific Traffic Streams
Bounce Rate for Specific Traffic Streams

Of course, the conversion rate data for specific traffic streams (or Internet marketing experts) will help you calculate the ROI. But the average time on site will also help provide a rough gauge of overall traffic strength. If a specific traffic channel can’t keep visitors on site for more than 2 minutes, the traffic is either weak or you have significant issues on your landing pages.

2. Web Analytics Help Assess Site Health

To put that another way, web analytics essentially help show you where you need to invest your money most to boost online profits. Specifically, website traffic analytics will help you assess:

A. Traffic Strength
B. Sales Funnel Effectiveness
C. Shopping Cart Function and Conversion Rate
D. Website Conversion Rate and Rates for Specific Services/Products

For instance, high bounce rates and low average time on site typically indicate weak traffic or exceptionally poor landing pages. You can confirm which by looking at the data for specific traffic streams to see if there are significant variations in performance. If there are, then the issue is likely a weak traffic stream but if all channels are doing poorly, it’s more likely to be landing page.

The point is, the data tell you what’s wrong with your site so you can best channel your investment dollars to the most critical areas.

3. Web Analytics Eliminates Needless Split Testing

In most cases, optimization of landing pages and product descriptions is completed via split testing. That is, decide what sales tool you want to test (like a headline or CTA) and then create a new one to split test against. If your new sales tool performs better, conversions will increase and your hard work rewarded. However, this is rarely how it works.

You see, the thing people always forget about split testing is it’s sheer expense. To statistically verify even a lead gen site with a non-monetized CTA, you need at least 1,000 visitors or more to each version.

So if you think a landing page or product description might have problems with the headline, value proposition, and credibility tools, that’s at least 3 tests you need to run at 2,000 visitors per test. At even $1 a click, you can see how that would get very expensive, very quickly.

And the worst part: You have no idea if the headline, value prop, or credibility tools are even suppressing conversions. You are just split testing one sales tool versus a new one and hoping for the best, seriously.

But with web analytics, you can pinpoint the issues and eliminate the guesswork saving loads in unnecessary testing costs and content creation.

In conclusion, web analytics really are vital to your online success because they provide you with an accurate assessment of site health and your investments in traffic generating services. If you don’t know the true health of your site, then how can you possibly know what it needs to grow and be more profitable?

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