1. Lack of Accessibility
Accessibility refers to the ease with which a wide spectrum of users can access your site. On one level it can relate to the specialist web browsers that are used by people with a disability – a significant market in their own right. It also refers to the vast array of equipment, operating systems and browsers that are used to surf the web. Some examples to consider include: Visually impaired people surf too: Does the font size on your site increase if a visitor changes the text size from “medium” to “largest” in their browser? Does the page layout of your site fall apart when a visitor changes the text size? Small devices: What does your site look like when accessed from a PDA or mobile phone? How long does your page take to load at GPRS speeds? Other Operating Systems: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer doesn’t run on the Mac or Linux. How does your website design look on Opera, Safari or FireFox? Old Browsers: Believe it or not, there are still plenty of users running browsers that are 4 or 5 years old. A good website designer will take advantage of the formatting and presentation capabilities of the newer browsers, whilst “gracefully degrading” when viewed with an older version. Screen Sizes: There has been an explosion in the variety of screen sizes. Your site needs to be able to display appropriately on different sized screens, and it can’t be assumed that the user will have their entire screen allocated to their browser.
2. Infrequently Asked Questions
Have you looked through an FAQ page and been irritated by the irrelevance of the questions? Have you wondered if the questions had ever been asked, let alone frequently? If so then you’re not alone. Many sites no longer have FAQ pages and have instead updated their content to provide that information. However the point here is not so much about how fashionable the FAQ is or isn’t - the point is that all of the content on your site needs to be relevant to the people who are likely to visit the site. Relevant content will give them a good impression and will increase the likelihood that they will take the next step towards becoming a customer.
3. Can’t find contact information
We’re constantly amazed by sites that make it difficult to find physical contact information. For small and medium businesses this is critical as your contact information provides a key link to reality, giving customers confidence that they are dealing with a real business rather than a scammer. Contact information should include conventional contact methods such as phone and your business address.
4. Click Here To Enter Site
Don’t waste your home page with a “Click here to enter site” link or a gratuitous splash screen. Your website visitor is already here, so reward them immediately with useful, relevant content.
Audio should be used sparingly on any website and it should never be played automatically, especially if you are trying to reach users in a corporate setting. The best sites that use audio require the user to click a “play” icon. For sites that need a voiceover, you will dramatically enhance your organisation’s image by having the track professionally recorded.
6. Too Much Flash
Flash is great when used sparingly and tastefully. Flash can add excitement and movement to your site, adding capabilities that are difficult or impossible using only HTML. Unfortunately it has two key detractors: not everyone has flash and not everyone has the bandwidth to support flash. If you have decided that it is appropriate to use a sizeable flash component on your site then make sure that the user receives visual feedback while it loads.
7. Too many meaningless graphics
The graphics on your site should enhance the user experience. This needs to be kept in balance – enough to ensure that the site is attractive and functional, but not enough to create clutter and slow down the user experience. Site graphics need to be optimised to ensure that the site is displayed at a respectable speed.
8. Search Engine Unfriendly
Whilst having a search engine friendly site won’t guarantee you high rankings on your favourite search engine (that’s a discipline called Search Engine Optimisation), there’s no excuse for not having done the basics. These include having a site map, concise and relevant content, use of standard mark-up tags that are recognised by search engines as well as meta tags such as keywords and a description.
9. Welcome to Our Website
Commence your content with something a little more compelling that “Welcome to our website”. Such an opening appears amateurish and communicates to a visitor that the site is in no hurry to provide them with useful information.
10. Poor Navigation
Navigating through your site should be intuitive. This means that the site navigation should be organised and presented in a manner consistent with accepted web navigation conventions. Stick to standard techniques and standard locations for navigation elements such as links and menus. Links should look like links. It should be easy for a visitor to find the “home” and “contact us” links. As well as having navigation elements that are easily recognised, it is important to think through the logical organisation of your site. One useful metric to keep in mind is the average number of clicks required to find a piece of information or to access a page. Another key aspect is how easy/obvious is it for a visitor to find out which link to click on. For example, to find “double sided tape” on your website, should they look under “Art & Craft” or “Office Supplies”?
11. Poor Colour Schemes
A poor colour scheme will distract visitors from your message. At worst, the message will become unreadable. It is also important to keep vision impaired users in mind, so if your site features coloured text on a coloured background then it would be wise to offer a high contrast option. This can easily be done using style sheets.
12. Expecting that people will read your Web Pages
Very few people read a web page in its entirety. Rather, people scan web pages looking for relevant information, zooming in on the elements that catch their interest. It is therefore important that information be well ordered and easy to locate on the page.
13. Pop-up Windows
Unless you have a very good reason, avoid pop-up windows. They are irritating and many browsers block them.
14. Dead Links
All of the links on your site should work. Having users visit your site and encounter broken links will look unprofessional, cause frustration and undermine the confidence of visitors in your site and hence your organisation. All links on your site should be properly tested. Links to external sites that are not under your control should be tested on a regular basis, especially if they link deep into the content of that site.
15. Requiring That Surfers Install Software
Generally, users will not want to install software to view content on your site. By default, most browsers block websites from installing software. Exceptions to this rule are some extensions/applications that have gained widespread acceptance such as Acrobat and Flash.
16. Pages that are slow to load
Web surfers are notoriously impatient and will punish slow sites by leaving them. A good site will load in no more than a few seconds. Reasons for slow loading pages often include such factors as overloading a site with pointless graphics, sub-optimal graphic formats and hosting factors such as using an overseas hosting company or a “backyard” hosting company. If there is a legitimate, unavoidable reason for having a slow site, then provide visual feedback for the visitor while it loads.
17. Not monitoring your site
There are numerous tools available for monitoring your site. They can provide valuable insights into the behaviour of users on your site, allowing you to determine where they come from, how they found your site and the kind of content that they are interested in and which links are the most popular. With excellent tools available free of charge, there is no excuse not to monitor who is visiting your site and what they do once they arrive.
Choosing a domain name may seem straightforward, but there are several important factors that should be considered - and not all of them are obvious.
A domain name is the first step towards starting your online business. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a simple case of registering your company name with “.com.au” attached to the end. There are many considerations when purchasing and registering a domain name, some which you may be aware of and others that don’t present themselves as obviously.
Before we go into the processes and considerations of purchasing domain names, let’s look at a brief history so there is an understanding of how the domain name system was developed. Reaching a machine by domain name started much like dialing a telephone. You may have noticed the word machine in the previous sentence. This is because in the early days of the internet (the late 60’s and early 70’s), two machines being linked by cable were used to transfer files to each other. These connections were the commencement of the early internet, spurring on engineers and computer programmers to make better, faster and more reliable connections to even more machines. In 1969 ARPANET, a network of computers set up by US Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and Bolt Beranek and Newman (the company who won the government contract to work on the project), were used to send email between each other, proving to be the most popular application within the ARPANET network. By the middle of 1969 ARPANET had 62 computers attached to its network, the very beginnings of our online, digital world. In the early 1980’s a system was implemented to allow users to connect to machines by human-readable names, instead of the physical address which is represented by numbers (an IP address). Shortly after, American Paul Mockapetris proposed a Domain Name System (DNS) architecture that remains essentially the same today. This allowed people to type in a name like George or Washington to connect to a machine instead of using an IP address. This concept remains pretty much the same today with the addition of extensions like .au or .uk. In Australia, the .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is responsible for the regulation and policy authority of the .au domain name system. This is the body that accredits and licenses registrars; companies that wish to sell domain names, receive consumer complaints and initiate consumer safeguards regarding Australian domain names. http://www.auda.com.au/
Different types of domain names
First you will need to think about the domain name(s) you are going to purchase. The obvious choice to start with is http://www.yourcompanynamehere.com.au/ but there are other considerations. There are many extensions of the .au: .edu .org .asn .info .gov .net .biz Some of these are used for government and associations etc, but there are different variations of the .au that may suit your business.
For more information about the different domain name variations and what they mean, please visit http://www.auda.org.au/domains/au-domains/ . The .com.au is the most recognised and widely used extension in Australia, with most businesses opting to use this, so if possible attempt to register your business name under the .com.au domain name to help protect your online identity. It is noted that to register a .com.au in Australia, the registration needs to be attached to a company.
Trademarks and domain names
Before you register your domain name it is advisable that you check to make sure there is no potential trademark infringement by doing so. As the domain name applicant it is your job to ensure that the domain name you want to register does not infringe trademark legislation. If you intend to trademark your business/domain name, you should search both www.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks , IPAustralia’s trademark database and http://www.ausregistry.com.au/ for .com.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au and gov.au names to make sure they are not already registered.
What constitutes a trademark infringement?
auDA explains it as this:
“By using a domain name that is identical to, or deceptively similar to a registered trade mark, there is a risk of trade mark infringement, particularly if the name relates to the same or similar goods or services covered by the trade mark registration.”
For more information about trademarks in Australia go to http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ . To register a .com.au you will need:
- Company name
- Business name
- Address details
- Contact details
- Credit card details if you choose to purchase online.
- try adding a hyphen to the name
- try adding a combination of hyphens
- abbreviate or use acronyms This method should be used as a last resort as there are still plenty of domain names available for the creative site owner.
Thinking of a domain name for your business
Keep it short
Trying to remember a series of several terms instead of two to three memorable words creates unnecessary complexity for potential customers. Keep your domain name short and punchy.
Obscure names and references can confuse and disorientate users when trying to recall your domain name. They may also go to a more relevant site-name when searching for your product or service in any of the major search engines. There is also a term called ‘type in traffic’ – this is the type of website visitor that is looking for shoes or home insurance and will type in http://www.shoes.com.au/ or http://www.homeinsurance.com.au/ to their internet browser so having a specific domain name can help pull these types of visitors in.
Make it easy
With such a time-poor world, simplifying and reducing the amount of work a consumer needs to do to spend money with you brings you one step ahead of your competition. Remember, your competitors are only a back button away, so “keeping it simple online” is sage advice.
Don’t use difficult words
People are lazy consumers. We want something close by, easy to find at a good price with the least amount of hassle and pain. This attitude juxtaposes itself into the online world as well. Just because your marketing company is called “Guerrilla Entrepreneur Hierarchy Systems” don’t expect your potential customers to try to spell these types of words when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other companies whose names are easier to remember selling your service or product.
If possible, try to avoid using the number 0 in your Domain Name. This can often be mistaken for the letter o. Likewise, try and avoid using 2 for ‘to’, 4 for ‘for’ and the letter u for ‘you’ as these terms can confuse your visitors.
Register more than one
You are able to register multiple domain names and this can sometimes prove useful from a marketing and search engine optimisation perspective. If you are a software company called SoftwareNOW Pty Ltd that develops content management software and online learning software, you may want to consider registering http://www.contentma/ nagementsoftware.com.au and http://www.onlinelearningsoftware.com.au/. Doing this may also prove to be successful in creating better rankings for those keyword terms in search engines.
The generic equivalent of your product or service
When registering a domain it’s always a great idea to see if the generic equivalent of your product or service is available to purchase. As mentioned above this will help with search engine rankings as most people look for the generic equivalent i.e. hamburger as opposed to your brand i.e. McDonalds™. If you also use this address when asking people to link to your website, this will give search engines a better idea that your website is about the product or service within the domain name. For example, if I was a florist in Manly, I would look for the domain name http://www.floristsmanly.com.au/ or perhaps http://www.manlyflorists.com.au/ .
Look at old domains
Sometimes looking at old and expired domains can help you get your site ranked better in search engines. For example, an old domain may have several hundred links to it. Pointing this old domain to your website may increase the speed of your website getting crawled and indexed and may help in search engine rankings. (More on this topic in the Search Engine Optimisation section.)
If selling internationally, buy that country’s extension if possible.
Make it memorable
Sayings or combinations of words that infuse themselves into our language and become colloquial are part of our everyday life therefore, these types of addresses can usually be recalled without having to think. See example below. (Note – this is only an example designed to help you choose your own domain name that best suits your company type and industry.)
Example: Richards Lawncare & Garden Services Pty Ltd
Whilst this address may not reflect the company name, it’s a saying that permeates its way through every household in the Australian summer and can be easily recalled by almost everyone. With savvy marketing efforts, this name could be easy for your visitors to remember.
Is your domain already registered?
Many people think the registration of your business and company name automatically restricts the online equivalent from being registered. This is incorrect. Domain names are issued on a ‘first come first served’ basis so it makes sense to get in quickly and register the best possible name for your business. To check if the domain name you want to register is available, go to http://www.godaddy.com.au
What to do if your domain name is already registered
If you feel that there is no alternative name that suits your business and you want to register a similar name to one that is taken, there are some variations that might be available. For example:
I have my domain name – now what?
Make sure you keep the details of your domain name registrar. These are the people you will need to deal with for all your domain name issues including pointing your domain name to your website when it is created and re-registering your domain name. It’s worth pointing out that you don’t actually own a domain name. You license its use for a set period. This is very important to remember because if your registration lapses, someone else can rightfully register your old domain name.
Domain name scams – don’t get caught
Making sure you keep your domain name information in order can help to ensure you do not get caught out by domain name scams. One of the more popular scams has been conducted by gathering information about domain names from publicly available sources like WHOIS and then sending letters to the owners of these domain names telling them that they are required to re-register their domain name otherwise they could potentially lose it. The unsuspecting owner pays this renewal to a company they don’t know and have never dealt with. These types of scams typically only ask for a small fee of between $50 and $100 to avoid suspicion. Many people have been duped by this type of scam. Make sure you know who your domain names are registered through and keep all your paperwork so you can cross reference this with any suspect information you may get. Once your domain name is registered you will need to find a hosting provider for your soon-to-be-created website.
Choose Domain name
Choosing a domain name may seem straignforward, but there are several important factors that should be considered - and not all of them are obvious.
17 Mistakes to avoid on your Website
17 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Web Site Many of the world's websites suffer from mistakes that can dramatically impact their effectiveness. We've compiled a list of the 17 common mistakes with helpful advice on how to avoid them.