Have you heard those stories about people snatching up unbelievably low airfares due to data entry errors or computer glitches? We’re talking amazing deals like $5 cross-country fares, first class flights at 90% off, or two tickets for the price of one. While such errors are a windfall for you the customer, they’re not at all good for you the business owner.
Company blunders like these provide useful insights to understanding how to build a website that both serves your customers and positively impacts your bottom line. We’ve used them as inspiration to pull together this must-do list for avoiding costly mistakes.
Quality check all your content
You already know that your website needs to be checked for typos and pricing errors. But the prospect of giving away a 90% discount might underscore that it’s the single most important thing you should do. Make sure you have a good plan for your quality check. Use a sitemap or other document checklist and have two or more people check each section. As an extra caution, have one person make the changes and another person double-check their work. And don’t forget to check any and all links.
Be smart about website security
Everyone has heard nightmare stories of hackings—like the infamous dating website that exposed customer data. Or the major motion picture studio that got hacked right before their widely promoted movie release. There’s never a good time to be hacked, and it’s never easy dealing with a PR disaster or having to pay unexpected costs to repair your site and your company reputation.
Thank goodness for WordPress. WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system that lets you build a website with top of the line security features. Bluehost is recommended by WordPress and we’re true believers in its power and ease of use. Make sure your web host offers security measures and firewalls to help safeguard your data, as well as backup systems that seamlessly restore your site should the worst happen. And read up on security best practices, like strong passwords and SSL certificates.
Test every customer interaction
On the bright side, some website blunders can be turned into a positive, as in the case of the startup that got mainstream press coverage before their website was ready. The company vastly exceeded sales goals—and wouldn’t we all like to have that kind of problem— but they hadn’t built a “Sold out” button and they couldn’t deliver on their promises. While the startup was able to use the situation to hone their customer service approach, that mistake could have ruined their business before it even got off the ground.
Map out the interactions that your customers will need to complete your desired call to action: submitting their email address, adding items to cart, checking out, and so on. Then, give those interactions a quality-check to see what happens if something goes wrong, such as an incomplete address or selecting a sold-out item. Do you have the proper user interactions and messaging in place to make sure you don’t lose the customer? Learn more with our secrets to effective call to action buttons.
Plan for outrageous success
Make sure that your web host can scale, whether you have ten visitors a day or tens of thousands. If you’re like our startup example, and lucky enough to have overnight success, a killer site, great press, and thousands of visitors, the last thing you want is to have your site crash from too many users. If you start with an economy hosting plan, make sure it’s easy to scale up to a higher-end plan.
We suggest researching the best web hosting plan for your needs. Look at extra benefits like Bluehost’s managed WordPress solutions that can streamline your maintenance needs and enhance your security at the same time.
Make sure your site is user-friendly and appealing
Just for fun, check out the World’s Worst Website Ever. It’s a parody of the way a lot of websites looked in the 1990s. You know, lots of flashing graphics, crazy fonts, and wacky color combinations. But it’s a new millennium now and the most successful websites are not only graphically beautiful, they’re built with a responsive design theme—one that adapts to screens of all sizes and easily loads images and videos on cell phones. With today’s digital natives and millions of mobile users, responsive design is a priority. Don’t make your customers wait for images to load or zoom in to read tiny print; they’ll most likely give up and leave before they find what they want. See some of our favorite responsive designs here.
Be proactive, cover all your bases, and never stop learning
To err is human, but with proper planning, systematic checklists, and thorough testing, you can drastically reduce your odds of an epic fail. Make sure your web host offers great customer service that can guide you through the technical issues.
If want to know even more about how to make a great website, check out our comprehensive guide: How to Build a Website for Your Small Business. We’re all in for your success with this and other website design tips on the Bluehost Blog.
Once you’ve got the design and content nailed down, check out our tips for getting out the word on your website.
Tamara Ford is a content strategist, writer, and principal of Clear Sky Content. As a longtime WordPress fan, Tamara has hosted websites on Bluehost for more than a decade.