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Modern Garden Marketing

News, ideas and opinion on marketing in the 21st Century for the Australian garden industry

Common website problems

Poor website design can affect the experience of your human visitors (and therefore sales) as well as affect it's performance in search engines, which will affect the chances of humans finding your website at all.

Don't let SEO (Search engine optimisation) interfere with humans being able to use your website for it's intended purpose (that it is still needs to be attractive, professional, easy to navigate, easy to read etc). Fortunately, many improvements for humans will help the search engines, too.

Here are a few problems common on websites of nurseries and landscape businesses, and suggestions for improvement

Splash Page

This is a home page that has little content except fancy graphics (often animated) that the visitor has to click on to enter the website proper. Generally, they are considered an annoyance to visitors and detrimental to seach engine ranking. Get rid of the splash page and make your first page or real content your homepage If you need convincing, check out the following links:

How a Splash Page May Hurt Your Website
How to Convince a Client They Don't Need a Splash Page

Titles are not meaningful and/or don't contain keywords

What we're talking about here is the piece of text that appears in the very top of of your browser, and which appears as the title in search engine results (so you can guess that it's going to be quite important). It's defined in the code of your webpage between the title tags.

Menu not clear and logical

Organise the pages in logical categories and subcategories. Use easy-to-understand descriptors. Certain categories have become fairly standard and may be looked for by visitors - e.g. "About Us" (general company info), "Products", "Delivery and Shipping" and "Contact" or "Visit Us".

Not enough text

A very bad practice is the construction of a whole webpage out of images. This leaves little for search engines to index, apart from the title and image tags. Important information displayed in the images is not seen by the search engine and so can't be searched by humans.

These image-laden pages are also an imposition on vistors who may be on slow connections or bandwidth restrictions. (more on this problem below).

Information dispayed as regular text will be fast to load and indexable by search engines. Text has to be clear and concise for human readers, but more text may be an advantage to search engines as you have the opportunity for adding extra keywords (and for all we know, SEs might take larger pages more seriously). If you are going to add extra text, be sure to organise it well, use pleanty of subheadings and display the most important information toward the top of the page (preferably the first screen), to be sure that the time-poor or just impatient visitor will see it.

Too many images and/or image files too big

Apart from the serious issue of text being hidden in images, too many images in general is an issue.

Take a crtical look at headers, backgrounds, menus and incidental illustrations. A common problem is the use of huge image files reduced down to fit the page by defining the dimensions of the display without actually reducing the size of the image file itself. Try saving the image as in jpg format at a lower resolution and/or cropping the image.

One of the advantages of the web is that you can provide plenty of colour colour pictures can be displayed at the fraction of the cost of a print brochure, but give visitors a choice. For image galleries or product catalogues, try displaying a small thumnail image which visitors can click on to download larger images and more information if they wish.

Some people are still on slow connections, others on broadband have download limits. Don't annoy the people you're trying to sell to.

The other disadvantage of excess images is that it may cost you extra in hosting fees if you get a lot of visitors due to the additional bandwidth required.

Flash

Flash technology is useful for demonstration videos and such, but as the basis of a webpage has similar problems as the the all-image page. Does Flash serve a purpose onyour site or are you just trying to look flashy?
Modern Garden Marketing is a collection of news, opinion, information and resources for those working inside the Australian garden and landscape industry in the 21st century. Start Here

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