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5 Common Website Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Website Mistakes to Avoid

There are currently over one billion websites online right now, with multiple sites being created every second. Creating a website that will stand out from the pack, especially a pack of that size, is no mean feat.

Although design and development trends like carousels (*shudder*), flat design and longform homepages have all had their moments in the sun, there’s still no silver bullet when it comes to creating the perfect website. But there are definitely some things that you might want to think twice about if you’re creating a site to showcase your talents as a freelancer or for your own business!

1. That big homepage image

You know the one I’m talking about. A shiny MacBook on a vintage wooden desk, surrounded by ‘creative’ stuff like an Instamatic camera or a leather-bound notebook. Probably has a cup of coffee with a fancy pattern in the foam too. It’s ok; I used to have this very image on the homepage of my site—it came with my theme and I just left it there. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how little sense that made.

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If you’re a photographer and you’re showcasing one of your own photos? That’s a different story. But I’m a writer—I should be showcasing my writing, not some stock photo. Instead of the first thing visitors see on your site being a giant photo and your company name, which they already know since they managed to find their way to your site, hit them with a big ol’ title telling people exactly what you do.

MailChimp is a great example of this—land on their homepage and the first thing you see is Send Better Email in big, bold lettering.

2. Trying to sound bigger than you are

I totally understand why freelancers and small businesses do this, but I’m including it on this list of common website mistakes anyway. Yes, writing in the third person and implying that you’re a huge agency arguably makes it easier for you to charge a little more. However, you also risk being asked to do things much more quickly than you have the bandwidth to do.

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And what if a client wants a Skype call? Unless you go to extraordinary lengths (and I’m talking slapstick comedy movie lengths) to keep up the charade, your client will end up feeling like you’ve deceived them when they see it’s just you in your home office.

Using first person makes it easier to infuse your writing with your personality. It also reassures potential clients that they’ll be dealing with a qualified expert in the field (that’s you, bud), not some entry-level intern who only joined two weeks ago.

3. Jargon

Here at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net, we’re all about using brand engagement to move the needle and streamline your core competency.

Ok, that’s fine. But it doesn’t really get me any closer to understanding what you actually do. Using corporate buzzwords and jargon doesn’t help you sound big and impressive. It just confuses the hell out of people who actually might want to work with you.

I wrote above about the importance of making what you do clear to new visitors using your homepage headline. Same goes for the rest of your content – be direct, and focus on the benefits your product/service can offer. And use plain English! After a day of reading puffed out jargon, this will be a very welcome change for visitors to your site.

4. SEO lies!

When it comes to SEO, it’s very easy to get greedy. You see your site rising through the ranks for a certain term, maybe even cracking the first page of Google, and think ‘wow, this is awesome!’ Then you start thinking about trying to rank for other terms. While you shouldn’t be afraid to get creative with this, there is a line it’s not wise to cross.

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There’s definitely mileage in targeting terms like ‘alternatives to X,’ but there’s absolutely no point in targeting ‘X with Y’ if you don’t actually offer Y. Any visitors you bring in will very quickly realize that you can’t do what they need you to. As well as being frustrating for them, creating a bad impression of your company, they’ll also hit the Back button to return to Google. Although Google stays very quiet about how they determine site rankings, it’s very likely that too much of this will result in them penalizing your site for trying to trick people.

5. Popups

I’m not (just) talking about popup ads here. I’m also talking about popups designed to get people to take an action such as:

  • Join your mailing list
  • Share a post
  • Follow you on social media.

Using one of the above? Absolutely fine. But having popups trying to get someone to do all three things, or potentially even more, on a single page will drive people up the wall! Think about the most important action people can take on a given page and focus on getting them to do that, rather than doing a bit of everything.

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It’s worth saying that all of the items on this list are subjective. As I’ve highlighted in a couple of places, there are times when things will be appropriate for use on one site but not another—some industries and spaces have best practices that are very different to those of others. When in doubt, ask existing customers (and potential customers) what they want from a site and try to keep that in mind throughout its creation. If you do that, and do it well, you can’t go too far wrong!

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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