Nine Problems with DIY Website Builders 

DIY website builder

There have been an explosion of DIY website builders1 over the past ten years. They promise to be easy to set up and simple to maintain, but are they really as good as they claim to be?

If you’re a small business owner, finding the time to work on your website can be a challenge, especially when you’re working 12 hour days already. The claimed convenience and alleged affordability can make these DIY website builders start to sound pretty attractive. However, when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll soon discover that they aren’t all what they’re packaged up to be.

The Truth Behind DIY Website Builders

They do a good job of selling themselves with the 'quick and easy' set-up slogans and the 'cheap to run' tag lines. So if you genuinely don't know what your looking for and just want 'a website', it's pretty easy to see how they’d sound tempting.

The thing is, nobody really only just wants ‘a website’. You want a shop window for your business, an online method of generating leads; to grow sales; a digital marketing strategy; to attract new customers; to increase your customer loyalty and countless other things. You see, your website is there to serve your business objectives, whatever they may be.

When you pause to consider why you want a website in the first place, and what you need it to do, you'll quickly realize that your needs are specific. And if you want your website to perform as best as it can and market your business effectively, then you need it to do exactly what you and your potential customers want it to do. This is where DIY website builders start to falter.

The Problems

To help you make an informed decision and put those DIY website builder sales pitches into perspective, we've put together some of the top reasons why DIY website builders honestly aren't likely to meet your needs.

Standardized Sites = No Originality

DIY website builders often have a limited number of templates (or designs) to choose from. This means that there’s a large chance of many other websites using the same design as you. If thousands of websites look exactly the same as yours, you’ll struggle to stand out, which will hurt your online brand, especially if you’re running an e-commerce store2.

2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Implications

Getting to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when your potential customers search for something related to your business on Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on, is one of the best ways to find new customers online. With DIY website builders, the help on hand to achieve this is limited and the effect of built-in SEO capability is often below par3.

3. Domain Name Restrictions

It’s important to have an easy to remember web address (or domain name) for your website. It’s what people will see in search engines and on your marketing materials. Most website builders don’t allow you to create your own domain name3, so instead of, you’ll have or something just as hideous.

4. Unintuitive Content Management Systems (CMS)

When you make changes, create new pages or edit your web content, you’ll use a CMS. Some of these website builders have a difficult to use CMS, which makes it hard to create new pages, edit content and make changes on your website4 quickly and simply. Some only let you build one page websites too, which is more restrictive than gardening in a straight jacket.

5. Inefficient Support

If you’re new to the internet or you’re creating your first business website, having support on hand when things go wrong is important. Some DIY web builders can take a while to respond to service requests, sometimes taking longer than a day to get back to you4. How many sales might you lose in 24 hours?

6. Poor e-Commerce Facilities

Few website builders come with e-commerce facilities either as standard or as an added extra, and those that do tend to be poorly executed. You might be able to get your online store up and running, but making any customized additions and specific changes is virtually impossible5, and expanding is also a challenge6

7. Hard Blogging

When it comes to online marketing, blogging keeps your website fresh and is often the cornerstone of your user engagement. DIY website builders often make blogs difficult to customize, hard to maintain and they usually have less flexibility over RSS feeds7and social sharing. Some might not even help your SEO8, which is one of the primary reasons for blogging in the first place!

8. Sub-Standard Website Analytics

To make your website better and increase sales and leads, you need to know what’s happening on it; what your users are doing and why they’re leaving. You can use website analytics to do this, but many DIY website builders use old tracking scripts9, which lack accuracy, or only offer limited features10, which won’t help you make informed decisions.

Making the Right Choice

DIY website builders are well intended and mean no harm. As comparably cheap and easy to set up as they may, in some cases be, they almost certainly won’t meet your business needs and you’ll outgrow them quicker than a toddler does its shoes.

I’m yet to find a DIY website builder that can address each of the above points, like you would if you went to a proper development company. So don’t fall for the sales pitch; take your time, do your research, understand what you want, then speak to people (link to who can help you achieve your goals properly.

This way, you’ll have a future proof, professional, unique and purpose-built website that will grow with your business and constantly meet your needs. And isn’t that what a website is supposed to do in the first place.












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Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 3:51:00 PM Categories: B2C retail marketing web design web development website

Sure-Fire Ways to Cause Shopping Cart Abandonment 

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Minimizing shopping cart abandonment is the Holy Grail for ecommerce. Less people abandoning = more sales and revenue. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. But what’s causing your users to abandon? And how can you encourage them to hang around and persist with their purchase?

First, it’s important to understand what your abandonment rate is. You need to know where you are in order to understand where you want to end up, and every site in every industry is different. The average shopping cart abandonment rate is around 68%1, so you may well be loosing literally thousands of sales through sometimes simple nuances that cause users to either abandon or switch to a competitor.

There are plenty of reasons why most of your users abandon their shopping carts and we’ve put together four of the major points to look out for:

1. Hidden costs2

Not being up front with the total cost of your items is a sure-fire way to obliterate trust and negatively effect the perception of your company, as well as lose sales. This may have long lasting effects and could mean you lose a customer for life as a result of trying to skim an extra few cheeky dollars.

Ticket companies like Ticket Master and Get Me In do this all the time. You’ll find your ticket, agree with the price, choose your seat, head to the checkout and then you're hit with a booking fee and delivery costs that are sometimes as high as an extra 20% on the ticket price. 

People these days don’t trust businesses that aren’t transparent. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Be up front or remove unnecessary costs that don’t add value to your products and serve only to tacitly increase revenue.

2. Postage

If you can, offer free shipping. This will add pleasant value for your customers, helping push them over the conversion line and will be a strong pull for them to return. 

Whether you can offer free shipping is entirely dependent on your type of business. Selling books for a dollar and charging an extra dollar for postage isn’t such a big deal. However, a $50 shipping charge for a $500 TV starts to sound off-putting. 

73% of online shoppers note free shipping as a critical factor in their purchasing decisions and 93% claim they’re likely to spend more if free shipping is included3. If you’re making more sales and people are spending more, the hit you’ll take on offering free shipping will be recuperated by all those extra sales.

3. No ‘Guest' checkout

If you don’t offer a Guest checkout facility and force every would-be customer to register with your site before making a purchase, you can kiss goodbye to a potential 45% increase in sales2. A forced registration can easily lead to abandonment for those that just want to make a purchase then leave. You may as well redirect 20% of your traffic to a competitor and save yourself from having to pick through your poorly performing web metrics.

It might surprise you to learn that most people don’t care enough about your brand to register before checking out. Some just want to pay and get on with their lives. The best thing you can do is let them pay. Focus on taking the payment. Do this well enough and, if everything else works well (your website’s easy to use, the product is as expected and it arrives on time), they’ll be back. 

If it’s customer insight you’re striving for through a forced registration, then include an option to subscribe to updates by email and lure them into registering this way. Play the long game and don’t be desperate.

4. Mobile optimization 

People usually act with more urgency on mobiles, so optimizing your ecommerce website for mobile could see an increase in impulse purchases. With 30% of ecommerce web traffic coming from mobile devices4, they're very few excuses for not having an optimized site these days. 

Picking and pinching and zooming and aiming are all laborious tasks to do while you’re on a phone or tablet. But, this is exactly what users have to do on desktop sites when they access them on mobiles.

In a world where brands are investing heavily in fingerprint5 and facial6 recognition to unlock your mobile phone, simply to save you the energy expelled from moving your thumb up two inches to type in a pass code, removing any unnecessary friction is imperative when crafting a seamless user journey. If you don’t have a mobile optimized site, it takes a heck of a lot of dedication on behalf of the user to make a purchase. It’s far easier to bail or head to a competitor with a website that’s easier to use. 

Finding Your Holy Grail

Realistically, you’ll never have 100% of users pass through the checkout. Plenty of people simply use their shopping basket as a wish list and never intend to check out in the first place. Also, there’ll always be small nuances that cause users to abandon and you’ll always have small tweaks to make here and there. Your work is ever truly done. However, optimize your processes and minimize the above issues and you’ll certainly tempt some of the current defectors into checking out and surely see that abandonment rate reduce.








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Posted by Tuesday, August 12, 2014 9:53:00 PM Categories: B2C online marketing retail marketing

Three SEO Trends To Keep An Eye On 

By Steve Hoag

SEO trendsSearch Engine Optimization is a critical component of any online marketing strategy. It’s so important for building online exposure and recognition that ignoring it can cost your company thousands of dollars in lost sales. That’s why it’s important to keep a tab on new developments like:

SEO and content marketing gradually becoming synonymous.

Content marketing and SEO are so deeply intertwined that it’s becoming harder to run a successful SEO program without utilizing great content. 2013 was the year content marketing became a buzz word and growing trend. 2014 is the year it becomes a mandatory part of every SEO program.

Social media growing increasingly important for SEO.

People are just uncovering the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how useful social media can be to SEO. Social media is already demonstrating how reliable it can be as a source of traffic and brand awareness. As search engines become more intelligent, they will begin to take a harder look at the impact of social media when ranking websites.

Mobile optimization becomes mandatory.

Over half of Americans own smartphones, and a third of them use tablets at this point. Optimizing your website for mobile users is essentially a must-have now for most businesses. Google’s Hummingbird updates will reward you for implementing a mobile strategy. That also means you will be on the outside looking in if you decide to ignore this growing market segment. A responsive design will go a long way for ensuring that your website stays at the top of rankings and in front of your customers!


View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, May 29, 2014 1:51:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C SEO social media web trends

Five Security Tips You Need To Implement 

By Steve Hoag

Website security tips

Website security is a huge issue right now. Heartbleed has affected many people. Homeland Security claims it’s no safe to use Internet Explorer anymore. A new threat, ‘Covert Redirect’ recently reared its ugly head last week. Multiple US agencies and Fortune 500 companies were affected by threats like these. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to maintain a high degree of security on your website. You never know when you may be the target of a cyber-attack. With that being said, check out these five tips you can implement right now to keep your site secure:

Restrict users from uploading files to the website server.

One of the easiest ways to boost your website’s security Is by preventing users from accessing your server files or uploading their own. Clever hackers may eventually find their way in, but don’t make it easy for them by allowing them to upload malicious files.

Require passwords that use a variety of character types.

There are too many people out there that have easy to guess passwords for important websites. Your password should never include your name, or anything else that’s easy to guess. Make sure that your website requires users to choose passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

Keep your website software updated.

CMS developers will often come out with new updates to address performance, security, and technology issue. Always make sure to update your site to take advantage of the latest developments! Hackers look for websites that aren’t updated, because their security systems aren’t up to snuff.

Read the news!

This may seem like a no brainer, but staying up to date with current events is an easy way to stay aware of new security threats and how to avoid them. Imagine if Fortune 500 companies decided to stop keeping up with current events and never heard of HeartBleed. They would have a huge problem on their hands, and have no clue what they were dealing with! A scary proposition indeed.


View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, May 19, 2014 11:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development web trends website

How To Improve Website Accessibility 

By Steve Hoag

how to optimize your website accessibility

Website accessibility is all about making sure anyone and everyone can access your website. There are many users out there who have disabilities or may be using devices that require additional accommodations. That being said, some things that can be done to improve accessibility will improve the user experience for everyone. Check out these tips on how to optimize your website accessibility:

Ensure your color scheme has an appropriate amount of contrast.

Color blindness is a very common condition among users. Make sure that your color scheme has enough contrast so that people with color blindness can still distinguish what exactly is on the page. Tools like help to mimic colorblindness on your website so that you can see where to make changes.

Utilize alternative content where necessary.

Alternative content is useful for users with vision/hearing problems.  Alternative content means using text for non-text content. For instance, using words to describe images, or including transcripts along with videos for users who are hard of hearing. A text only version of your website can also be useful for users with slower internet connections or devices that are outdated.

Utilize skip links.

Skip links allow speech software to skip over links/navigation items that are repeated on every page. This is useful for people who are vision impaired and don’t want to listen to the same menu items being repeated on every page. Skip links allow users to skip over repetitive links so that they can access the primary page content.

Explain Select Menus.

The default value on select menus should describe what the menu is intended for. For instance, if a form is asking for your bodyweight it should label the default value of the select menu as ‘select body weight’ instead of leaving it blank or including number with no explanation. This will help to ensure everyone clearly understands the purpose of forms and fields.

Use descriptive link names.

Use descriptive links whenever you can! A link that says ‘click here’ isn’t nearly as useful as ‘click here to download Windows 2010.’ When in doubt, be more descriptive. 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:24:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development website
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