Top 15 Mistakes IT Websites Make and How You Can Avoid Them

According to a Computer and Information Science study, information technology professionals have high levels of agreeableness and tough-mindedness. In other words, you’re naturally empathetic, considerable, and cooperative. You’re also determined and fast-thinking.

The study also notes that IT professionals have lower levels of extraversion, assertiveness, and customer service orientation. These softer qualities are fundamentally what enable any professional in any industry to communicate with prospective clients.

Unlike IT professionals, business executives are more likely to possess these juggernaut right-brain skills. Therefore, their eyes glaze over when they encounter a jargon-packed, text-heavy IT website.

To reach them, you’ll have to repackage your site’s information. You'll also have to rethink your company's web design. Before you do, read our list of the 15 biggest, conversion-stopping mistakes IT companies make, and our recommendations for correcting them.

1. Poor Scannability

Unlike books or magazines, people don’t read websites. They scan them. They look for bold, thought-provoking headlines. They look for compelling bullet points, professional images, and attractive graphics. Once they see something interesting, then they’ll stop and read a paragraph or two.

Headlines, bullets, numbered lists, images, and graphics function as anchor points. They catch the audience’s eyes and lead them to more in-depth information.

Unfortunately, most IT websites have huge amounts of information displayed in a busy format.

To find out if your website is one of them, use the squint test. Squint your eyes and scroll through your website. If you can easily discern what each web page covers, then your website is adequately scannable.

What We Recommend

If it's not scannable, convert your existing pages to a simpler, clean web design. Edit your content for clarity, and write large, interesting headlines. Format your website’s text so that subheads and small paragraphs break up large blocks of text. Include visually appealing images and icons.

2. Too Few Internal Links

The real genius behind the Web is its interlinked resources, which allow readers to explore and find more information. Without internal links, your website misses an opportunity to connect the audience to other important content you have available.

IT companies sell large engagements. Because of that, it takes time to build relationships with new clients. Internal links also help your audience to spend more time on the website, building your business' credibility and growing your audience's trust.

What We Recommend

Each page should have a singular focus, and a singular CTA (call to action). Your content should guide your audience through the focus to the CTA.

Insert links to internal content that support that guidance. Be careful not to link indiscriminately on any web page. This practice, which copywriters call “link soup,” steers your audience in dispersed directions.

3. No Clear Call To Action (CTA)

Direct sales isn't your specialty. Your website’s technically-minded content lays out dry facts, and then lets the reader make the final decision to purchase. Without including obvious CTAs, you risk reducing conversions.

What We Recommend

Take the next step and explain what the reader should do with the information you provided.

You want to convince prospective clients to hire you. To do this effectively, start with soft CTA rather than a hard sell. Just like you wouldn’t propose marriage on the first date, you wouldn’t necessarily ask for a direct sales conversion at the bottom of a web page.

Instead, work up to direct sales. Offer a free audit, checklist, evaluation, strategy call, or consultation. This softer strategy helps your audience recognize that they have a problem, and it suggests that your team can solve it.

4. Complicated Navigation

A sitemap (the hierarchy of pages within your website) requires a strategy, just like your content and your website’s design. If you have a navigation menu with too many items (more than 8), then your audience will feel overwhelmed.

What We Recommend

Create a navigation menu with 5 to 8 items. Group Service, Product, and Category pages together according to the subject matter they cover. For example, put hardware-related Service and Product pages together on the same drop down menu.

5. Hard-to-Find Contact Information

One of the main complaints web users have, particularly mobile users, is not being able to locate your contact information.

What if they are a prospective client who wants to ask you a pre-sales question? What if they are an existing client who didn’t save your contact information?

The last thing they want to do is go to another web page or fill out a contact form. They’re suffering with an IT problem and they need your help now.

What We Recommend

Make sure your contact information is only one click away from every web page. It should be immediately obvious when your audience opens any page. Put your content information in at least one of the following places: the header (top of site), the footer (bottom of site), and the navigation menu’s top level.

6. Clunky Headlines

Headlines on IT websites are often dry and factual. That doesn’t compel readers. They’re more interested in questions and controversial statements. If they’re not emotionally involved somehow, then they won’t stay interested.

What We Recommend

To get started, work on creating succinct but emotive headlines. Try free, online tools like CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer. Use a persuasive tone instead of jargon.

Avoid DIYing your website's text, and consider working with an experienced, professional copywriter. A copywriter’s job is to collect information from you, translate it into layman's terms, and craft digestible text specifically for your target audience.

7. No Graphics

IT professionals deal with technical documents on a daily basis. As a result, you’re undeterred by dry text. Business executives—your prospective client base—aren't. They’re more engaged by images.

What We Recommend

Icons should work as visual anchors. For example, in the Arbor Solutions’ Services Page, the custom icons add an eye-catching, visual appeal to the website.

It makes the web page more scannable, and represents the services Arbor Solutions’ audience seeks. Most importantly, the audience doesn’t need to stop and read every line of text.

8. No Social Media Links

You’re likely active on social media. Don’t let that go to waste. Use it to connect with current and prospective clients.

Social media is a place to build relationships and grow thought leadership. Interested prospects will watch your interactions on social media, and determine how helpful and knowledgeable your staff is.

What We Recommend

Where you place social media icons depends on how engaged your company is on those channels. Minimally engaged IT companies should put their icons in the footer. Companies with a large, engaged following should feature their icons more prominently, such as in the header.

9. No Mobile Responsive Design

IT problems can strike anywhere, at any time. The person on the other end of the line—your business executive—may only be armed with their cell phone. They’ve searched you out, and now they’re trying to call you for help.

How does your mobile site look? Is it easy to use and ready to impress? Does it clearly show that your client can start an engagement right from your mobile website?

If not, you should be ready to invest in a new, mobile-friendly, responsive web design and a new, mobile-friendly content strategy.

What We Recommend

Implement a new web design geared toward maximizing effectiveness for mobile users. The content strategy should also clearly speak to mobile users; namely, people who are in a hurry. Make sure the new website operates on the wide variety of mobile devices and operating systems.

10. Jargon-Heavy Content

Your website isn’t for you. It isn’t even for other IT professionals. It’s for your target audience. Your audience likely doesn’t know IT terminology.

Therefore, you should avoid using too much of it. When you do drop IT terms, make sure you’re providing explanations about the terms and speaking the audience’s language.

What We Recommend

Contact a professional, experienced content strategist and copywriter who isn’t working in the IT trenches. They can recognize common IT terms and translate them into plain English for your business executive audience.

11. Not on a Content Management System

Does your company have a static HTML website? Or, does it have software that makes editing difficult? With these challenges, many IT companies don’t bother to edit their content. Your content becomes stale, and consequently your website loses engagement.

What We Recommend

Install a modern content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. Newer, user-friendly content management systems simplify how your staff can make changes to your website. As a result, your staff can quickly post blogs, edit CTAs, and add valuable content without the risk of breaking and rewriting code.

12. Outdated Web Design

You’re so busy serving clients that you don’t have time to serve your company. Your website should have been redesigned years ago.

Now, you’ve let the redesign go too long. Your website is no longer attracting next-gen clients. It looks archaic. You need a new, professional web design.

What We Recommend

Understand that your website is an effective marketing tool. It should be what your audience (read: business people) are looking for and still match your company’s brand identity. If your site is outdated, it’s necessary to revise its web design and give it a cleaner layout.

13. No Blog

Your company doesn't regularly publishing unique blog posts. You're therefore overlooking the chance to make critical connections with your client base. How do blogs engage your audience?

  • Blogs demonstrate your expertise. They show that you're aware of your audience’s interests and problems.
  • Blogs allow comments, giving your audience the ability to ask you direct questions. This approachable format also gives you the ability to converse casually with your existing and prospective clients.
  • Your company can repurpose blog content in email newsletters and social media and give you a significant return on your investment.

To dive deeper, read our post Why Your Business Website Needs a Blog.

What We Recommend

Hire a professional content strategist and copywriter with experience producing content for IT. Set up a meeting to discuss the topics you’d like covered, and let your strategist develop a long-term content calendar (a schedule of which topics to post when).

14. No Email Signups

IT professionals tend to view email as an antiquated technology. While email may seem outdated compared to the communication systems you deal with as an IT pro, email is still the most effective, least expensive way to market your services.

Unlike social media marketing, people can’t miss emails. Your email will sit in their inbox until they scroll down and delete it.

The single biggest obstacle you face with email marketing is that people have to sign up to receive it.

Some IT companies still try to collect email addresses manually. The better way to do this is to generate lead magnets. In this format, your audience willingly provides their contact information in exchange for valuable content. You send them the valuable content, and continue to market to them.

What We Recommend

You’re well aware of what clients complain about and which solutions you’d offer them. Work with a content strategist to brainstorm what your audience would want in exchange for getting them to join your email list. Then, hire a copywriter to create compelling lead magnets and subsequently show your audience the value they'll be getting.

To learn more, review our post about the benefits of email marketing.

15. Too Many Stock Photos

Your website relies on stock imagery to depict your staff and your company’s brand identity. Common stock photo examples feature people of a variety of ages and races shaking hands or sitting in a boardroom.

The clients who visit your site and then visit your office will know this depiction is inaccurate. By using stock photos rather than showing the real people you employ, you negatively impact your company’s credibility and indicate that you may be hiding something.

What We Recommend

Images, ideally, should evoke your audience’s emotions. Try to use photos of people smiling. These positive images signal to the audience that your IT services have benefited the people depicted in them.

Instead of relying exclusively on stock photos, include actual photos of your staff and office. It’s an expensive but worthwhile investment to commission high-quality photography. If possible, put your executive team and salespeople on the website because clients will interact with those members of your staff.

Perhaps most importantly, the photos you use (stock or commissioned) must represent your company and its staff in a professional, authentic way. Photos should fit your company’s overall image and brand identity.

Invest in a Website Redesign from OptimWise

As you consider what to do with your IT company’s website, review these frequently made mistakes and how to avoid them.

Contact the web design and online marketing team at OptimWise to learn how we can implement a new web design and create content for your IT website. We specialize in redesigning websites and producing unique, optimized content for small and medium-sized IT companies.

Featured image by mrdonduck

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