Website mistakes to avoid
In this blog post (and part 2 of our two-part series about web sites for business) we dig into some not-so-obvious errors that people make with their websites. So, are you making these mistakes with your website that can seriously affect how it performs?
SSL or SS-hell?
A few years ago Google announced that it would prioritise secure websites for Google search and would flag up potential warnings for anyone visiting your site in Google Chrome.
This means that secure sites serving their pages as HTTPS are more likely to appear higher up in Google search rankings and worryingly for some businesses, visitors to some sites would experience a message warning them that the site they are visiting not only isn’t secure but that it wasn’t safe to visit!
SSL certification is critical to any business website and put simply it looks like an S is added to the end of http so that it becomes https.
If your website is currently http://www.yourwebsite.com then it needs SSL certification and it will become https://yourwebsite.com.
If your website doesn’t have SSL certification, contact your web designer immediately. They should have offered this to you years ago and it's critical for all websites that contain any type of form to have SSL encryption - all CMS websites have a login (which is a form), therefore a good quality SSL that isn't shared by lots of other sites is best.
We are happy to provide support if you have concerns regarding SSL certification for your website, so do get in contact if you would like any advice. (We can only add an SSL certificate to a website we host).
A load of code-swallop?
We bet hardly any of your visitors (or even you!) spend much time looking at the code that’s involved in creating a website. And why would you? In fact, people most likely to look at the code, other than your web designer are hackers which is why we strongly recommend a site is built based on custom code.
Custom code is more secure than open source code. Open Source is a website code that is created by anyone (from anywhere in the world) and then shared by millions of people (including not so friendly hackers!).
When selecting a web designer, ask them how they will design and build the site and make sure that it is secure. If you do opt for open source, like WordPress, Drupal, Magento or WooCommerce then it’s important to make sure that it’s secure by ensuring software updates and fixes are implemented immediately to reduce the risk of your site being hacked (see also 'how cheap is a website').
Doing this requires continuously checking to make sure that you have the latest version of WordPress, Drupal, or whichever open source template website you’ve picked. You’ll also need to ensure that all plug-ins are updated to cope with the latest security update of your main site… phew!
Plug-ins are ‘functions’ that have been bolted on (or plugged in) to your main website. Plug-ins could include widgets for maps, forms, banner slides shows, subscribe forms, seo plug-ins, etc). That’s a lot of work and can get costly if your website designers charge for each hack-patch!
Poor security in your code and sloppy code can also affect your Google ranking so if you want to avoid your competitors leapfrogging you in Google search results then make sure your code well written by professionals and is as secure as possible!
Here is a summary of how bad code can impact your website and your business:
- Lower Google ranking and lost business
- Customer data can be hacked and harvested from hackers
- Spam content can be added to your website by hackers
- A potential crash of your website for a period of time due to SQL injections
- Website crashes
- Website is taken offline due to outside factors (this can really harm your Google listing history)
Whilst some attacks from hackers to your site can probably be quickly fixed, losing Google rankings can take time to get back to the status you were at and data breaches can be fatal. British Airways has recently received a record fine under the relatively new GDPR regulations; demonstrating how data breaches and privacy are concerns that are being taken seriously.
Even if an attack is short-lived, it can still impact your brand long term and will lead to lost enquiries during that downtime.
Beware of the snake oil salesperson
It’s easy to get bamboozled with terminology when someone is selling their services as a website designer. If what you are being told doesn’t make sense, don’t be afraid to dig deeper to understand further. Some businesses are good at SEO or making a website look attractive and whilst both of these are very important, your site also needs to be robust and secure - and compliant with legislation.
A website is a long-term asset for your business and it’s important to get it right. Make sure you work with a web designer that you trust and that understands what you are trying to achieve.
Need help from our Wiltshire-based website designers?
If you would like more information on how we make great looking, secure websites then give our web designers in Wiltshire a call today on 0845 224 5806 for a free chat. We are always happy to help!