The Digital Glue Podcast

EP: 96 - 7 Ugly Truths A Pretty Website Can't Hide

January 17, 2023 Episode 96
The Digital Glue Podcast
EP: 96 - 7 Ugly Truths A Pretty Website Can't Hide
Show Notes Transcript

“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.”


Welcome to Episode 96: 7 Ugly Truths A Pretty Website Can't Hide

Websites can have many functions and are typically designed around a particular topic or purpose. Website design is also a collaborative effort with the main goal being a finished product that will effectively communicate a specific message and create productive interactions with the intended target audience. Think of things this way … your website is the center of your digital eco-system, like a brick-and-mortar location, the experience matters once a customer enters, just as much as the perception they have of you before they walk through the door.

To have a better understanding of all the parts and puzzles pieces that go along with having one -- and one that’s done right here's what we will be untangling in this episode ... 

  • 6 key concepts and elements you should consider
  • 6 signs your website needs work
  • The first 5 things folks see when they first land on your site
  • Bad websites = bad business
  • VU’s ultimate website launch checklist

Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!

Let’s start simple!

Websites can have many functions and are typically designed around a particular topic or purpose. Website design is also a collaborative effort with the main goal being a finished product that will effectively communicate a specific message and create productive interactions with the intended target audience. 

To have a better understanding, let’s break down some of the key concepts and elements you should be considering, whether building a site for the first time, or a refreshing, rebranded one …

    You honestly cannot afford to overlook the benefits of having your business in the virtual world. If you go against the grain and decide not to create one for your business, you are giving the upper hand to your competitors who do have an online presence.

    Your website must have considerations around many factors such as compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) alongside text equivalents for every image, forms with descriptive tags, not using overly bright or neon colours for main text areas, not using navigation buttons with text as the image and sufficient anchor text, title and heading on complex pages. 

    As business owners, we need to do our part in making sure our website is accessible to everyone. It’s the right thing to do.

    When developing your website, it is very important that the end user employs a wide variety of browsers and devices. You should consider using a website theme that is responsive to all devices so that no matter how the user is viewing your information it is clear and concise. This way they don’t have to scroll right-left-up-down to find what they are looking for. Chances are if they have to do that, they will just become frustrated and look somewhere else.

    Your company’s brand should be placed aesthetically throughout your web pages. This will provide a seamless connection to all your other digital presences. It will also help your users know that they are in “your house” no matter which platform they are viewing your company information through. When done properly, your branding will help users remember you. 
    If you’re unsure on the branding end of things … Feel free to refer to some of our previous Digital Glue episodes or VU blog posts as they should help clear things up a bit more. Or feel free to reach out to us via email or in the DMs.

    The most important element of any website is the content. Yes, you do need a catchy domain name, an eye-popping logo, fun colours, good and clear font choices, and amazing graphics -- but without good content you site will be lacking. That being said, keep these tips in mind …

    - Use relevant useful content and make regular updates.

    - Showcase variety across your pages with images, infographics, text, hyperlinks, videos, audio, (etc.) … whatever the heck ever.

    - Communicate in the language of your intended target audience.

    - Proper usages of spelling and grammar. I really cannot stress this one enough!

    This is equally as important as going beyond those bells and whistles!

    Your website should have ease of use when it comes down to navigation. Don’t make your users hunt for the information they’re wanting from you. Make it clear from the start and keep things consistent.

    Another huge important consideration is to make sure you do not have any broken links. For you WordPress lovers like me out there, a great way to avoid this is to install the Broken Link Checker plugin. Tried, tested and TRUE! 

So, now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s the low-down of 6 Signs Your Website Needs Work …  

Over the last who knows how many years, you’ve probably spent a heck of a lot of time and money on your website. You’re feel it is starting to look a little rusty …

You tweaked a bit of copy, updated a few images, and added a few new plug-ins and widgets to spruce things up hoping it would solve the problem. But it still doesn’t look like all those awesome websites out there. So, you then took some time to rewrite some of your content and upgraded almost every image throughout your site. Perhaps even added some freshly original social media icons and feeds -- but something is still not right. So, once again you dive in and increased some font sizes to accommodate individuals with larger screens, but you now have all this extra white space on the sides and when viewing on a mobile device, things are just not functioning properly …

Your readership is down by a long shot and your website is feeling like a tank! You just want to propel your website into the modern mobile age, but things aren’t panning out that way. You think to yourself … what could be the problem?

But the question you should be asking is … Have you considered a redesign?

The problem is more than likely that you’re not forcing your true authentic self and style into your site. And that it may also be that you are hanging onto your old, out-of-date website like it’s your favourite worn out pair of shoes. 

Well, it’s time to throw out those shoes and upgrade to a new pair!

Here are a small handful of tell-tale signs that your website needs work … some of which are repetitive to things we share earlier on in this episode.

    Your website not only needs to function beautifully on a laptop or desktop computer, but it also needs to work well on mobile and tablet devices. More people nowadays use their phones to find your website and if it is not mobile friendly, your visitors will not be able to read your text or navigate easily thus resulting them to move on. 


    People browsing the internet have notoriously short attention spans and at best -- only stay on a specific page for a few seconds before moving on. 

    Your visitors need to be able to find what they want, and fast! And they should know within a few seconds of landing on your site, what your business is about, what they can expect from you, and how to get it.

    Sometimes the name of your business makes this apparent, but if not, your homepage should have a simple statement near the top of the page that draws the eye. Don't leave this to just your logo or a business-related image. 

    Another key element here is your navigation. It should follow standard conventions so that when visitors cruise through your site they can do so effortlessly. Place navigation links along the top of each page. 

    You may also consider adding them to the side bar to some carefully selected pages to help you visitors know exactly where you want them to do. With logical navigation you will then leave no room for drive-by’s and dropouts -- as this will keep your visitors enticed and engaged longer. 

    Remember, you only have a short window of time to get your visitors to engage so make it easy for them to find what they want.

    Your front end is just as important as your back end. Text is boring. Especially if you have a lot of it. So, instead, keep your visitors engaged with compelling images that will help build an emotional bond between them and your mission and vision of their visit. And try to add just enough text to tell your story but keep it short and sweet. 

    Now back to those images … if you know your photos are quite old or your using clipart and copyright search engine stock photos this is going to cause you a lot of problems in the long run. It’s time to REFRESH! Try including images that tell your story and are visually stimulating. This means no blurry, pixelated, overexposed, underexposed photos allowed. LIKE EVER!!! And I cannot stress this enough … NO CLIPART! 

    An unprotected website is not only a security risk for you but also to your visitors. It allows for the spread and escalation of malware, attacks on other websites, and even attacks on infrastructure. Your website is your brand and often your first contact with customers. If it is not secure those relationships can be easily compromised. A single breach could be a death-knell for a small business. No industry is immune, and hacking is not just about stealing data. Hackers want to create watering holes where they can hide malware to spread the malware to any visitors to your site. 

    To dig deeper, you may have heard the terms “SSL” or “SSL Certificate” used interchangeably with HTTPS. For the most part, these are the same. 

    An SSL certificate is the product that you are purchasing and installing on your server and HTTPS is the result of having that certificate on your server. HTTPS protects your visitor’s information as well as your information from all the dirty hackers out there. It keeps everything safe and being more secure is simply a better option for everyone.

    The internet is truly a cluttered place. And anyone doing business in the virtual world knows how crucial it is for people to be able to find your website. In reality, search engines are the vehicles that drive potential visitors to your website. If your URL shows up way down the list of results, the chance of them finding your site is remote. 
    To get search engine traffic, your webpages should use keywords in the content, image descriptors as well as in their titles. The URL of every page should contain legible words, some of which are keywords.

    People today want everything at their fingertips. If your visitors cannot easily navigate your website, then they will simply find another site that better suits their needs. No matter how you look at it, website maintenance will be an ongoing project -- and using your analytics will help you determine how many users are visiting your site, on which pages, for how long, and even where they are from. Having this information will help you better determine where your website needs improvement to convert more traffic.

Okay, so we’ve mustered through a heck of a lot of imperative information today (#SorryNotSorry), so let’s switch gears to … the first 5 things folks see when they first land on your site. 

Ignoring your site visitors’ needs and wants is dangerous for your website (and your business). It can destroy your reputation quickly. But don't fret, here is a list of the top 5 things your visitor sees when they land on your website. This short list will help you sort through what I like to call "next steps". 


From a design standpoint, the “perfect” logo is simple in form but enough detail to convey the owner’s intended message. It is practical and appropriate yet distinctive. Truthfully, it really boils down to two things: an amazing concept and phenomenal execution! This also includes your branding. Both need to become a part of every single person’s day-to-day life because everything we as consumers touch and see is a brand. That is why it is so very important that your brand stands out and needs to be memorable in every way possible. And not hidden in some back corner! 


Increasing your social following will help increase the number of eyes (and ears) on your website which means visitors will more likely clock back on a regular basis. You want people to engage in both areas so make sure your buttons are in a consistent, conventional place where visitors can easily find them. And, in more than one place. 


If you want your website to be successful, your navigation is very important as this is what enables your visitors to move around your website to find what they’re looking for. Hassle free is the key here! 
 You want to prevent your visitors from visiting your competitors’ sites and have them always coming back to yours for more. So, please, keep your website’s navigation simple, consistent, and easy to use. 

And don’t overload with extra unnecessary pages. 


Your visitors should be able to find how to get in touch with you easily and in more than one place on your site. Which we feel should be located in a common spot besides your actual “contact” page – which could be in the footer of your site or as call-to-actions on an array of pages. At bare minimum, you should include your email address, phone number and socials. 

And last on this list …


You want to encourage your visitors to hit up certain areas of your website depending on what you’re looking to have them engage in. For example, you may have an important lead magnet, or your blog may be the heart of your marketing and content strategy. You will want to encourage your visitors to view these, download them or even subscribe to it so depending on whatever your “highlight” area is, you will want it showcased on your main page. 

And well, there you have it … now onto Bad Websites = Bad Business!

If your website is looking like it just popped out of the 90s with the music that plays and it’s not at all mobile-friendly, please know you are not alone. We here at VU rescue these types of websites regularly and quite frankly give them facelifts on a monthly basis, but keep in mind that your “bad website” equals bad business. 

A bad website, in my eyes, lacks functionality and has a poor user experience.

As user’s visit your website, you miss out on the opportunity to build a trustworthy experience for them as they interact with your site. Especially if you’re solely a virtual business -- your website is the front door. And if not done properly, you are driving dream customers away and leaving money on the table.

Think of things this way … your website is the center of your digital eco-system, like a brick-and-mortar location, the experience matters once a customer enters, just as much as the perception they have of you before they walk through the door.

So, to help with the planning or re-planning stages of your website, with also keeping EVERYTHING else we talked about today top of mind, this next section is what we like to consider the Ultimate Website Launch Checklist …

Having a pre-launch checklist will help you get things done quicker and more efficiently all the while delivering the results you’re wanting and needing. 

In reality, this list is all about the little things. But that’s what website design is truly all about. Quality which is in the details. This checklist will cover the main hub of items you need to check off your to-do list before launching (or re-launching) your site into the virtual world. 

So, stop worrying about the what ifs as this last section is your guide from start to launch and making your website project more stress-free than you could have ever imagined! Because launch day should be a day of celebration …!

My suggestion would be to print the transcript of this episode off to use as a guide as you go through each item and striking each one off as you complete it – and of course giving yourself a pat on the back in preparation for your launch happy dance. 

With the first section being … 


  • Fill your placeholder text with the final content. Forgotten sections of Lorem Ipsum is not beneficial to anyone. This includes the copyright date in the footer.
  • Double and triple check your text. And when you’re done … check again!
  • Format all content. Avoid big blocks and orphan text. Make your headings POP!
  • Replace all placeholder images with your branded ones (or copyright-free stock that suits your brand’s voice). And don’t forget to add SEO tags to all your images. We’ll touch base on SEO in the next section.
  • Examine all page links to make sure not even a single one is broken. Internal links should point to the right pages and external links should open in a new tab.
  • Make sure your contact details are easy to find.
  • Include call-to-actions on all necessary pages as this will guide your visitors towards desired actionables.
  • Set up a 404-error page for safety measures. Most sites come with a default page for these situations, but you should consider creating one of your own.
  • Check all downloadable files and make sure they are nicely branded, triple proofread, linked correctly, and can in fact actually be downloaded.


  • Install and configure a SEO plug-in.
  • All pages have unique page titles and include your keywords (less than 70 characters).
  • All pages include your keywords (fewer than 10 and appear in the page copy).
  • Metadata is properly in place for any social media content sharing and RSS feeds. 


  • Set-up Google Analytics and ensure you have FULL access.
  • Make sure relevant IP addresses have been excluded from your analytics tracking.  


  • Compare all approved images and artwork with the final site layout to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies (e.g. header style, fonts, formatting etc.).
  • Create and implement a favicon. This is one of the most forgotten parts of majority of the sites out there. Having a favicon makes your site look extra professional.
  • If using stock photos, make sure they are copyright-free or if purchased that they each have a license and are credited.
  • Check YOUR BRAND! This includes fonts, line height and spacing, leading, imagery, navigation and colours. Make sure all elements added match your brand as well as the style of your site. Think of them as a marriage.
  • Link up your logo within the header and ensure it links back to your main page.
  • Make sure all your images have been optimized, without compromising quality of course. This will improve the load time per page and make the visitor’s experience more pleasing if all is running quickly and smoothly.


  • Preview your site in all major browsers to check for compatibility issues.
  • Test your responsive design on all devices to ensure an optimal user experience.
  • Triple verify that all forms are functioning and submitting data properly.
  • Make sure you have your SSL in place. This is forgotten about all too often. You want your site as safe as possible and with my back-pocket tool, SSL Check, it will crawl your entire site and search for anything that may not be secure. A life saver indeed. And as an added bonus … it’s free!
  • Check to make sure all third-party items are connected to the proper accounts. Items such as social media, opt-in forms, email campaign accounts, e-commerce software (if required), image galleries, etc.

Quick side note before we move onto the next section of this checklist …
Don’t let all this functionality testing get you down. Sometimes things just plainly don’t work, and plug-ins and platforms don’t play nicely with one another. And sometimes it’s just a bad tech day! Check back in later, or even on another day, and if everything works fine then it’s a tech ghost that just can’t be explained. This isn’t a joke – it’s a real thing. Sometimes technology is unreliable, and it usually happens when we need it most (especially if time is of the essence). So, don’t beat yourself up … This too shall pass. Just breathe and work on another portion of this checklist!


This as you know is one of my absolute favourite topics in the whole wide world. Now it’s time to put together some documentation with the following particulars:

  1. Log in names and passwords for folks such as: admins, supporters, marketers, third-party accounts, etc.
  2. A quick guide of expiration dates for things such as your hosting platform, URL, SSL, site host, email host, licenses, plug-ins, etc.
  3. An SOP or mini guide for the “how-to” usage for current or future team members. 

And last but most certainly not least -- and a super short list …


  • Set up and examine your social media icons for proper functionality.
  • Implement a newsletter sign-up in all the important places.

If you’ve checked every item off this checklist so far then you’re set for a successful launch. My only last note before your final countdown is to be sure to NOT launch on a Monday or a Friday.

And with all that said inside of a longer than usual “untangling” episode …


Your happy dance moment has finally arrived as you just had a low-stress, high-confidence website launch. You’re now LIVE right across the globe! 

Well done! High-five!

It’s time to celebrate!  

Truthfully, and I know it doesn’t always feel this way, but web design does not have to be complicated. In fact, it is quite simple when you make the functionality and user experience as your first priority. Ditching your non-mobile friendly 90s design would be the first step to accomplishing this.  

If this is not something you want to do or are ready to take on, then be sure to check out our “Digital Glue” package options as they’re created with you in mind and perfect for those looking to start from scratch or wanting to upgrade their existing site! You can learn more about partnering with us at