Just like a padlock needs to be deployed well for it to be useful, an organisation benefits from the immense communication power of a website only if the website is used well.
Over the last 10 years managing websites for different organisations, I have found the following as the most common practices that hinder websites from communicating effectively.
1. A pointless homepage
Homepages of many websites do not communicate—they only make information available. A homepage that does not prompt website visitors to do something is a wasted homepage.
Remedy: On your homepage, provide enough information to get a person interested in getting involved in the work you do. For example, if you are fundraising through your website, use the homepage to ask people to make a contribution with a "Donate" button thereon.
2. Hiding most needed content
On many websites, the least needed information is easier to access than the most needed.
Remedy: Review the web analytics for your website (via the control panel), and know which content is most needed based on visits and engagement traffic. Always have the most accessed content on your website as the easiest to access.
Make it part of your home page and keep reviewing your website's traffic to keep abreast of which content is most accessed. For example, if people visit your website mostly to download certain information/files, make those available on the home page.
3. Hiding contact information
Contact information on many websites requires the website visitor to first scroll to the footer or visit the "Contact Us" page before they can access it. Visitors to your website should not have to work hard to access your organisation's contact information because your website is supposed to make it easier for people to connect and get in touch with your organisation.
Remedy: Add your organisation's contact information to your website's header. Remember, today, contact information includes links to social media accounts.
4. Expired content
Expired content on a website portrays your organisation as an incompetent organisation and reduces a person's interest in your website/organisation. For example, an online shop listing items that are out of stock or quoting outdated statistics about population size.
Remedy: Have a schedule for reviewing content on your website to keep it up-to-date. If you have invested in having a website, you must also invest in keeping the information thereon up-to-date.
5. Not optimised for mobile
Reading content off or navigating a website that is not optimised for viewing on mobile devices is cumbersome. This is because if a website is not optimised for mobile, it displays as it would on a desktop computer regardless of size of device being used to view it.
On a mobile phone, for example, everything on an un-optimised website looks so small and a website visitor needs to zoom-in in order to see anything clearly.
Remedy: Have your website optimised for viewing on mobile devices. A website optimised for mobile does not lose any content. It simply displays content better for each device.
6. Long domain name
A long domain means that intending visitors to your website have so many letters to type in the browser's URL before they can access your website. A long domain name also greatly increases the chances of someone misspelling it and hence failing to access your website.
Remedy: The domain name of your website does not have to be the full official/legal name of your organisation. For example, if the official name of your organisation is "Little Tree Nursery and Primary School", you can have "www.littletree.org" as your website's domain name. Keep it short and easy to remember.
The author is a communications expert