A few weeks ago, we featured web developer Jeffrey Cherewaty on #storchat, where he answered questions on all things web design. This week, we’ve brought him back to discuss how self-storage facilities can modernize their branding and website design to optimize visitors and increase tenants. Here is his list of the top five mistakes facility websites make:
1. Only naming your storage facility for Yellow Pages ads.
More and more people are using online search engines like Google and Yahoo, rather than pulling out their Yellow Pages book. While it may have been optimal many years ago to name your storage facility something like A1, the truth is that internet searches are greatly outpacing Yellow Pages usage. If your storage facility is only optimized for the Yellow Pages, it is likely that you’re missing out on an already huge and perpetually growing pool of customers who only use search engines.
“It’s better to have a unique name,” Jeffrey said. “Otherwise the search engine won’t differentiate you from other websites.”
Additionally, Jeffrey advised against using outdated search engine practices like keyword stuffing and trying to over-optimize content.
“Google is picky about that,” he said. “You don’t want to hurt yourself. If you’re not a search engine professional, don’t try to overthink it–just build a website. Keep it simple, and the search engines will reward you.”
2. Hiding your prices.
Some facilities may hide their prices out of fear that their competitors will see them. Jeffrey suggested showing your prices upfront, rather than trying to hide them.
“It’s imperative that your customers are able to see your prices, regardless of your reservations about competitors. The customers are most important!”
3. Having irrelevant content.
Getting the right content first is more important than trying to brand your facility. While it’s okay for your facility to have a personality, avoid using irrelevant content and graphics. Instead of pictures of bald eagles with flags in their mouths, put up a picture of your facility’s manager to connect with the customer and effectively advertise a personable and accessible atmosphere.
“Get rid of the big photos, auto-play music, and silly flash animations,” Jeffrey said. “Instead give your customers phone numbers, hours and prices, and you’re good to go.”
4. Forgetting your mobile users.
Don’t discount mobile customers–a lot of people are visiting your website on mobile phones now, so keep that audience in mind. If your website is horribly incompatible with most mobile interfaces, you risk losing a large portion of customers who may be more inclined to rent from a competing storage facility with a much more pleasing mobile layout.
“Avoid mouseovers and really wide layouts. If you’re building something from scratch, make sure it’s a flexible layout.”
5. Not hiring a professional.
“Don’t be afraid to hire a professional,” Jeffrey said. “Spending money on a quality website is a smart investment–let’s say you spend $1000, but it brings you extra customers–it’s worth it.”
Jeffrey also stressed the importance of simplicity. One of the biggest hiccups he sees on storage websites is having too many layers and complicated hierarchies of information.
“I’ve never seen a site that does this well–most of them make you click on another page to get more info. If you’re a single facility, you don’t need more than one page for your website. While multi-facility companies can benefit from separate pages for each facility, single-facility websites really only need one page to get their information across. Don’t make your users dig.”
Image courtesy of dzineblog.com