I happened to be on Facebook yesterday when an advert came up decrying the 7 worst mistakes web designers make and it pulled in my interest.

Apparently, this guy Chris Cardell has been featured on the BBC and ITV, but I have never heard of him, but I thought his credentials on the surface looked impressive, so I thought, let’s listen!

1. Firstly, he talks about the 8 second test and claims 50% of all web visitors leave a website within 8 seconds.

I believe most people understand that first impressions count and you need to engage with visitors, but I think to say 50% leave within 8 seconds is inaccurate, especially for small business websites. Over the years, we would expect to see, on average 60% of visitors who stay on the website and visit at least one other page. With some thought and invention, it can normally be increased to 75%.


2. He then goes on to add that you will not get instant sales with a website and it’s main purpose is to begin a relationship. He talks about standard conversions being 1%. He believes his methods can increase conversions to 15-20%, using a system called ‘permission marketing’ which involves offering a free incentive, in return for a subscription to a mailing list. He recommends mailing potential customers at least twice a week.

I have mixed feelings about his comments, because on one hand he makes a valid point about using a website to begin and develop relationships with customers, bringing new exciting opportunities with it. On the other hand, we all get a serious amount of SPAM on a daily basis – subscribing to more SPAM – even if it’s from a company you might do business with from time to time, won’t appeal to everyone.

It’s nice to be able to offer a free sample, information pack, brochure etc on your website and I know from experience this does increase response, but it can be done in a number of ways that don’t include visitors subscribing to another SPAM generator.

There is not a one size fits all solution to converting web visitors into enquiries, sales leads or sales purchases.


3. The next piece of advice is ‘everyone needs an online video’

To a large degree, he is absolutely correct. Every website owner can bring their offering to life through video and with products on the market like the HD Hero, which is an amazing piece of kit, it’s a very cost effective marketing tool to engage people with what your website is all about.

Making videos that brings together what your business does, the character of the people behind the website and many other aspects can be filmed and uploaded at little cost these days.

BUT, again, it’s not going to be every website owners cup of tea! It’s not going to make or break a website – that’s utter nonsense!


4. PPC – Pay per click

Chris Cardell says you must do PPC and he has spent millions of his own money over the years and he knows it works. He says SEO is dead – pay Google to appear at the top of the page for your chosen keywords. He also talks about seo companies trying to fool google into giving websites high rankings and what happens if you are caught doing things to fool google.

If I had seen the above comment, maybe six weeks ago, when Google had been running ads in such a way, it was getting very difficult to tell the difference between the organic (free) results and the paid for results, he would have had convinced me, PPC was indeed the future.

And by the way, PPC has it’s place and it can work very well for some websites and not so well for others. Again, one size solution does not fit all.

BUT, Google have made the Ads more clearer recently and people can see clearly which listings are paid for and which listings are listed on merit alone.

Also, Google likes the free, organic listings and provide an extensive list of recommendations to help website owners improve the free traffic that is to be gained from Google Search. Chris is right when he says some try to fool google and use poor methods to gain 1st page rankings, but google are closing new ‘loopholes’ every day and if they find a website doing something that really upsets them, then you can be removed from the google search index.

To say you must do PPC is – again – utterly ridiculous.

5. Email marketing

Chris Cardell says most entrepreneurs he has ever met have made their money from email marketing, not websites. In fairness, he does make some valid comments about using emails to build up relationships with clients and recommends emails twice per week.

I think email marketing has it’s place, but it’s not suitable for every business and the timing of emails needs to be properly considered for each website.

6. Facebook

Chris says ‘likes’ don’t produce any income and recommends you upload your email addresses to the social media platform and target potential customers at the fraction of the price of normal advertising.

On the basis you can set a sensible budget, which you can afford to write off, it is worth running a small test between 1 – 4 weeks, just as long as you can track conversions properly, otherwise, think long and hard before doing it.

Facebook for website owners is a little bit like the video scenario, it’s a free tool designed to help you ‘show’ people what you are really all about, including what you are great at (example pics of your work) what you are like as people (i.e. what you get up to at work, how you develop new ideas, new products, services, what you do in your spare time) You can also use facebook to engage opinions, which can be very helpful when you are trying to develop website branding, layouts, products and services. There is a great many ways to use Facebook, you just need to approach it in a creative and constructive way.

7. Importance of landing pages

Chris says every page (apart from home page) should have one single purpose.

I would agree that makes sense and there is many advantages to taking this approach.


Overall: Chris Cardell’s video is compelling to watch, but ultimately, he is trying to sell you his way of making your website/s a success. I am also guessing you will need to subscribe to his email marketing campaigns and there is bound to be products he is selling to ‘help’ you succeed.

With websites, the internet and online business still growing, it’s obviously important to keep an open mind, try new things and always be on the lookout for new and emerging opportunities, but proceed with the utmost of caution and micro test first before taking on bigger financial committments.