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Top 10 ADI Website Mistakes

30 May 2012

Computer cursor and no entry sign

Having now carried out almost 50 reviews of Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) websites as part of our adiNEWS Web Doctor article, I’ve now seen it all – the good, the bad, and the utterly perplexing. I thought it might be good to share what I found: here’s my top 10 ADI  website mistakes (and how to fix them).

1. What’s it for?
Too many ADI sites launch straight into a description of the services they offer and their qualifications. While this absolutely fine, it can leave users wondering what they should do after, since it doesn’t necessarily provide any impetus. It may be obvious to you that potential students need to phone or text you to make a booking – but simply having your contact details on the page isn’t quite enough. To create a really effective ‘call to action’, combine an offer or other attention-grabbing text with a contact number or link and place it somewhere prominent.

2. Mystery shoppers
It’s no surprise that in these straightened times, everybody’s on the lookout for a bargain. Almost every ADI site I visited offered some kind of discount or block deal, but the vast majority were hidden away on a secondary page. If you’ve got an offer designed to draw students in, you’ve got to put it somewhere they can see it! Putting your offer on your homepage (preferably alongside a call to action) will ensure that it has maximum effect. 

3. War and Peace
The majority of students will primarily be looking for three pieces of information when they come to your site: your location, the cost of the lessons, and your contact details. So whatever else you choose to have on your front page, make sure those three items are clearly set out – the user shouldn’t have to rake through paragraphs and paragraphs (or lists and lists) to find what they need. By all means add extra information to distinguish yourself, but be aware that many users will balk at a page full of text.

A user shouldn’t have to rake through paragraphs and paragraphs (or lists and lists) to find what they need

4. Missing, presumed lost
Consider what a user sees when they first load up your site. How much of the important detail will they have to scroll down to see? Material not visible without scrolling is said to be ‘below the fold’ (an advertising term from the days of broadsheet newspapers) and has a much smaller chance of being seen, so it’s not the place to hide important details like special offers or your contact details. There’s a tool you can use to see how your site measures up – beware, though, it’s a bit rough and ready. Go here  and copy your URL into the box at the top.

5. Blinded by the light
Obviously you want your website to be attention-grabbing, but you also need it to be attention-holding, a much trickier proposition. As such, it pays to be careful about your use of colour and non-standard design elements. A flashing red-and-yellow advert slap-bang on the middle of the homepage will certainly grab users’ attention, but thirty seconds later they’ll be clutching their eyes and moving on to another site. If you’re going to use bright colours, be sparing, and remember that animated elements draw users’ attention – so if you’re using more than one, you stand to confuse your readers.

6. Old news
A simple point here – if you’re going to feature news or other content that had a date attached to it (including testimonials), keep it up to date! Users like fresh content – it helps them feel engaged. If a site’s content is out of date and neglected, then users are likely to think the same treatment may be applied to them. Adding social network feeds to your page is an easy way to keep things moving without expending much effort, and you’ll get more leads, to boot!

If a site’s content is out of date and neglected, then users are likely to think the same treatment may be applied to them

7. Same old, same old
Having reviewed almost 50 ADI websites, I can honestly say that a little bit of personality goes a long way. Equally, using the same text as everyone else results in no impression whatsoever. For instance, starting ‘Hello and welcome to my website’, before listing your qualifications is a non-starter. The sentence “No more cold wet mornings at the bus stop or inconvenience of relying on other ways of getting around” is also strangely prevalent, with Google finding it on almost 950 ADI sites – avoid.

8.Vanity publishing
As I said above, a little personality goes a long way: but a lot of personality can go too far. By all means include details about yourself and your teaching methods, but remember, you website is here to sell you as a driving instructor first and foremost. If you want to say more, consider creating an ‘About me’ page rather than putting your complete biography on the homepage. The same goes for  photos of yourself – a few reasonably-sized images is fine – a gallery’s worth of images of yourself on the homepage is not.

9. Little and large
More and more computers and mobile devices have very high-resolution screens these days. This means that lower-resolution photos and graphics look very fuzzy. Where you can, try to use higher-resolution images to keep things looking sharp and up to date. If you want to use very high-res images, in testimonials for example, it’s better to use smaller pictures that, when clicked, link to the larger versions. Be careful though – some images I’ve seen have been so hi-res that you can read the details on the practical exam form, an unwitting violation of the Data Protection Act!

10. Magical mystery tour
A clear menu structure is an absolute must. Most websites put them on the left hand side of the site, or at the top – putting yours elsewhere may be aesthetically pleasing, but it’ll confuse users no end. Similarly, when thinking about the order of the menu, put the more important items, such as booking and pricing on the left or at the top. Try not to have more than five or six items in the menu – if you need more, consider using sub-menus. Finally, give the items sensible names that will mean something to students – calling your courses ‘Products’, for example, is potentially confusing, and calling a menu item ‘useful information’ is useful to no one.

Of course, the best way to improve your website is to test it on unsuspecting members of the public and get their feedback. And what’s the best way to convert website traffic into paying students? Use Theory Test Pro, of course (but we would say that, wouldn’t we).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 June 2012 8:23 pm

    Thanks for the tips Gareth, will put #2 into action……tonight.
    Cheers
    Don.

  2. 20 June 2012 12:24 pm

    What a great post! Factual tips with great descriptions. You’ve highlighted a very important point in that you can’t just throw up a website and expect it to work. Will deffinitely take tips from here, thx.

  3. 25 September 2012 11:01 pm

    Great informative article. Most sites do say the same thing but writing unique and interesting content is very difficult. Maybe I should take a writing course!

    • garethpearce permalink
      26 September 2012 10:08 am

      Hi Capital – writing unique copy can be tricky, but at least having a go is orders of magnitude better than simply having the boilerplate ““No more cold wet mornings at the bus stop or inconvenience of relying on other ways of getting around” on your site. And if you’re not sure about whether to include something, remember, less is more!

    • 12 April 2013 12:45 pm

      lee

  4. 26 May 2013 12:59 am

    Striking the correct balance between being search engine friendly and appealing to viewers is no doubt difficult, however we should always write for viewers first. I believe that if we write compelling, informative content that viewers want to read then search engines will reward us. They want to return results that are of use to their viewers. This can only be a win-win situation for business owners. The difficulty of course is writing articles that are original and that will appeal to the average website visitor. No easy task.

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