A small business website can be a tremendous asset to your business or it can be a money pit.
Sadly most small business owners don’t know the difference and end up wasting resources investing in a website design that adds no value to their business.
I’ve come across many local small business websites that suffer from basic mistakes that prevent them from seeing the kind of benefits that the internet has to offer.
I am sharing these common website design mistakes in hopes that you avoid these mistakes when you decide to launch your online presence.
Here are the Top 10 Small Business Website Mistakes By Local Businesses
1. Cool (but ineffective)Website Design
This by far is one of the costliest mistakes of local businesses.
Most business owners don’t know anything about online marketing so they think a site that is visually pleasing is important. Local web designers, who for the most part don’t really know anything about online marketing themselves also believe that a visually stunning design is important.
And it allows them to charge a much higher fee!
Here’s the deal, you are not selling “cool”, the designer is! Your website needs to be effective at a accomplishing your goal and I don’t think one of your main goals is to show how great your website looks; If it is, you probably need to reevaluate your goals!
Don’t get me wrong, your website should look nice and clean, but you should focus on making sure it is driving value for your business.
2. Including Auto Play Music/Audio
I personally hate this. So much so that I have immediately left sites because of it.
This is a pretty old tactic from the early days of the web that quickly fell out of favor. It turns out it was actually turning away visitors from the site, just the opposite of what you want. I’m amazed that websites still do this to tell you the truth.
Usually someone visits your site because they are looking for your business or something related to your business, if you have a video that explains your business or services they will play it. No need to force it on your visitor before they are ready.
But what if they never play your video… well they were not interested and forcing them to watch it is unlikely to make them interested.
The worst thing you can probably do is play random music. Unless your business is a radio station, its unlikely that I’m visiting your site to be entertained.
3. Site That Loads Slowly
As computers have gotten faster over time so have web browsers too become impatient. Gone are the days when users will site and wait while your site takes forever to load.
According to research you have between 3 – 7 seconds for your site to load before a browser will click away to another site. So having huge fancy graphics, or auto playing video/music that you think is cool could actually be hurting you more than you think. Make sure your website design doesn’t have a negative effect on your page load speed.
4. Generic Images & Wording
The purpose of images is to create a connection with your audience and to assist with your branding.
How can you brand your business with a generic image that can be found any where on the internet and expect to connect with your customers?
Many local businesses use stock images because they think it makes them seem more professional, instead it just alienates your audience.
You want to make sure that the images on your site reflect real people at your business. Even if you have to hire a professional photographer.
One of the advantages of local businesses, especially small businesses is that people can relate to them, so let your images and your website design reflect that.
5. Fancy Fonts & Too Many Fonts
There are a ton of really cool fonts out there. But using more than 2-3 on your website quickly becomes over whelming.
It just looks confusing and distracts from the content that you want the website visitor to focus on.
You may think that curly font is fancy and looks stylish, but it adds nothing to your site and makes it hard to read. Stick to basic fonts that people are familiar with and are easy to read.
6. Poor Use of Color & Contrast
Color is extremely important to your website and so is contrast. Just like fonts too much color variations can be a bad thing, so your website should use 2-3 colors consistently throughout the design.
A website without sufficient contrast will be hard to read. Your text has to stand out from the background and be easily readable by you your visitors. There are many sites out there with fancy web designs and busy backgrounds. They may look cool but the text is barely readable. So guess what, it rarely gets read.
Color and contrast are essential to your web design because they can be used to create visual interest and direct the attention of the user.
7. No Content or Stale Content
There’s a saying in online marketing; Content is King.
People very rarely browse to your website solely to find your contact information so they can pick up a phone to call you. If someone takes the time to type in your website address directly, then they want to find out something about you.
Secondly, people may not know that its you they are looking for but it will be your content that brings them to your website, where you can then convert them into customers.
I’ve come across many local sites that have no content other than a meaningless mission statement and a contact us page. Which is really a wasted opportunity. If you have someone on your page why not demonstrate your expertise, with a short article or a video clip?
Just as bad as having no content is having stale content. Nothing says you don’t care about your online audience than having old content on your site. The content on your site should be up to date and relevant to your audience.
8. Dead Links That Lead Nowhere
When a user clicks on a link that you posted that is generally a good thing, unless its a dead link. A dead link take your visitor to a place on the internet that doesn’t exist. It disappoints and probably annoys the user because they were because they were interested in the link enough to click on it.
Dead links are the worst when they’re supposed to lead to pages on your own site. If you can’t even keep up with your own content, visitors will see that as sign that you’re unorganized
9. Wall Of Text
I see many local websites with this problem. Most people hate reading in general, and a wall of text will quickly discourage them from reading your content. You could have the best content available but posting one big wall of text will ensure very few people see it.
It is a widely accepted fact that internet users consume information differently.
First, they prefer visual content over text. So Video and pictures will be more readily consumed than text. That is why social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and pinterest all feature prominent images.
Secondly, even when they do read text they only scan it. So if you post text based content on your site make it scannable by using sub heads, bullets or numberin and white space to break up the wall of text.
10. No Clear Call To Action
This is by far one of the most common mistakes on small business websites.
What do you want visitors to do when they visit your site?
Is it just read your content and then leave. If you’re not using clear calls to action than that is exactly what they will do.
It is important for you to tell your visitors exactly what action you want them to take and make sure that it is clear and easy to follow.
Avoiding these small business website design mistakes can make your website more effective at generating leads for your business, which should be one of the key goals of any small business website.