As a Small business, getting your businesses web design to work for you is vital, a simple process often over complicated by those looking to attach every bell and whistle you can think of. Keep it simple, keep it focused and make it sell your product or service. At a time when businesses online are thriving and likely to keep growing if your business isn’t visible then you are already miles behind your competition. There are some common mistakes made in Small business web design when business head down the DIY route. Lets take a look at some of them :
1. The importance of knowing your market!
One of the most common mistakes among small businesses is not ignoring marketing research, knowing your product or service is commercially viable is one thing, but not understanding how who your market is detrimental. Is the experience you give your visitors better than what your competitors provide? Unless you know your target market how can you understand their characteristics?
It is important to know information such as:-
- Study your competitors, what they do well and how they do it.
- Understand your strong points
- Allocate your time and cost to maximise chances of ROI
- Design your communications plan to maximize your advantages
- What age group your product or service attract, does your website represent that focus?
- Location – Is your website focused to the right locale, Local business, national or international ?
- Devices used to view website, is the user experience equally as good on all devices
Knowing your niche and whom your audience can be a game changer and there are some big differences, if your product/service is targetted towards a professional business to business audience, such as manufacturing, engineering etc. You will likely find the usage of desktop computers being prominent in device usage, where as a local Nail Salon would have the complete opposite with the majority of visitors searching and browsing via a mobile or tablet. This information allows you to really focus and sell to your potential future clients.
Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers:-
- Does your site answer their questions?
- Is the most important content visible immediately?
- What makes you different from the competition?
- Where are the calls to action?
We know that customers have an approximate three second timespan when they land on your site. Therefore, if the you are not selling to them the instant they land its possible you’ve already lost them to a competitor. You need to make yourself invaluable to a customer as soon as they find you!
2.Your Website Is Way Too Confusing: Simplify Your Website
There is always a temptation to make your website design as eye-catching as possible, you would be surprised as to how easy it is to make a confusing website, as a posed to how difficult it is to making something simple, clean and effective.
Be honest with yourself:-
- Is your site too busy?
- Does it lack focus?
- Does the website load in an acceptable time ( 53% of users start to leave if they are made to wait longer than 3 seconds)
- Can you easily navigate our site?
- Is it immediately obvious what services/products you offer?
Keep it simple, Keep it stupid proof.
We have all visited websites where we remember the eye-catching design and the flashy graphics, but do you remember what the site was about and did you instantly know where you needed to go to find what you are looking for. When looking at small business web design the focus must be on your business subject matter. The site needs to look professional but not too flashy, easy to navigate and containing all the relevant information a customer might look for.
There are always exceptions to the rule, for example visitors to a graphics based website may expect an eye-catching design. However, if you are selling a service or a product it is essential to keep it as simple as possible.
3. How do you write a call to action?
Such is the competition in the online arena that customers need you to take them by the hand and show them what to do. In marketing, your call to action is the part of your website that tells your visitor what they should be doing and where you want them to go, If your site has no immediate call to action then you may well lose a customer.
You have a new visitor, eager to buy, now hook them. It’s all about being clear and concise with your CTA :-
- Make sure your call to action buttons are highly visible
- Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm
- Show them where to go for more information, give them a reason to want to perform the action
- Make them feel like they will miss out if they don’t do it
- Be creative, think outside of the box
- Take them through the process from start to finish
- Build up trust and they will return
Many small business website designs are structured to grab the attention of visitors but contain no call to action and no direction. Treat every customer as though they need educating on the services and products rather than considering, maybe the reason the visitor has landed on your website is because they already know what they want and they just want you to “sell it to them” , they just need that nudge and want to be sold to.
4. Value for money with small business web design
With Small business web design there is a wealth of different options for a small business to take, it’s an industry which could be described as “horses for courses”. Therefore, if you have a relatively small budget it becomes hard to weigh up the best route for short and long term. As a consequence, when looking for a web design company you should:-
- Match cost of services with your budget
- Check customer feedback
- See it as an investment as opposed to an expense
- Check out your competitors to see which designs work best
- Word-of-mouth is a powerful concept
- Request examples of previous customer work
- Discuss a reasonable timescale remembering that time is money
It is not easy finding a balance you are happy with, don’t be afraid to give a company your ideal budget limits, it’s not about someone wanting you to spend as much as you can afford, it takes assumption out of the process, it will allow a web designer or marketer the ability to tailor the best possible outcome within your budget without having any guess work. As your business grows, keep on top of your website, it is your online reputation and so you may wish to give it a refresh every couple of years to keep up with the latest practices.
5. What to Do with Your Old Content
There is nothing worse than landing on a website which has out of date content. It is vital your website contains the accurate information about your services and products and the information provide, whether that be via blog posts or FAQ pages, things can go stale and require updating from time to time. While blogs are a useful way of updating customers, they need a constant flow of fresh content, even that content needs reviewing on a yearly basis, making sure you are providing value to your readers and ensuring you are not misleading with outdated facts and figures :-
- Avoid filler posts, make the most of a topic and make it better than other sites offering the same info.
- Brand image: No second chances, if your first impression on a visitor is outdated information, you’ll loose credibility instantly.
- Liability: Depending on the business you are in, outdated information could pose legal or financial liability.
- SEO: Old, outdated and irrelevant and “thin” content could be hindering your Search engine optimisation efforts. If it had no real value to your visitor then it should be removed and appropirate redirects put in place. Search engines don’t like poor quality content and having it on your site may actually be harming your chances of competing.
- Loss of revenue and increased bounce rates: Old contents may still be getting traffic. Recycle the old content, update it and make it relevant, chances are you could increase revenue, traffic and brand awareness by doing so
- Choose a schedule and stick to it, customers like routine, if you’ve got them hooked, don’t let them down.
- Content Style: Use lists, images and real life examples to break up constant text
- Above all, ensure quality over quantity at all times
Make sure your content displays accurate published or “Modified/updated” dates, indicating to both users and search engines that the content has changed, It provides you a platform to promote that content all over again and reap the rewards year on year, this is particular effective with season and event based marketing.
6. Remember, you can’t do everything
Small business web design is an enormous industry, as a consequence there is a raft of information available online. This creates a temptation to reduce expenditure and paves way for the desire to cut corners and take easy options. Unfortunately this is to all intents and purposes a false economy.
What you may save hiring a web design services and the expertise of someone in the industry ( which is invaluable ) you risk in revenue, time and potential of higher future costs. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to condemn yourself/business before its started, If a website can’t be found because of its nasty architecture and lack of sensible structure, then what’s the point in having it at all.
Don’t be tempted take the plunge with a free “website builder” or DIY solution, many can instantly give the customer/visitor the impression that you don’t value your own product or service, so why should anyone else.
You should consider:-
- Buy-in services you are not able to provide or do not understand fully
- Time is money, the professionals are much quicker, effective and will apply best practice
- Doing everything yourself is a false economy
- If your business grows, consider taking on in-house staff to alleviate remote or outsourced tasks.
- Focus your attention on your areas of expertise.
While you may know how to change a car tyre, you wouldn’t attempt to try and get your car through an MOT.
In any business sector you get what you pay for but above all it is vital you get value for money. If you decide against the DIY route or would like professional expert advice, feel free to get in touch.