If your website is looking woeful these days, and it’s not getting the results you’d hoped for, your predicament is all too common. Whether you run a traditional “Main Street” retail business or something more high-tech, there are moves you should make when it comes to small business web design to assure online success.
Small business is now in its second web-influenced decade, and the landscape is changing. Customers have become vastly more internet savvy than they were just a few years ago, and businesses that don’t keep up with higher levels of web sophistication risk being left behind.
Simpler is better
But don’t confuse sophistication with complexity. Today, the “less is more” axiom applies and often spells the difference between a website design that delivers for your small business, and one that doesn’t.
Sites should be clean, simple and intuitive, which means visitors should be able to easily see how to get what they need.
A successful site must first pass muster on “usability.” It boils down to this: How quickly and easily can someone log onto your site and either find what they need or complete a particular task with the results they expect? If the answer is “not very,” you’ve got a problem.
And you may not want to delay fixing it either. E-commerce sales — a.k.a. sales over the internet — are increasing rapidly and could double, triple or more over the next five years.
Here are eight common small business web design mistakes, and what you can do about them.
Common web design mistakes and how to avoid them
Mistake #1 : Allowing your site to be a secondary concern. Site neglect is rampant in small business. Solution: Make your website a top priority in your daily operations.
Mistake #2 : Allowing stale or (worse) outdated information to remain on the site. Solution: If your products, services, prices, location, hours, contact information, marketing messages - or anything else - have changed, make the updates immediately. Customers will notice, and your credibility suffers.
Mistake #3 : Hard to find contact information. Solution: Many customers visit small business websites solely to find an address or phone number. Place your contact information in a prominent location.
Mistake #4 : Failing to maintain links. Solution: Many small business sites include links to other sites as a service to customers who may be seeking related information. But these links must be checked regularly for problems or changes. Broken links frustrate customers, and they will likely blame you.
Mistake #5 : Flashing images, scrolling text and blinking buttons. These things may have seemed clever and high-tech when first introduced, but now they are simply annoying. Solution: Dump them in favor of graphics that enhance your site usability.
Mistake #6 : Using counterproductive tech and settings. This mistake can take many forms. Disabling the “back” button, for example, was once considered a way to keep visitors on your site. But at best it’s another annoyance to avoid. Likewise a site that constantly opens new browser windows or uses a hodgepodge of fonts, colors and styles. Solution: Avoid the temptation of cute bells and whistles in favor of (dare we say it again?) - usability. Make a fast-loading website a top priority.
Mistake #7 : Dead-end pages. Solution: Every page on your website should have a link back to your main page.
Mistake #8 : Not tracking your site activity. Don’t be in the dark about what’s happening on your site. Solution: Web analytic tools can point to areas that need improvement.
Our Bottom Line:
Improving the performance of your website is often a simple matter of avoiding the mistakes that other entrepreneurs have made. Be sure to review your site regularly for miscues. Pay close to attention to your small business' web design and usability, it's a business requirement these days.
© 2005 BizBest Media Corp.