In our experience, we have found these 5 design mistakes are prevalent in every scenario where a company developed a website themselves in-house.
A sharp, active online presence is essential for any small business looking to grow in 2019 and beyond. If customers can’t find you, they can’t do business with you. They can’t tell their friends to work with you, either. That solid online presence begins with a clean, responsive and welcoming website – one that is easy to navigate and puts your brand and unique value front and center.
A host of technical and creative factors go into creating it, too. If these essentials aren’t properly executed during the design phase, your visitor’s experience can be quickly ruined.
Here are the 5 Key Mistakes That Small Businesses make when building their website, and tips to help you avoid them.
#1 Lack Of Information Or Confusing Copy
Nothing turns off customers – or leaves them as confused – as quickly not being able to find the info they need to know about your company. Vague, unprecise language will leave them guessing if they’ve even made it to the right site, and scratching their heads trying to figure out what it is you even do.
Even worse, some small business sites don’t offer any information about the business at all. What kind of product or service do you offer? Whom do you offer it to? How can customers get in touch with you and get the benefits of your service?
Having clear answers to these questions - on your own end and spelled out on the site - will make your prospects’ days much easier.
#2 Slow Site Load Times
The Internet is blazing fast these days. And 5G is on the way. Why does your website load like you’re running dial-up?
You’ve probably read about how our attention spans are constantly shrinking, which means customers are constantly getting more and more impatient. If your site takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, you risk losing them as they click back and search for a faster-loading competitor.
Think that’s crazy? Try visiting some slow websites you’ll probably find you’re more impatient than you think.
To keep page speeds moving at hyperspeed, make sure you’re using the latest version of your content management system, that all updates are installed, and you’ve optimized all images. Make sure it’s optimized for mobile, too.
This can mean putting a bold, clear CTA front and center on the landing page. It can also simply mean making your unique value proposition front and center, so customers are immediately motivated to work with you.
#3 Bad, Boring Call-To-Action (CTA)
If you want prospects to turn into customers, you need them to act – whether that’s calling you or buying your product. If they don’t act, you don’t get business.
Thus, it’s essential that your CTA is crafted to tell visitors exactly what you want them to do – and inspires them to do it!
Your CTA should be clear enough that your prospects know what benefit they’re getting from acting; try sticking the benefit (e.g. Get More Customers!) into the CTA. But it should be catchy and concise, too – with a bit of your brand’s personality on display. And make sure it’s front and center and easy to find.
#4 Trying To Do Too Much/ Too Much Flash, Not Enough Function
In what is the opposite of lacking actionable info, many small business sites simply try to do too much. Essential info about your services and a CTA should be displayed prominently, but everything else takes a backseat.
If the front page has so much text and so many pictures, that prospects don’t know exactly what you do within just a few seconds of landing on the page…it’s too confusing.
Many people are concerned about “The Fold” – where the bottom part of the page is cut off on the screen. So they try to cram as much as possible above this imaginary line, in hopes that doing so means customers won’t miss any important info.
But in reality, The Fold simply isn’t the game-changing thing people seem to think it is. A clean, simple layout with lots of white space will beat a crowded one every time, even if the customer has to do some digging to figure it all out.
The same goes for flashy sites with lots of graphics, videos and fancy menus. Don’t get us wrong. Beautiful, creative, image- or video-heavy websites are great when the business calls for it. And they are tons of fun to look at. But if the design is cluttered and gratuitous, and the vital business info and CTA aren’t front-and-center, visitor engagement and prospect conversion will suffer.
#5 Inaccurate, Out-of-Date Hours of Operation
Have you ever driven across town to a local business only to find you missed the closing time by 30 minutes – even when the website said it was open for another hour? It’s frustrating and inconvenient but happens more than you might think. It’s also a really easy way to lose customers.
Unfortunately, many small business websites aren’t frequently maintained, and this means store or business hours are often not up-to-date. Oftentimes, small businesses don’t post when they take lunch or close for a holiday, and this leaves customers confused when they show up in the middle of the day and no one is there.
If you have a regular lunch schedule or times you close your business for any reason, be sure to keep the site updated and current with that info.