9 mistakes small-business owners make with their website

Having a website is no longer good enough, every other business is right up there with you.

Seriously.

There’s website builders a plenty, and agencies are making it cheaper and cheaper to get even custom-built websites. Running a website business is getting more and more competitive, but this is true for every small business.

The competition is advancing. And you need to keep up.

Today, we’re going to cover some of the most common mistakes I see when it comes to websites. Some of these are painfully obvious, other’s not so much. But they all create problems for entrepreneurs.

Make these mistakes, and you’ll lose sales.

If you’re hoping to build a successful business, or create new revenue channels from being online, pay attention now. Here’s what you need to avoid if you want to succeed online.

1. You don’t actually have a website

On the off-chance you’ve still not got your website built, this needs to be first. Go do it.

These days the yellow pages don’t exist. Perhaps you’ll get a referral or two through word of mouth, or old-school tactics like a mail drop, but the primary way customers look for products is Google. And guess what. Without a website, you’ve got no hope of attracting them. You may as well start advertising for your competition while you’re at it because no website is almost as bad.

2. Your website looks like it was designed in 1995

If it was, great. For 1995 I’m sure it looked amazing. But the downside is a website this old is not going to help you today.

Design trends change. You do not want any potential customers thinking you’re behind the times or using outdated technology and solutions. It’ll turn them off. But if you’ve not updated your website in the last 20 years, that’s exactly the impression you’re giving. It’s time for a refresh.

3. You’ve never updated your content

This one isn’t as critical as a poor design, but it still leaves a bad impression.

Customers are landing on your website to get the latest information. They want to know about your new products, what’s happening in your industry, and what sets your business apart from everyone else. If you’ve never updated your products, or the last time you blogged was back in 2012 it gives the impression you simply don’t care about your website. Some people may even think you’ve gone out of business. My advice is to put up a new blog post, at least once a month.

4. You’re missing the call to action

Without guidance, your website visitors are going to get lost and then leave.

Sit down and actually think about what you want a customer to do once they land on your website. Are you pushing for a quick sale or do your products require a little explanation. Are you trying to get them to call for a booking, or to subscribe to your email list. Once you know what you want them to do, use call-to-action buttons to give visitors a clear path to follow, right to check out.

5. You’ve not thought about the user experience

This is getting more and more important because a good user experience will set your business apart from the competition.

There are two critical pieces to the user experience puzzle. In addition to having a well-designed site that guides visitors exactly where you want them, you need speed and responsiveness. More and more people rely on their smartphones to get online, so your website needs to load fast. It’s also got to work across devices, as no one likes having to pinch and zoom to navigate around.

6. You’ve got too many annoying things

In a similar line to the user experience, one key rule I like to follow when designing a website is to not be annoying.

Auto-play anything is one of my biggest pet hates. Never, ever, start broadcasting sounds or videos without the user’s permission. And by permission, that means if I click to watch your explainer video, that’s fine. Just don’t force me to watch it, or to furiously navigate around trying to find “PAUSE.” This is especially important if you’re in a B2B industry and potential customers will be browsing your website from the office. They will close your tab as soon as it starts playing.

7. It’s obviously a do-it-yourself job

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of great website builders out there. But you’ve got to make sure the website you create matches your brand and actually “works.”

Remember, your website is normally the first thing a potential customer see’s when they’re looking to buy from you. If this first impression is not good, for whatever reason, it’s bad for business. Perhaps the potential customer will make assumptions about your business, and decide not to buy. I have nothing against making your own website, but follow basic design rules and keep it simple. You’ve got to ensure the end result is one you’re proud of.

8. You missed the mark with your audience

Remember that your website needs to be a sales tool. The only job it needs to fulfill is to help a potential customer make the decision to buy.

To get this right, you’ve got to understand your ideal customer. Then you’ve got to design your website so it speaks to them. In B2B a more professional touch would be needed, as opposed to a sports bar that’s looking to reach football fans. Keep your audience in mind as you build your website.

9. You forgot to include your contact details

You’d be surprised just how many websites are missing contact information. Do not do this. You want it to be as easy as possible for a customer to buy from you.

Of course, most businesses who hide their details are doing it so you have to reach out to their via their “official support” channels. But that’s not going to work for you. As a small business owner, you can’t risk alienating even one potential customer. So put your business phone number on every page. I also recommend linking out to your social media profiles and include a support email. On our website, we also use live chat, Line, and Skype as alternatives, so no matter how a particular customer wants to get in touch, they’ve got a solution.

These nine mistakes are some of the most common problems we see when we upgrade a customer’s website. The good news, though, is that they can be fixed easily with a little bit of thought, especially if you’re going through a redesign of your site. Just don’t continue making these mistakes, or you’re going to be missing out on business.

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