8 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make
Today, websites act as hubs for companies of all shapes and sizes. But as a small business, your website is the most crucial element of your marketing and branding efforts. One flaw may turn away a valuable potential customer.
While it’s important to make it easy for potential customers to find your company’s website, you also want to ensure you’re meeting their needs in terms of the overall user experience, content, and appearance. A poorly designed website could cost you thousands of dollars upfront, but even more concerning is the loss of potential revenue you may experience from its poor design and function.
The website development process is certainly tedious, but avoiding common Web design mistakes will help your bottom line flourish in the long run. Here are a few mistakes you might be making:
1. You’ve overlooked your target audience.
It’s easy to overlook your target market when you’re rushing to get your website ready to go live. But before your website can be successful, you must first carefully research your target audience in the specific market you’re trying to reach. Use your research as a foundation for the Web design process.
If you’re looking to reach women in the 21 to 30 age range, consider youthful color schemes and imagery, and cater to mobile website compatibility. As for an older target market, focus on larger font sizes and simplifying the user experience to help with faster navigation. Many Web design questions are more easily answered through target audience research.
And no, targeting everyone isn’t an option. Attempting to please the masses might leave you pleasing no one. It’s best to figure out your most frequent users and focus on creating the best possible experience for them.
2. You’ve gone overboard with the design.
A flashy design isn’t an effective marketing strategy for your website. In fact, over-designing your website — and ending up with a busy-looking product — will ensure your potential customers spend very little time on it. Avoid going overboard with your Web design elements and instead, focus on attracting users. Yes, you can do this with a simplistically designed website! Make their time spent on your website as enjoyable as possible through easy navigation.
Something to remember: When a visitor comes to your website, they probably already know what they want to get out of it. If they can’t figure out what they want to do next in just three seconds, you might need send your website back to the drawing board.
3. You’re missing a clear call to action.
A potential customer has come across your website. What do you want them to do once they hit your homepage? Show them the next step, which may be buying your product, subscribing to your newsletter, or contacting you.
Ensure your content answers your user’s question of “What’s next?” so that you can help them navigate accordingly. The most effective call-to-action takes place immediately on the homepage or in a centralized point on every page on your website.
4. You either went over budget or paid too little.
I’ve come across far too many small businesses who ended up with a horrible website after hiring a cheap designer. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also encountered far too many companies who shot for the stars by attempting to hire an expensive agency famed for working with big brands, only to find out the agency doesn’t have the skills to help an ROI-focused small business.
When it comes to launching a new website or redeveloping your current one, do your research. Choosing the right Web marketing agency could make or break your website. It’s also best to keep in mind that being too money-focused can skew the whole process in the wrong direction.
5. Your content is stale.
An enticing and effective website must contain the latest information about your products, services, and company as a whole. If your website is lacking a fresh feel in terms of content, your customer may assume you’re not in business any longer–or worse, you’re not innovative enough to get ahead of the competition.
For appealing content, ensure your addressing the needs of both your current and potential customers. Update frequently, especially with company updates, news, and trends. If you have a blog on your website, consider updating it at least once a week to help drive visitors to your website and improve your search engine optimization.
6. You decided to DIY.
Web design is better left to the pros. While a DIY initiative may seem necessary to accommodate your small budget, you’re probably not going to do your small business justice on the Web. Your website will be the first chance many of your customers have to interact with your brand; presenting a DIY experience may turn them away.
7. Your website lacks mobile compatibility.
Seventy-five percent of smartphone Internet users prefer a mobile-friendly site, but 96 percent say they’ve encountered sites that were not designed for mobile devices. Do your research to find out the percentage of your visitors currently using mobile devices to access your site. If you’ve got a high number, consider developing a separate mobile version of your website or an app. For a low number, just make sure your website is readable on smartphones, but avoid investing in a mobile version.
8. Your social media buttons are broken.
There’s nothing more frustrating than attempting to click through to a social page and finding a broken or incorrect link instead. This may leave your customers wondering what’s going on with your website. Not to mention, you also missed out on a chance for your customers to learn more about your company on a social level and potentially follow or like your pages. Regularly check to make sure your social buttons are installed correctly and leading visitors to the correct destination.
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to keeping your business afloat. Don’t allow your customer to make assumptions about your business because of a poorly designed website.
What are some common Web design mistakes you’ve encountered?
Image courtesy of Nina Matthews;Flickr
About Ilya Pozin:
Founder of Ciplex. Columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn. Gadget lover, investor, mentor, husband, father, and ’30 Under 30′ entrepreneur. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!