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Jarrod Wright

9 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Feb 04 2013, 06:01 AM by

We’ve all had the experience. We visit a website, only to make a quick exit. Shaking our heads, we mutter, “What where they thinking?”

Your website is usually the first impression potential customers have of your business. They will check your site before stopping into your store or meeting you in person. What impression is your site making?

Here are nine mistakes small business websites often make. Make sure you aren’t committing any of these bad business blunders.

  1. No Call to Action
    You must have a call to action and you must be obvious about what you want visitors to do – place an order, download an eBook, sign up for a newsletter, etc. In a perfect world, you would have the same call to action on each page of your site.

  2. Include Background Music
    Including music in your website design is perhaps the fastest way to annoy visitors. It is easier to simply close the window than figure out how to turn off the music. Use music on your site and you can almost guarantee a reduction in sales.

  3. Faulty Navigation
    First of all, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Visitors expect your website navigation to be like every other site they visit. Primary navigation goes along the top and left side of the page. Underlined words in text are links. Buttons and other actionable items are obvious. Be mindful of where you place your links and how you organize them. Create logical groups of related links. Put the most important links on the top-level navigation bar. Place functional links (dashboard, account log in, settings, etc.) and legal links (copyright, privacy, etc.) somewhere else. Also, consider using breadcrumb navigation. This lets visitors know where they are on any given page.

  4. No Contact Information
    If your site doesn’t have contact information, you are basically telling potential customers you don’t want their business. At the very least, list your phone number on each page of your site. For even better customer service, include a short contact form on your homepage and each additional page. All you need to gather is their name, phone number or email address, and a brief message.

  5. Not Formatted for Online Reading
    People read online content differently than print materials. Websites need to be conducive to scanning and skimming. Large blocks of text will most certainly get skipped over. Use subheadings, bullets, highlighted words and short paragraphs.

  6. No Relevant Content
    If you manage to get repeat visitors, will they find the exact same content they saw four months ago? Update your site at least once a month. To keep your site fresh and active, add a blog. Or, link your social media accounts with your site so visitors know what you’ve been up to.

  7. Faulty Color Scheme
    If visitors can’t read your content, why would they bother sticking around – or coming back? One of the biggest hindrances to reading content is color and contrast.

    Check out other sites. Which color combinations work well? Which leave you with a splitting headache? While it is fine to experiment a bit with color for some things, you really shouldn’t mess with the color combination of the site’s text. Any big chunks of text should be black on white.

  8. Not Being Mobile Friendly
    The vast majority of your visitors will come to your site from a mobile device. Is your site optimized for their visit? If it's not, do so immediately!

  9. Using Every Opportunity to be Annoying
    Does your site use a different design on every page? Do you use obnoxious fonts that are hard to read? Did you ignore the importance of white space? Do you use a ton of animation? Do pop-ups attack visitors on every page?

Not everyone was created for website design. If you simply don’t have the skills required to produce quality, eye-catching, attractive designs, have no shame. You have plenty of other useful traits! Consider hiring a professional web designer. Or, purchase a well-designed template to work with.

If you haven’t looked at your business’s website in a while, take the time now to really evaluate it. What impression will your visitors have?

Posted in Tips & Resources, Online Branding

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