Let's face it, starting a business can be hectic. There are so many things to get done and the to-do list gets longer every day.
However, for most businesses, it is important to have an online presence that includes a website. A website is usually the first thing people think of when starting their business. They want to get on the Internet and have a hub where they can send their customers and also draw new customers.
Creating a website can be tricky. First, if you aren’t web savvy you may not understand exactly how a website works and what is needed to create one. That is a whole other article and I promise to do one on that in the near further. For now, I want to focus on common mistakes I see new businesses or businesses just starting their website make.
It can be a blur of activity when you are working with a web designer or creating your own website. The graphics, the text, the branding, the elements, blogs, videos, newsletters, social media links, photos…it can be exhausting. So I can understand why some things fall through the cracks. Heck, I’ve made these mistakes in the past too.
I’m a self-taught web designer. I taught myself how to design websites out of urgent need. I needed a job. There was a job for a web designer. I knew nothing about websites. I spent 24 hours teaching myself HTML. I interviewed and got the job!
From there I built on that knowledge and used it to create websites for my own online business as well as websites for other small businesses. I’ve also re-designed websites for small businesses. All together I have about 20 years experience building websites. (Wow, has it been that long!?) So you can see I’ve had experience in this area and have seen these common five mistakes over and over.
So let’s get to the mistakes and my suggestions on how to fix them…
1. Non User-Friendly Homepage
So many people overlook the importance of their homepage or welcome page. I’m referring to the first page a visitor sees when they go to your whateverwhatever (dot) com here. Either people make the page so simple that it tells the visitor nothing about the business, the services, what they offer or it’s so busy and full of information the visitor doesn’t know where to begin to get the information they want.
This is your first impression. It’s your first chance to wow your visitors and pulls them in to further investigate your website.
It’s important to have clear navigation on the page that visitors can find easily. Depending on the scroll length of your page you may want to have navigation at the top and the bottom of your page.
There are other key elements that are commonly missed on the homepage. These are in no order. It is up to you and your web designer to decide what to put where on your webpage:
The Main Image - this is the first image your visitors will see that will tell them about your business. The Internet is a visual place, folks browsing will stop for an amazing image. So make the main image on your homepage reflect what you want your website visitors to know about your business.
What You Offer - so many times I hear business owners say “my customers/clients know what I do”. That’s great! But do they really? And what about new visitors? Don’t assume the people visiting your website already understand everything about your business. Your website is an advertisement so use as such. One of the first things a visitor to your page should see is what you offer. This is can be a quick tagline or feature of your business that will grab someone’s attention.
What You Do & Why - this is different than "what you offer" from above. This is where you make space to tell your visitor what you do and why. Do you serve a particular customer? Who enjoys your product? Why do your customers love your stuff? Tell your visitors what you do and why you do and why they should buy from you. It’s really pretty simple.
Call to Action - this is where you give your visitors something to do. It can be a link to sign-up for your newsletter or an offer for a discount or link to your portfolio. Whatever it is, it is calling your visitors to do something and explore your services more. You can and should have more than one call to action on your homepage and they should be in prompt places throughout the page.
Benefits - what are the benefits of your product or service? This is a great place to talk about you have helped or why your products are better than your competitors.
Offers - here you should place any current sales, specials, featured products or services, current articles, etc. Keep this current and up-to-date so that it changes keeps your homepage fresh.
2. Inconsistent or No Branding
Your website is not the place to try something new with regard to colors, logos, themes, etc. I don’t know how many times a client came to me wanting to start a website and said: “I want to do something totally different with my website.” Ummm…no. This is not the time to do that unless you want to re-brand entirely.
On your website, you want to stay consistent with your brand. Be sure to use your brand colors, fonts, logos, and style. It’s also important to utilize photos and images from your actual business if at all possible, especially if you sell products.
If you are just starting out with a new business or have been in business without a solid brand or want to re-brand, you will find my free "Quick & Easy Brand Board Guide” very helpful for tips on creating a brand board step by step.
3. Too Much Information
Information overload is common on websites. Remember too much information can be confusing so be selective about what goes on your website. Not everything about your business needs to be on your website, and there are other ways of getting that information out there to your visitors that may be more efficient.
Make use of tools like downloadable PDF files, videos, info-graphics, and portfolios. Also be sure to put the right information in the right spot on your website. Categorize information and make individual pages from there. Don’t lump everything together on one page that scrolls forever. Remember the Internet is where people go to get quick information.
4. Too Little Information
Now that I talked about too much information, let me talk about not having enough information. There is a fine line between the two.
You want to make sure you provide enough content to engage your visitors and make them interested in your business. If you don’t give them enough information to get to that point they will lose interest and move on to the next website. This definitely ties into the homepage but it also applies to all areas of your website.
If you sell products, make sure your product descriptions are appealing and contain the details a buyer will want to know to make them hit that buy button.
Again, don’t assume a visitor already knows something about your type of business or the product/service you offer. You are not a cookie-cutter business. Present yourself as unique as you are!
5. No Personality
And speaking of being unique, what so many websites are missing is personality!
Anyone can have a website and honestly, anyone can set up a business selling something online today. What people crave are connections. They want to know the face behind the brand. They want to know who they are buying from when they are buying from a small business.
Don’t mimic the big faceless corporations. What works for them does not work for small businesses. The power we have over large corporations is that we can interact with our customers on a personal level. We are individual people with the same struggles and joys as our audience. Chalk it up to reality TV or YouTube Vloggers, but folks love seeing how regular people live their lives.
Use your personality and your individuality to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Let your visitors know who is behind the brand and why you do what you do. They may find things in common with you, grow to trust you, and then become a loyal customer.
So there you have it, five of the most common mistakes small business owners make on the websites. These may look like minor mistakes but they make a huge difference in how your audience interacts with your website. Will they stay and purchase or will they go somewhere else?
If you would like a review of your website, I offer a website review service where I send you a recorded video of me thoroughly going over your website and offering suggestions for improvement on branding, content, sales strategies, visitor flow, design, graphics, and more! As someone not familiar with your brand I can give you a fresh take on your site and what a new visitor may see and feel. This is invaluable and will be extremely helpful for you when making updates and changes to your website in the future.