Many small businesses are faced with significant challenges when they go to launch a website. The biggest challenge being the lack of money. We know. Even though we are well into our SEO services business now, it was not that long ago that we were rubbing sticks together to stay warm. Additionally, I've built and sold businesses before. The beginning is always a challenge, no matter how you slice it.
So just as a small business is trying to get some lift, they often make some deadly mistakes on their website design. And I'll take off my SEO services hat for a minute and try to address this more broadly. So what are the biggest problems with small business web design?
1) Asking a friend to do the website on the side Sure, we all want a barter to save money. But this is your website. More and more, this is your virtual storefront. When you ask a friend to do your small business website design on the side, you are not likely to be happy with the outcome. Why? Because your friend is busy too. It will not get top priority. And no offense to your friend, but they are probably not the best designer and developer around.
2) A poor design is selected Hear this and hear it loud. Design is important. Chad will be very proud of me for saying this. But design is up there in importance with SEO. How? Well, the best SEO services can get people to your site. But with a poor design, the bounce rate will be high, the time on site will be low and the conversion will stink. This means all of your hard-spent SEO services dollars are completely wasted as you will not end up with customers. Trust me, it's taken me many years to come to this opinion. But it's true. Hire a good designer and test your designs.
3) There is not a strong call-to-action Even a small business website needs a very clear and strong call to action. If you don't know what this is, read up on it. It is what you want your visitors to do on your site. Usually it is some type of sign up or purchase. If your goal is making a sale, you want people to have a very clear path to a shopping cart and a way to BUY NOW. If you are selling services that require consultation, you want a very clear path to CONTACT US. This should be very obvious and up front. It is what you want from your visitors. Don't make it difficult.
4) The website is confusing This one is tricky. Even in SEO services we fuss with this all the time. Are we link building? Are we SEO consulting? Are we a place for SEO knowledge? You can extrapolate to your industry, but you get the idea. You need to be crisp. Your visitors will be on your site for an average of 1.4 minutes (if it is a good site) - you don't have time to waste. They need to get your message fast, and it needs to be clear.
5) SEO is not a primary consideration Okay, you knew this was coming from us. We are in the SEO services business, so perhaps we are biased. But unless your business model is completely based on off-line customer acquisition or paid advertising only, you will need SEO services to help promote your site. This job will be much much easier if the basic SEO considerations are baked into the site from the very construction. This means a clear theme for the site. Keyword research before website design. A navigation structure that is user-friendly, but also search engine friendly. And the usual things about tags, titles, keyword-rich content, etc. You can read more on onsite SEO and Off site SEO at each of these links.
Conclusions We know that small businesses are short on cash. We have been through the start up process more than once. So we don't take these recommendations lightly. But that being said, your website is your virtual storefront. More than ever, customers are going online to shop and research. This is true even for items they eventually purchase off-line. You really don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. This is why small business web design is something that deserves your time and attention before the project is too far down the track.