Building a winning website is easy for big-league companies. They have enormous budgets, and with those enormous budgets, they can hire whole teams of experienced web designers with strong track records. Such things are luxuries for start-up or medium-sized businesses, who are often left to either fend for themselves or take a chance of hiring a web developer who doesn’t have the same track record of success. Because of that, there are a lot of small businesses out there with terrible websites – and a terrible website is often worse than not having one at all.
Here’s a fact that might scare you a little if you own a small company and you do your business on the internet. You only have seven seconds to make a positive first impression on first-time visitors to your site. If people don’t get a positive impression of you and your business within those seven seconds, they’ll click the ‘back’ button and go to one of your rivals instead. That means all the thoughtful promotional copy you’ve written and the great content you’ve got on pages other than your landing page will never get read. It may as well not be there. That means it’s a mistake to put your focus on anything other than your landing page – and that’s far from the only web design mistake a small business owner might make.
Fortunately (and, in some cases, unfortunately), we’ve seen it all when it comes to web design mistakes made by small businesses. If there’s an upside to that, it’s the fact that we can list them here in the hope that you might learn from them and avoid making them yourself!
Let’s make no bones about it – badly placed or hidden navigational tools lose visitors, and if you lose visitors, you lose customers. It’s become fashionable in recent years to hide all navigation options behind three-lined menu buttons, but not everybody is familiar with that form of design shorthand. Even if your visitors know what that button means, it’s no good to them if it’s not in an immediately obvious place. People are trained to expect navigation menus to be in the upper corners of websites, and if you move them away from there, you’re likely to run into difficulties. Keep them there, or consider using a side or top menu so long as you can do so without making it cluttered.
Lack of Search Functionality
Some visitors don’t want to find their way around your website by clicking buttons or hunting for menus. They want a nice, easy search function that they can type in and find what they’re looking for that way. This is the most basic indexing tool your website could possibly have, and yet it’s becoming increasingly common for them to be omitted in favor of sleeker, more minimalistic design styles. Don’t make that mistake. The search function should be placed somewhere prominent with a magnifying glass image to make it stand out, and all of your pages should have strong tags to optimize the performance of the search. If people want to get straight to the point by searching for a keyword, they should be able to do so.
No Contact Information
It takes a lot of trusts for people to order goods or services from a company through the internet for the first time. No matter how good looking your website is or how glowing your testimonials are, there will always be a suspicion that you might be operating a scam. People look for contact details as a way to alleviate these concerns. If they can find your phone number and they know where your offices are, they’re more likely to establish that trust and go ahead with their purchase. It might be more convenient for you to have your ‘contact us’ button lead directly to an email form, but customers would be happier with more information. You could even include pictures of yourself and your office to help build that trust.
Too Much Clutter
The landing page of your website should have a solitary purpose. That purpose will generally either be to establish who you are or to sell your products immediately. It shouldn’t try to do both things at the same time, and nor should it attempt to do anything else. You have a limited amount of digital real estate when it comes to landing pages, and so they should be as simple and easy to digest as possible. If you want an example of good practice in action, check out an online slots website like Rose Slots. Nowhere on the landing page of an online slots website will you find a lengthy passage of text explaining who the company is or what their values are, or their back story. You won’t find distracting images, links to affiliates, or other content that might drag your attention elsewhere. All you’ll find is row upon row of online slots. That gives them a sense of immediacy and is part of the reason the industry they operate within makes so much money.
Poorly Placed Adverts
Web hosting can be expensive. Placing adverts on your page is a way of offsetting that expense. That doesn’t mean you should do it, though, and even if you do decide to do it, you shouldn’t accept adverts that work on a ‘pop-out’ or ‘roll over’ basis. We can all think of news websites that load up so much advertising content that the stories we’re trying to read are obscured by them. We’ve all probably clicked away from websites in frustration after that’s happened. People will do the same with your site if your adverts get in the way. From a psychological point of view, the inclusion of adverts also tells your visitors that you’re not making enough money from your business to support yourself. Stay away from them unless you absolutely have to use them, and be extremely selective if you do.
These ought not to be difficult guidelines to work to. It basically amounts to keeping things simple, allowing people to find their way around your site however they like, and making sure there’s an easy way to contact you. It might be a ‘back to basics’ style of building a business website, but without the basics, we’d have nothing at all. Make these the foundations of your next website redesign, and we’re confident you’ll see more business generated.