When it comes to establishing sales leads and attracting new business, websites are the best way to make a lasting first impression. If you’re a small business owner, your company’s website is an excellent opportunity to represent your mission and display your goods or services in an easily accessible way — and with the prevalence of Internet usage these days, your business may not be able to survive without it.
On average, you only have 15 seconds to grab and hold a visitor’s attention before they leave your website. If your website is poorly designed or lacks high-quality content, then you’re likely losing out on a great number of potential leads, clients, and collaborators. It could even be the downfall of your business.
To prevent this from happening to you, we’ve put together the top ten mistakes that often appear on small business websites. Avoid them, and you’ll optimize both your website and your user experience.
1. Lack of or Out-Dated Contact Information
When researching a business, many people prefer to visit a website instead of picking up the phone and making a call. So if you don’t have the correct business contact information on your website, you’re losing out on potential customers. Not only will people not be able to reach you, but missing contact information can also hurt your rankings on various search engines.
Solution: Avoid frustrating your potential customers by always keeping your contact information up to date. People expect a current phone number, email address, and physical location address.
2. Unclear or Overly Complex Copy
Similes and metaphors belong in poetry and prose — not on a small business website. Your website copy should make your message and branding as clear and straightforward as possible so that it is easily digestible by the masses. Text that is too vague or too witty can often go right over your customers’ heads, diluting your message and complicating your brand. If site visitors don’t understand what you are trying to convey, you’ll lose them.
Solution: Simplify your copy. Do not sacrifice clarity for wit. Be straightforward and never vague. Give your audience the answers to their most important questions: Who are you, what do you offer, what makes you different, and why should they care? After you’ve offered up the essentials, feel free to delve into detail using additional dedicated pages that are optional for customers to visit.
3. Too Much Text
To put it bluntly, excessive text will scare your customers away. When people visit your website, they’re often looking for information presented in clear and simple terms, without searching through paragraphs of text to find it. Visual elements also help to capture a visitor’s attention, putting your brand on display in an easy and accessible way.
Solution: Save the heavy text for blogs, articles, or additional dedicated pages (such as About, Our Mission, etc.) so that your main pages can immediately convey pertinent information to your customers.
4. Lack of Credibility
Customers want to feel confident that they’ll get a good result from their investment, so they rely on reviews, recommendations, and feedback to make their decisions. Let’s say a customer is interested in working with you, purchasing from you, or hiring you for a service. They may visit your website to find out more information, but while they’re impressed on a surface level, they discover that you have no customer testimonials — and therefore nothing to back up your claims of expertise. With no proof that you offer a great product or service, they move on to your competitors.
Solution: Include specific, genuine testimonials from trusted customers and clients in a place that is easily viewable or accessible. In addition to your professional branding presence, display the logos and brands of reputable partners you may have worked with or collaborated with in the past (with their permission, of course). And if you have certifications, awards, or media exposure, flaunt it.
5. Low Quality Images or Over-Use of Stock Images
With the prevalence of popular image-heavy social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, we live in a world dominated by high-quality imagery — so it’s important that your website measures up. Low-quality images are vague, unprofessional, and confusing — not exactly the kind of representation you want for your business. Additionally, using too many generic stock photos can make your company appear lackluster and unremarkable.
Solution: Use unique, proprietary images. If you’re not a talented photographer yourself, hire someone who is. A few keys to great photos are mindful placement, proper lighting, and a clear and defined subject. By creating great imagery, you establish a good visual first impression and allow users to dive into an aesthetic experience that truly represents who you are. Images that are unique to your business will drive your brand and create a visual that customers will remember.
6. Confusing Navigation
The user experience is everything. Many poorly made websites will have too many navigation options, irrelevant menus, or non-intuitive labels that people don’t understand (i.e. “Talk About It” versus “Contact Us”). Users need to find what they’re looking for without having to guess which page actually holds the answers to their questions.
Solution: Instead of oversaturating or complicating your navigation, choose clear, concise, and specific labels to make it easy for your customer to find information. For example, a great standard e-commerce website will have the following navigation labels:
7. Slow Load Times
Web surfers have a very small attention span and very little patience. If you have extremely large images, too many plug-ins, animated fluff, or extraneous add-ons, you increase the chances of slowing down your website — and decrease the number of customers who are willing to stick around to wait for it to load. By having a speedy website, you’re more likely to grab and hold a customer’s attention, allowing for better exposure for you and your offerings.
Solution: Optimize your website by reducing image sizes and eliminating plugins or add-ons that are either irrelevant or obsolete.
8. Improper SEO Structure
Search engine optimization or “SEO” is vital to the performance and visibility of your website. Without proper SEO practices, your pages, content, or even your whole website may be virtually invisible to the internet. If that’s the case, potential customers will never see you in their search results.
Solution: Boost your SEO by using proper headers, optimizing your images, creating effective link structures, and ensuring your website has the information needed to be absolutely crawlable by search engines.
9. No Call-To-Action
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what products you offer, or what content you’re promoting: there should always be an opportunity for your customer to act. A call-to-action allows site visitors to digest your content and then act immediately on it with the click of a button. Without an easy way to take action, you lose the chances of creating a sale or relationship with the customer.
Solution: Mindfully disperse various calls-to-action throughout your content to ensure you’re creating the best opportunities for your customers to make a move. Some great examples include:
“Contact Us Today”
10. Choosing an Excessively Long or Complicated Domain Name
Long story short, if your customer cannot spell or remember your domain name, it’s likely they’ll never return to your website after they chance upon it the first time.
Solution: Choose a domain name that is easy to remember, easy to spell, and can be easily shared or relayed.
Ready to Mistake-Proof Your Website?
By following the above tips, you’ll have a competitive edge over the small businesses that make these common website mistakes. If you’re still having trouble with your website, or if you just don’t have the time to execute the solutions, Reader Digital Agency can help. Please feel free to contact us today for a free consultation to best optimize your website for an effective and impactful impression!