Wrench on a nail & hammer on a screw

We work a lot with small business owners, and there are a number of mistakes we see people make that can be easily avoided. Any one of these mistakes can have a large impact on the success of a website. Here are 8 common mistakes, and what you can do about them.

1. Being too wordy / Overly educating

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, The Power of Emotions – or, The Dreaded Wall of Text, too much text can be a real turn-off to potential customers. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of information on your site if you want. However, if your visitors are greeted right out of the gate with a flood of information, it’s easy to send them into information overload. The more simply you can express the benefit they’ll gain from patronizing your business, the more likely they are to buy. From there, you can always give them options for more information if they’re interested in drilling down into the nitty gritty.

2. No Call-to-Action (CTA)

Along with the sense of overwhelm that we all experience at times in this information rich society, comes a certain paralysis. Sometimes if feels easier to do nothing than to try to figure out what the next step is. A good CTA gives visitors a clear course of action, as well as an enticing reason to follow that course.

dice with letters on each side

3. Too busy

Again with the information overload. Flashing banners, things that move on the page without any interaction from the viewer, audio that plays automatically when the page loads. All of these contribute to a bad user experience. Forcing your visitors to interact without their consent is a big no-no, and will cause them to click away as quick as their fingers will allow.

4. Not keeping info up to date

Have you ever gone to a website and found the information on it obviously outdated? This communicates a lack of concern for details from that business, and is an immediate turn-off for the majority of visitors. If they can’t bother to do something as simple as keep their website content updated, what makes anyone think they’d do any better for other aspects of the business?

eight-track tapes

5. Using a DIY web builder

It seems like everybody is trying to get a piece of the do-it-yourself pie these days. The big players are Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. While it is possible to build something really nice with these services, remember that there’s always a learning curve. They may be a cheaper alternative, but unless you already have web design experience, chances are the site will end up looking decidedly DIY. Plus, they’re more limiting to work with as far as SEO goes. I know SEO professionals that turn away clients who use a DIY service, because they can’t guarantee results with the poor tools they would have to work with.

Also, once you build a website with one of these services, you’re stuck with them. Because they all use proprietary software, you can’t move your site to another service. It’s stay with them, or start over from the beginning.

6. Trying to appeal to too broad of a market

There is an old business idea (paraphrasing here) that if you’re not aiming for anything particular, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Nothing particular. The more clear you are about your target market, the easier it is to create content that appeals to them. We’ve seen it time and again, where in a effort to appeal to the broadest market possible, a website will dilute their message until they don’t appeal to anyone. Be specific, and you’re more likely to get the customers you’re aiming for.

7. Not speaking to your visitors problem

The simple truth is that the only reason someone visits your site is because they have a problem they hope you can remedy. Are you a restaurant? Your sites visitors are looking to you to fix their hunger issue. A CPA? They’re trying to avoid the pain of paying too much in taxes. A dentist? Well… that one’s pretty obvious. The more clearly you can speak to your visitors particular problem, the more likely they are to buy what you’re selling. Like the previous point, this comes down to understanding  your target market, and speaking directly to them.

8. Paying too much or too little

This one can be a little tricky if you’re not familiar with the industry. It comes down to this: you’re more likely to get what you need if you avoid the extremes. I’ve seen people spend tens of thousands of dollars on a website that could easily have been build for a few thousand, because they didn’t shop around. Unless you’re asking for something never seen before, and your web designer is having to create the entire framework from scratch, there are plenty of talented people around who won’t charge an arm and a leg. (Of course, the more complex the site, the more expensive it will be). I’ve also seen people go with the cheapest option they could find because… well… cheap. However, this almost always ends up costing more in the long run because they invariably end up with a sub-par product, and have to go to a reputable web designer later to build the site correctly.

If I had to boil it all down to one sentence, it would be this: don’t overwhelm or confuse your visitors, do your research, and have it done right the first time.