Not every small business has a monolithic budget to work with. Yet, creating an attractive, user-friendly website is the equivalent of having a birth certificate — you simply MUST have one if you want to exist! For some businesses, the website will be a place for web searchers to find the store location, hours, and basic information. For others, it will be a way of capturing leads, converting sales, and maintaining an audience. No matter what stage of the game you’re at, be sure you aren’t making these top 8 web design mistakes!
1. Your website was not developed with “SEO” in mind.
Every good website begins with keyword research. There is no excuse for skipping this step with tools like the Google Keyword Tracker available for free! You want to find words and phrases related to what you do or sell that are low in competition, but high in search volume. These keywords should be sprinkled naturally throughout the text on your site, as well as in key areas like the ALT-tags, META-tags, headlines, titles, image tags, and SEO description boxes.
2. You are writing for search engines, not customers.
Of course, it’s possible to gravitate from one extreme to the other. In the past, marketers believed that they would get ideal search engine ranking by stuffing (or sometimes even dumping) as many keywords onto the page as possible. However, Google is hip to these scam artists and that’s a quick way to get blacklisted. These days, using a few keywords organically is recommended, but mostly write for your audience with fresh, relevant, unique editorial topics that is of particular interest to your readers. Check social media sites to see what people are buzzing about — and incorporate these topics into your strategy.
3. You didn’t research your target audience first.
There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” website. While it may appear that way, every major brand has a clear understanding of their target market and has made every minor decision along the way with that segment in mind. For instance, older readers may appreciate larger fonts with very clear letters. Younger readers may be more impressed with a unique, artsy font and bolder color scheme.
4. You are micromanaging or letting some designer steamroll you.
It can be challenging to work with another company on a design project. Some business owners micromanage every detail and drive their designer bonkers. The end result is a designer that rushes to get rid of you and delivers a sub-par project. It may have all the elements you thought you wanted, but lack the designer’s skill and expertise. On the other hand, some business owners take the hands-off approach, but give very little input to make the site their own. As a result, the designer might miss the mark and create an under-performing website that needs to be redone later.
5. You think web design is a one-time setup.
Websites that don’t have fresh content and comments quickly fall off Google’s radar. In other words, you won’t get any new leads through your site. A customer searching for your company name specifically may still be able to find your old dinosaur of a website, but that’s about it! Keeping a blog maintained at least once a week and creating a new page every month can help drive visitors to your website, keep traffic coming to your stores, and boost your web presence.
6. You are doing it all yourself.
A business owner’s chief concerns should be clinching sales, driving profitability for investors, and envisioning revolutionary products or services. You shouldn’t be spending vast amounts of time designing a website, writing a blog, or social media marketing. All these strategies are essential for your business’s success, but you have to realize: you are just ONE person! You cannot possibly do it all — and do it all well! Leaving some tasks to a responsible web design and online marketing company will save you many, many headaches, while also freeing up a great deal of time that is better spent elsewhere.
7. Your design is too off-the-wall.
Web users don’t like to be assaulted with video, loud noise and flashing ads when they arrive on your site. You may feel a certain introduction looks good, but if the user can’t find what he or she is looking for within a few seconds, you’ve lost that prospect forever. Besides, you want to make sure your site is optimized for tablets and mobile devices — where a lot of consumers are surfing these days.
8. You don’t know what “call to action” means.
Without a clear sense of direction, the average web user wonders, “What am I doing? Why am I here?” By that point, you’ve lost your prospect. Each page and blog post must have a clear “call-to-action” at the end. Once you’ve presented the information, you want to answer the question: “What should I do now?” Do you want users to contact you, subscribe to a newsletter, test-drive your product, or visit your social media page? You can offer your help, without sounding too pushy.
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