Making mistakes on a personal blog, if you’re not trying to make money or present some professional image – is OK. Making mistakes on your business website is not OK, and it may be holding you back from doing as well as you would like to. Some business owners will just re-use their personal website theme and style for their business website. Saving time and energy when you create your business site are not things you should be considering.
Here are 10 big mistakes that many business owners make with their websites. Stay clear of these!
1. Weak Planning
Most of you won’t sit down and plan out your business site in detail. You will likely leave it to someone else to create for you and you’ll approve it if it is generally what you wanted. Take control and plan the design of your site. The entire format should be your ideas, coupled with what works for other major sites in your niche – or maybe even outside your niche. It is a safe bet that companies like Amazon and other major companies are going with what works. It may work for you too.
Plan your columns, width of the site, fonts, size of fonts, space between lines, header image, everything really. This business site is to represent your business – and must be professional, and attractive in design. Don’t skimp! Instead of going with everything you want – put it up for discussion at a meeting of your staff. Include everyone – not just the top management. Everything needs to be analyzed by the group. Your ideas might NOT be the best.
At most your business site can have 3 goals, and should have them in most cases:
a. Share info about you, your business, your products and services.
b. Sell something.
c. Collect leads for email marketing later.
2. Impossible to Find Contact Info
I can’t count the times I’ve hunted around for an email address or contact form for the owner of a site. Sometimes I want to help by telling them I see an error. Sometimes I need more info before I purchase. Sometimes I want to gripe someone out! Make contact information on every page in an easy to see location. Keep it in the same place on every page.
3. 404 Errors
Broken links to pages and also images should be fixed and never allowed to remain. Fix them as soon as you find them. If you have a WordPress site you can use the “Redirection” plugin to find errors in your site and redirect visitors to the proper page.
4. Outdated Information
It is bad enough that some website owners don’t date their articles and so you might be reading something written in the past century. Some date it rather recent, and it’s still outdated information. Strive to keep all of the information on your business site current – there is nothing good about spreading old, bad information.
5. Aesthetics Nightmare
If you are not an artist or graphics person, please don’t choose the colors and style of your business website. At least run it by a few members of your staff – those that will give you a straight answer when asked for their opinion. I wonder how in the world some of the color combinations I see ever saw the light of day. I imagine they were grandfather’s favorite colors or something. The style of your website must be kept current and easy on the eyes – and that’s always a changing dynamic.
6. Dead End Pages
Sometimes I’ll be surfing a site I like a lot and all the sudden I reach the equivalent of a dead-end street. There are no links to click to move forward or backward and I have to go find the browser’s back button. This is not a good idea for your business site.
7. Killing the Back Button!
This doesn’t happen much, but sometimes webmasters break the back button using code to disable it. It is a killer mistake as nobody wants to be forced to move ahead if it is time to bail. Stop this practice on your business site immediately!
These are beginning to be popular again, though not in the same style as the past. Currently, a good style of popup is the kind used at Aweber that involves a fading in of the page overtop what the visitor is looking at – the rest of the page blacks out and all you can see is the popup. If this is done a minute after the visitor arrives and the fade is rather gradual – it doesn’t provoke such a negative reaction. Don’t use old-pop-styles.
9. Giant Home Page
Your internet connection might be a T1, but not all your visitors have that. Create index pages that are easy to download for 90% of your visitors and the other 10% know they have a bandwidth issue and will wait if they really want to see your site. You cannot optimize your site for everyone but think top 90% and you’ll be on the right track.
Delete all Flash and replace large movies and images with smaller sized media.
10. Using Cutting Edge Tech
Your website should be able to be viewed and enjoyed by the top 90% of visitors. Shoot for that. Using Apple’s QuickTime mp4 videos that require a program download and updating to the latest video codecs is NOT hitting 90%. Get over yourself and use technology that most of the world has – unless you have a tech blog or other business in which users actually dig updates.
Put these tips into practice with every business website you develop. There are many other things to learn about running a business successfully in these times – but, these tips will help quite a bit.