An online identity for any company has become an essential aspect of business strategies.
If done correctly, the impact that a professional website can have on a business’ bottom line can be significant.
However, many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) tend to sabotage their online reputation unintentionally by implementing harmful decisions or neglecting the site.
Some owners believe that, once a website is created and live, their work is done.
However, developing a site is just the beginning; consistent maintenance is the key to generating repeat traffic and interest from customers.
On the other hand, some SMBs overload their site with colors, text, images and videos that may overwhelm visitors and deter them from conducting business.
The following are five of the most common mistakes businesses make and suggestions for how you can keep from becoming a business stereotype.
1. Common website mistake one
When consumers encounter a business website that is lacking availability, such as restricted pages or unexpected downtime, their negative experience is reflected directly onto that business.
Poor uptime significantly damages a business’ reputation, as a company’s website is often the first impression for potential customers.
1&1 Internet Inc. recently conducted research proving that 53 percent of U.S. consumers become frustrated and stressed when they are forced to deal with unreliable websites.
Additionally, a surprising 58 percent are unwilling to use that business in the future.
Your business can avoid being associated with such disappointment by limiting the amount of demanding content your site contains.
Slow speed is a characteristic that people often consider to be a factor in their decision of working with a business.
Flash video is one of the most common culprits of slow running sites.
Restrict your site to one Flash video on a project or testimonial, for example.
If you have additional videos that you wish to showcase, provide a link to a professional YouTube page.
2. Common website mistake two
The second common mistake is ineffective navigation.
When potential customers visit your site, they want to find answers to their inquiries as fast as possible.
If the information they are searching for is not clearly determined, the visitor will lose interest and altogether abandon the inquiry.
Additionally, search engines rely heavily on the organization of a site when determining your search engine ranking.
A prominent ranking on search engine result pages increases your visibility to potential customers who otherwise may not know you exist.
Information such as essential facts and news about your business, professional skills and services offered should be easily accessible.
Consider creating a designated webpage for each of these.
As the most sought-after content, your contact information should be static on the navigation bar so it is available on every page.
3. Common website mistake three
The third common mistake is distracting fonts and colors.
Too often, business owners are misled to believe that using many different fonts and colors will generate interest from visitors.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
The focus should remain on you and your business by keeping things simple and consistent throughout the site.
Some do-it-yourself website design packages come with industry-specific layouts to help set a foundation for your website.
Because many professionals are unsure of what to include, the predetermined text, layouts and industry-specific content provide a solid starting point for getting online.
Reading on a computer screen is more difficult than reading on paper, so keep your visitors in mind.
Help them by using one font and limited colors to highlight important information while avoiding busy designs.
They are looking to attain information as quickly as they can.
Larger text should be used for headings that organize ideas and content.
Additionally, bolded, underlined and italicized words or phrases are great for grabbing the attention of visitors when there needs to be an emphasis on something specific.
4. Common website mistake four
The fourth common mistake is a lack of images or irrelevant images.
Images are a great method to provide perspective customers with examples of your work so they can gain a better understanding of your offerings.
Consider images as a real-life representation of your company; leverage them as a tool to represent professionalism and skills.
Add photo galleries of past projects to illustrate your capabilities to your customers and prospective clients.
Before-and-after shots will also help communicate your talent while allowing viewers to relate to your work.
By omitting such relevant or attractive images, you will miss the opportunity to draw customers and gain their interest.
5. Common website mistake five
The fifth most common mistake is having outdated information.
Contrary to what many business owners believe, maintaining a website is a constantly evolving project.
Outdated contact information, promotions and services will lead the website visitor to think that your business may no longer be in existence.
To prevent this perception, regularly manage and update online content.
Announce your business’ new services and promotions by highlighting them in a way that is easy to locate and understand.
Industry news and trend updates can help regularly create new content for the site, especially if you comment and relate it to your offerings.
You will increase the site’s regular visitors when you frequently publish new content.
Having a web presence is an essential way to advocate for your business — attracting, informing and attaining a large amount of customers.
However, without maintaining an effective, up-to-date and professional website, businesses may be unintentionally sabotaging their online efforts.
If you are subject to any of the aforementioned mistakes, consider reevaluating your current online strategy in order to best represent your business on the web.