You’ve built a website that represents your business well. You took pictures. You created content for multiple pages. You purchased a domain and server space. You made your website live. So, why aren’t you getting the customer response you expected? You might have fallen prey to common web design mistakes that small businesses make. Even a few of these mistakes can drive all but the most loyal customers away.
Web Design Mistake #1: Slow Loading Website
With the advent of high-speed Internet, customers are no longer patient about waiting for webpages to load. Most customers will wait no longer than 3 to 5 seconds. There are several possible reasons that your website may be loading slowly:
- Your server is not fast enough
- You’re not using the latest version of your CMS (e.g., WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, etc.)
- You’ve not optimized images in your website
- You’ve not optimized your website for mobile
There are easy fixes for all of these issues. The cost of not addressing these issues could be great, especially if your website is instrumental in helping you attract and retain customers.
Web Design Mistake #2: Inaccessible Content
When potential customers visit your website, they want to be able to engage with the content that you’ve made available to them. Even if your webpage loads quickly, potential customers can become quickly disenchanted if they discover that they cannot access content on your website. Inaccessible content can take many forms:
- Pages that display as a solid color (typically white) without text, images, links or any other graphic elements.
- Pages that display 404 error pages.
- Customers are asked to install a program like Flash to access your content.
- Customers are not able to play audio or video files.
- Customers are not able to download files.
- Customers are not able to submit forms (like registration forms or logins).
- Customers encounter broken links.
Customers who encounter these issues have a poor experience. It is wise to keep ahead of these issues and encounter customers to report these issues to you to address immediately.
Web Design Mistake #3: Inadequate Information on Products and Services
While you should treat your website as more than just a digital pitch for your business, you need to foreground what you can offer to potential customers on your website. Potential customers are making decisions about whether or not to engage with you based on the information that you provide them on your website. As much as possible, you need to tell them what you can offer them if they choose to become your customer. At minimum, your description of products and services should include:
- Accurate and adequate descriptions (including possible drawbacks)
- Methods of delivery
- Detailed costs
- Answers to frequently asked questions
In short, you need to provide all the information that customers need to make a good, informed decision about purchasing from you. While you can’t anticipate every possible question about your products or services, you want to make sure that customers know that you’ve made a good effort to represent your business.
Web Design Mistake #4: Insecure E-Commerce
If you are open for business online, you need to provide customers with a secure method of entering their personal and financial information when paying for your products and services. You might do this by using a verified secure third-party service (like Paypal) for e-commerce. You can set up an account with minimal effort.
But if you decide to create an e-commerce feature on your own website, you need to make sure that you use est practices for creating a secure website. To do this, you need use what is called a SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. You can get one for free (e.g., at https://letsencrypt.org/) or pay for one through web hosting services (like DreamHost).
That being said, the process can be a little tricky. To learn more, check out this article on the topic:
Web Design Mistake #5: Out-of-Date Contact Information
Potential customers may forgive typos and outdated graphics, but they expect contact information to be accurate and up-to-date. Contact information includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- Physical addresses
- Mailing addresses (if different from the physical address of your storefront)
- Email addresses
- Phone numbers
- Fax numbers
Customers need to know how to reliably reach you. You don’t want customers arriving at an empty storefront, reaching a different business on the telephone, faxing their financial information to the wrong number or the like. Keeping your contact information up-to-date on your website is one of the most important ways to create credibility with customers.
Web Design Mistake #6: Inaccurate Hours of Operation and Availability
Even if your contact information is up-to-date, posting inaccurate hours of operation can be a real turnoff to customers. For example, if your posted hours of operation on your website are 8 AM to 5 PM but you post on your storefront that you are closed from 12 PM to 2 PM for lunch, your customers may be irritated with the discrepancy. If customers cannot rely on your posted hours of operation on your website, they may decide to go with one of your competitors instead.
Additionally, online small businesses should honor their promises about availability to customers. While it is okay to send an immediate automated response to confirm that an inquiry was received, small businesses should send a personalized follow-up communication to customers within 24 hours. If inquiries go unanswered, customers may disengage and take their business elsewhere.
To Avoid These Mistakes, Do Regular Content Audits
The only way to ensure you aren’t falling prey to these common web design mistakes small businesses make is to do regular content audits of your website. To learn more about content audits, check out this hand dandy article we wrote on the topic: