If you are a small business owner, you already know how important an attractive, user-friendly website is for your business. But do you know that there are some common mistakes you might be making that are driving away customers?

To help you turn your website into a lean, mean customer-conversion machine, we thought it would be helpful to point out common mistakes found on business websites and tips to avoid them. Read on to learn more.

Poor Website Design

When looking at website templates, you will see some pretty cool designs. Large sliding images, interactive features, artsy elements, interesting color combinations—the list of fun, eye-catching things you can add to your website is endless. But that doesn’t mean they all belong on your website.

Rather than a “busy” (a.k.a. distracting) website, try to choose a clean, responsive design that will focus visitors squarely on your products or services and direct them through your conversion funnel no matter what device they are using. Extra website elements can be fun to look at, but ultimately, they pull the reader’s attention away from what is most important—converting website visitors into customers.

Also, take a hard look at your top-level navigation. Does it clearly tell visitors where your information is? Avoid a ton of main navigation items and dropdowns because it makes visitors work too hard to find what they are looking for.

If you have several pages with one paragraph of text, consider merging them into one page. For example, a website may have an about page, a philosophy page, a mission page, a team page, etc. Visitors don’t necessarily care about all of this information, and it will clutter your navigation. Why not put all of that information on your about page?

Using Low Quality Images

Low-quality images reflect poorly on a business. Visitors to your website will perceive that your company is unprofessional when they see grainy, poor quality photos on the site. The best options for website images include grabbing relevant stock photos from depositphotos.com or another stock photo website or, if possible, having a photographer take photos of your business, products, or services you provide.

If you are on a tight budget, that’s okay. Free stock photo sites like PixabayUnsplash, and others will let you download images without using attribution. You can also take great photos right from your smartphone. Here are a couple of tips to help you get good shots:

  • Choose a high resolution for your photos. Many professionals recommend at least 72dpi as the standard. Usually, your smartphone will already be set to the appropriate dimensions for web. Don’t crop or modify images on your phone. Instead, bring them into a photo editing tool or pass them along to the website builder you are working with and they will size and crop the images appropriately.
  • Don’t use your flash. Instead, use bright or natural light whenever possible.
  • Watch for shadows. Inside, you can position lighting as needed to avoid this. If you are outside, choose a slightly overcast day and try to get photos late morning or late afternoon for the best lighting.
  • Use a tripod. If you don’t have a very steady hand, consider purchasing an inexpensive tripod to avoid a streaked or blurred look in your photos.
  • Scan the area for clutter before taking shots. Clutter will distract from your intended subject. If you are taking outdoor shots of your business, be sure there aren’t vehicles obstructing your view. Check that the surrounding area is free of trash and well-manicured. Inside, clear counters, desks, and other surfaces so viewers can focus on your intended subject.
  • Take wide shots. There are typically many areas on a website that allow for full-width images. Keep this in mind when taking pictures. You might even get a wider shot than needed, knowing that images can always be cropped down and cleaned up before posting them to your website.
  • Use a photo editing tool like Canva or Adobe Photoshop Express to fine-tune your images. As mentioned above, it’s best to bring your photos from your smartphone or camera into a photo editor to size, crop, and save them in the proper web format.
  • Use a consistent distance and background for products. If you are taking product pics, be sure the background is the same and that you use a consistent distance for each shot. Many people go with a pure white background. Investing in a lightbox is highly recommended for bright, Amazon-worthy product photos without shadows or dark spots.
  • If you are working with a website development company, lean on their expertise. They can give you specific pointers, direct you on what to photograph, and help you get your images web ready.

 Using Poorly Crafted Website Content

Writing for the web can be tricky. You want to provide enough content to help your website visitors find answers to their questions, but not so much that they are overwhelmed with information. Here are some common mistakes when writing content for a website:

Too much text: Research shows that website visitors will typically stay on a web page for less than fifteen seconds. That’s not a lot of time to get your message across, so it’s important to present your information in a concise way.  This can usually be accomplished in a couple paragraphs (per page). If you want to expand on or offer additional helpful information, consider putting it in your blog posts instead of your website pages.

Large blocks of text: Web readers prefer information in “bite-sized” pieces instead of large blocks of text. Use short paragraphs, bulleted/numbered lists, and sprinkle in some highly relevant images throughout to hold the reader’s attention and allow them to scan your information easily.

Excessive jargon: Those in your industry may appreciate industry-specific terminology, but your audience probably doesn’t. Communicate your message clearly and in simple terms, sans the industry jargon.

Grammar and spelling errors: A website with errors is its own worst enemy. Most visitors will consider these errors to be unprofessional and a direct reflection of the way you do business. It’s harsh, but that’s the way it is. That said, most people find writing only slightly more tolerable that having a tooth pulled. If you are writing your own content, it’s helpful to have a second set of eyes look at your finished product before you publish it to catch any errors you may have missed. You can also use a free tool like Grammarly, which will catch most grammar and spelling errors.

Self-centered content: If you are an SMB, you know that it’s all about your customers. Make sure your content reflects that. Rather than “I” or “we” statements, focus on how your products or services can help the customer. For example, instead of “I create stunning websites,” try “Learn how to get a stunning website that attracts customers.”

For the especially writing-challenged among us, it might be best to source this job out to a freelancer or the copywriter at your web design firm. While this will cost more up front, it will help you generate more leads from your website in the long run.

Thin text: If your website only has a couple of sentences per page, you are shortchanging yourself in a couple of ways. First, minimal content is frowned upon by search engines, and you won’t rank as well as you could in search results. Secondly, once a visitor lands on your site, they will likely not be able to find all the information they are looking for. This will likely cause them to bounce over to a competitor site.

Neglecting Your Call-To-Action (CTA)

What’s the goal of your website? Would you like to have visitors sign up for a service? Fill out a form for a quote? Give you a call? Purchase a product? When you look at your current website, do you see an easy way for visitors to take that action? If the answer is no, you are missing out on the opportunity to obtain customers.

Whatever your goal, make sure you offer them an easy way to move through your conversion funnel. Here are some CTA tips to consider:

  • Include buttons across the website with text that tells readers exactly what to do, e.g. “Get a Free Quote,” “Give Us a Call,” or “Buy Now.”
  • Insert a short form in the middle of certain pages to encourage an action. This is great if you want visitors to sign up for a newsletter or coupon; or if you want them to contact you.
  • Add a paragraph at the bottom of your web pages encouraging readers to take an action, complete with a link within the text to do so.
  • Make sure your CTAs are in a prominent place. For example, you may have a button in your header so website visitors can see it from any page of your site.

Not Updating Your Website

Now that you’ve added great text, images, and CTAs to your website, make sure it stays up to date so that potential and current customers know exactly what you are offering, where you are located, and what your business days/hours are.

Few things are more frustrating than checking the business hours on a website only to show up and find the place closed. If you are a brick and mortar business, make sure your location information and Google map are showing your new address. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other contact information should always work, or you will lose leads.

So now you know what mistakes to look for in your small business website. If you need help designing (or redesigning) a stunning business website that brings in more online leads, we’re here to help! Get in touch with us or request a quote to learn more about our expert web design services.