There are many more than three reasons why a website could be considered unappealing to visitors. Really, there are a lot of bad websites out there with serious mistakes. And to make it worse, most of the website errors I’ve seen are on small business websites.
I have seen mistakes that range from poor, outdated designs on do-it-yourself sites that show only the ineptitude of the programmer and not the products, services or brand of the small business behind the site, all the way to confusing navigation that makes it impossible for the visitor to find anything.
Since this post would become a novel if I listed every small business website mistake I’ve seen, I’ve chosen three things that I see most often on small business websites. All three of these things are easy to fix. After you finish reading, go and check your own site, and if appropriate, fix the mistakes today.
It’s hard to find social icons/links.
You have taken the bold step and created a Twitter account. And you have a Facebook business page, and maybe even a YouTube account. Wonderful!
How about actually telling people that right on the home page! Don’t be shy about it. After all, you set these accounts up so your customers and prospects could actually connect with you. Display the icons for your social networks on your home page with links to your accounts so that your customers and prospects can do just that.
It’s very unclear what you actually do.
A website that doesn’t tell the visitor in the first paragraph what it is your company does is fairly pointless. Your website visitors may not know anything about your company when they first land on your website. There are any number of ways that they may have arrived on your page — a link from somewhere else, a referral from a friend, or even a search engine.
Regardless of how they found you, here they are, so you need to tell them what you’re all about. If they can’t see immediately what it is that you do and how you are going to solve their problem, then they won’t be staying on your site for very long.
There is no easy way to get in touch.
OK, so you have a “contact us” page. That’s great, assuming it actually has more than one way to get in touch. Some people still like to use the phone, so give them a phone number. Some prefer email, so make sure you have one listed. Some people don’t mind filling out a form, so use a web form that is simple to complete. The bottom line is that you should make it very obvious on the home page how someone visiting your website can get in touch with you.
If you are using your website to try to generate new leads, then have the phone number right next to your banner at the top of the page. Yes, I’m sure your designer will have kittens from that request. But what’s more important, a visitor who thinks: “Nice logo. Now how the heck do I get in touch with these guys?” Or one that says:”Oh, great! There is the phone number I need. I’m going to call them right now.”
So go check your website, and fix these things today. Your visitors and prospects will thank you for it.
Image credit: gunnar3000
Getting in touch. Exactly! This is a HUGE DEAL, and I’m appalled at how many times I come across a web site that doesn’t list a phone number or even have a CONTACT page in the navigation. Big no-nos! In fact, I wrote a blog post entirely centered around this topic earlier today, if I may be so bold as to shamelessly promote it? http://paragonmoon.com/2011/09/are-you-playing-hide-n-seek-with-your-small-business/ Glad you point out these things and I hope your article inspires people to rethink their strategy :)
Great post, Kristine. And some great ideas for making a website more functional! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! Yeah, lots of lessons to learn from this article. Kudos Simon! :)
My biggest pet peeve when it comes to small business websites is lack of PEOPLE. A company is not just a brand — there are always people, or at least one person, behind it.
I get very turned off by About pages that tell when a company was started and what they do, but never mention who founded the company, who works there, etc. I want to know WHO I will be dealing with before contacting a company, and often don’t if there is no clear idea who runs the company. Oh, and you get bonus points if you include a headshot on your About page.
These are great point and I can certainly think of a lot more. I think a website should be treated like a work in progress but I find a lot of times someone will throw up a site and walk away, not even bothering to check on it. So it is bound to look dated, especially if it does not have a blog. Great point on the ‘About’ page too, Alyssa. Might as well leave that page out if you want anonymity or don’t want to share.
It would be great to have some tips on the latest “look” for a modern website. Here are my impressions:
– clean, crisp colors
– large fonts
– the homepage should convey the impression that the company is dynamic/in the thick of things (with latest news, well known clients)
Great post, #3 is my pet peeve I will quickly leave a website if I can’t easily find the contact info. I also agree with Alyssa, especially if it is a small business I want to learn about the person (or people) behind the company and not just the topical about text.
It’s funny I saw this today, as I am actively seeking contributors to a journalistic site I am building and I was looking all over for this one writers contact, and I eventually gave up and tactilessly posted a ” get in touch with me” message on her Facebook business page.. On a different writer I wouldn’t have even bothered.. As far as phone # for my own site, has anyone every tried using google’s (now) free phone for business purposes?