- My website is the most technologically advanced.
- My website looks great – or—
- My website generates a consistent stream of new sales leads.
It is not always possible to have everything so it is important to make the choice upfront before making the first step in the design process.
Assuming sales leads are the most important then three key items need to be in place. First, the website must receive visitors (traffic), second a relationship must be established with those visitors and, at some appropriate point, visits must be converted to leads, or better still, sales.
Only a small proportion of those reaching most small business websites will immediately take action and call. Most, will return several times before making a purchase while some may click away to quickly check out alternatives before returning and making contact. It is therefore important to stay in touch with the majority who do not convert within the first few minutes or hours.
Attention spans are short so don’t waste time on a company history lesson. Simply tell prospects what you can do for them and why they should choose you in as few words as possible. Don’t clutter the home (or landing page) with too many graphics and leave plenty of white space.
Valuable, engaging content is your most valuable website asset. It is important to build credibility and give prospects a reason to return. Websites that are graphic intensive with little text are increasingly a waste of time and money.
A website that is updated often with new content is likely to secure a higher position on the search engines which will bring in more traffic.
After all the hard work (and cost) involved in generating website traffic it is a waste if they are lost within a few seconds simply because they cannot find their way around the site. Website navigation should be as clear as possible and links between pages should be added wherever appropriate to guide the prospect along a desired path.
Design is great but if your prospects do not get what you offer and what makes you different within seconds then they are lost. If they have to spend more than a few seconds trying to figure out how to retrieve the information they need from your site you have potentially lost them forever.
Search Engine Marketing
A website is of little use if it cannot be found when a prospect types a relevant phrase into the search engines. Unfortunately best practice search engine marketing takes time, experience and effort. Despite what some may wish to claim there are no quick fixes hence the activity can be relatively expensive. It is therefore a mistake to blow the entire budget on the website design and development without keeping something back for the search engine marketing activity.
Credibility And Quality Signals
It is important not to underestimate the power of ‘social proof’ (Dr R. Caildini). Testimonials, recommendations, case studies and quality signals such as approvals or qualifications are key elements that persuade a prospect to choose one business ahead of the other. It is a major mistake to fail to add such items to any small business website.
Call To Action
One of the most common and most important small business website design mistakes to avoid is the failure to add appropriate calls to action. Make it as obvious as possible what you would like the prospect to do next.
Many of the above elements are interlinked and all can be built into a website design given a little time and effort. A website design specialist will talk all day about the technicalities of website design. A SEM specialist can often become side tracked by keywords and forget the prospect experience. A graphic designer tends to be interested in graphics, not the all important content. It is therefore important to continually refer back to the main purpose of the website.