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The changing web world: the "TOP SEVEN" business killers for your site

Written By: Daniel Meyerov

One of the best ways to take charge of your business’ web presence is to look at other businesses and – surprise – to often not do what they’re doing. Why do I say this? Well, as small business owners, many entrepreneurs create their web presence with an approach of what they want to say rather than focusing on the way end-users and potential customers best view and use a website, and then creating a business website for them.

The following list outlines some common misconceptions and stumbling blocks, and the very positive and simple website ‘fixes’ that you, as the savvy small business owner, will be implementing instead! This approach will shorten your learning curve to success and encourage best web practices for us all.

Common Website Mistakes

  1. Customers don’t mind a cheap-looking website
    • In today’s business environment, the first impression that a user has of your website is the impression they apply to your business. Don’t let it be a negative one – quality in presentation matters.  A company website represents the brand of the organization and provides users with their first and lasting impression regarding the quality, professionalism and credibility of the business that owns it. Evidence suggests that most internet users determine their acceptance of a website, and willingness to do business with the promoted company, based on these parameters within the first seven seconds of viewing the homepage.
    • What you can do:
      • Similar to having an effective retail or office space, ensure that your business website is clean, crisp and well-organized.
      • Your brand/logo should be clearly presented and you should be guiding visitors to the areas of your site that you want them to go.
      • Ensure your site navigation is simple and easy-to-use for your potential customers. 
      • Use imagery and visual cues to communicate with your site visitors
      • Ensure that your customers can easily get to the areas of the site you want them to go and what you want them to do (e.g. browsing through your Online Catalog or submitting your Contact Form)  
  2. Build it and they will come
      • Like anything in today’s cluttered marketplace, having a great product is not enough. Many website owners have spent tens of thousands of dollars in developing their websites and then simply submitted them to the major search engines and waited for the orders and calls to start rolling in (which never happened). Regardless of the site you create, you need to ensure that this ‘business asset’ is supported through ongoing marketing efforts and promotions.
      • What you can do:
        • Partner with organizations that will promote your offering as an offshoot to their own marketing campaigns. This gives you great free publicity and promotion and lets you gain marketing momentum in a ‘passive’ framework.
        • Actively promote and present your site, and the products/services you offer out to the market. This should include a number of aspects and components to your web marketing campaign.
        • Ensure that you are keeping your site ‘fresh’ and updated, with new content, special offers, imagery, and other enticements. To make this possible, you need to ensure that your site is built on an infrastructure that can allow you to make these changes quickly and easily. At no extra cost.
        • If you are selling products, ensure that your products are being promoted in other online outlets that are currently generating great traffic. Successful exposure and ‘click-throughs’ here will drive customers back to your site and your products.
        • Ensure that you work with a web company that gives you a range of web marketing tools in your site, so that you can use any set of these as you require, and that you can change them to keep your site fresh and topical, to attract repeat visits.
    • Take a ‘product-centric’ approach
      • If you focus your website on selling your product or service rather than on the benefits that you deliver to your customers through that product/service, you create a ‘distance’ between you and your potential buyers. The purpose of web business is to forge a strong relationship with your customers that tell them through your website, that you understand their problems and you are delivering solutions to those problems, rather than just selling units of an item.
      • What you can do:
        • Include tools and services on your website that facilitate your potential customers’ circumstances and desires. E.g. If you are a retailer targeting engaged couples planning their weddings, ensure that you offer a ‘Gift Registry’ tool on your website. This makes their life easier and also stimulates sales of your products as a result.  
        • Make sure you demonstrate and/or describe your product/service effectively. Embed videos and images of your product as well as descriptions, specifications and application information. Present your service actually being applied and the results that come from that.
        • Include aspects that allow your potential customers to feel confident in doing business with you and that establish your credibility and trust. This can be achieved by providing ‘Testimonials’ and ‘Product Rating’ and Review’ tools on your site to present other customers views and experience in doing business with you.
        • Present examples and imagery on your website, of your product in use or the benefits that buyers derive once they have purchased your product/service. 
        • When establishing your ‘keywords and phrases’ for your Search Engine Optimization, ensure that you focus on those ‘keywords and phrases’ that your potential customers typically use when searching for your type of product/service/company, and not the ‘keywords and phrases’ you would use internally within your organization.
    • Buyers are not concerned with a websites security or sense of ‘trustworthiness’
      • With the ‘detachment’ factor of distance purchasing, internet users are typically more concerned with security and ‘trustworthiness’ of doing business with a company on the web than in any other accepted business marketplace. 80%-90% of all cancelled purchase transactions occur at the point of credit card submission for payment. This is seen as a direct relationship with security and trustworthiness.
      • What you can do:
        • Ensure that your website utilizes a Secure (SSL) Certificate if you are offering product sales through an Online Catalog.
        • Ensure that you provide full contact information (e.g. phone, address, email, etc) for any potential customer to contact you, if required.
        • Outline your support and warranty options and methods (a money-back guarantee goes a long way in establishing a sense of comfort for potential buyers).
        • Ensure that your site is hosted on reliable servers and infrastructure (a business website must be available).
        • Follow industry accepted protocols and standards when it comes to online business. If you don’t know what they are, ensure that you align with a web company that can guide you through that process.
    • Users don’t mind long page downloads
      • Internet users want it all. i.e., stunning, ‘rich-media’ websites that have all of the information, web tools and imagery that creates an exciting and dynamic user experience and they don’t want to wait for it. The reality is that they are right.
      • With the vast amount of competition in almost every market, internet users do not have to wait for a slow site – they can simply go to the next one.
      • What you can do:
        • Keep your imagery and video file sizes as small as possible without presenting low-quality and distorted website pages and images.
        • Keep in consideration that if you add too many different items to your page, each item adds to the amount of ‘download’ that a site visitor has to do in order to see that page.
        • Before you launch a site ‘live’ on the internet, go through each of your pages and ask yourself if you would be happy to wait for the download time of each of your pages if you were looking to do business with a company online. If you are absolutely honest about it, this is normally a good gauge.  
    • Internet users read big blocks of text
      • The internet is a visual medium. Internet users will typically only read text if they want more detail on an aspect or item on your site and they are typically not comfortable doing large amounts of reading on a computer screen. Large blocks of text are very often ignored if there are no visual aspects such as imagery to capture their attention.
      • What you can do:
        • Use text as taglines and brief explanations to images and videos on the main pages of your site.
        • If you want to give users more information, let them link to a deeper page that has more text on it. BUT still ensure that the page is not ‘pure text’. Include images as well on these pages.
        • Break up your blocks of text into smaller paragraphs; add bullets and numbers for lists; add images between each 3-4 paragraph block to make these large blocks of text easier to read and digest.
        • Write your web content with shorter sharper sentences that deliver information. You can add in ‘marketing’ terms or emotionally connective language but do so sparingly.
    • Design your site without considering web-standards
      • Keep in mind the ‘web standards’ when you are creating your site. This also includes the level of technology and access to tools and resources that your target market has.
      • What you can do:
        • Ensure that your site is designed to a web-standard’ screen resolution. Today, this is typically at 1024 x 768 pixels or screen resolution, and it is moving towards 1280 x 1024 pixels or screen resolution in the future.
        • Consider the level of internet access your target market typically has when adding aspects into your website. For example, if your target markets do not typically use ‘broadband’ connections, avoid making them download memory intensive tools in order to get a clear understanding of your offering (e.g. videos). On slow connection speeds these often take a very long time to download so rather use static imagery.
        • Always make sure that your website follows sound ‘web principles’ in its layout. For example, as website work from the top-left corner down and across, a menu/navigation bar that is positioned on the right of your page may not be seen by users who are viewing your page at a lower screen resolution than that which you created your site for.

Daniel Meyerov is CEO of OnlyBusiness.com, a business platform and community that provide small business with all of the tools and services they need to be successful on the web.

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