More than 80 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase. And while small businesses are increasingly embracing digital marketing to reach their customers, it’s not enough to simply have a website.
“Your website should give your customers what they’re looking for, and also help your business achieve its goals,” says Bridget Aymar, Senior Content Strategist at Deluxe. She often works with small businesses to solve their website woes.
Here, she outlines the most common mistakes small business owners make with their websites.
1. Your hours, address and phone number are hidden
To design an easy-to-use website, you must first determine what your visitors want to learn or do. Your audience’s goals will vary depending on countless factors, including the type of products or services you offer, the competitiveness of your industry and your pricing.
But there is some information that virtually all website visitors want to find immediately: your hours of operation, address and phone number. This is especially true for restaurants, retail, service providers and any other businesses that customers visit in person or make appointments with.
No phone number in sight
While visually appealing, this salon fails to display its hours, address and phone number in a place where website visitors can immediately find it.
Ensure your hours, phone number and address are prominently displayed on every page of your website, preferably in the header.
2. Your content is minuscule on mobile
Always consider how your website looks and functions on small screens. Research shows that millions of consumers use their smartphones to research products and services every day. More searches take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers. To capture and serve those searchers, your website should be responsive: Your content should automatically scale to the size of the screen it appears on.
Too tiny to tap
This hardware store offers plenty of useful information on their homepage and locations page. But on a mobile device, it’s difficult to consume: When viewed on a phone, the text is too small to read and the links are too tiny to tap. This provides a frustrating experience for audiences looking for the nearest hardware store.
To test whether your website works for mobile, access it on a phone and check whether it meets these requirements:
- Is the text big enough to read at arm’s length?
- Can you see the navigation without zooming in or out?
- Can you tap all the buttons and links without zooming in?
- Do the images appear correctly?
- Is the most important content appearing first on the page?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your website is likely difficult to navigate on a mobile device.
“If your website looks like a jumbled mess on a phone, you’re missing out on a massive audience,” says Aymar. “Consumers expect every website to look perfect on their phone. If a business doesn’t deliver, that customer will spend their money elsewhere.”
3. Your information is outdated
Think of your website like your digital storefront: It’s the first impression customers make with you, and you want it to appear kept-up and cared for. Depending on the type of information on your website, you should be making updates at least monthly. You should continually refresh event information, product availability and pricing, seasonal promotions, hours of operation and images.
“If visitors stumble onto a page listing events that passed weeks ago or ‘summer sale’ promotions in October, they may assume that all the information on your website is outdated,” says Aymar.
Events from the past
Consider this example from a restaurant that still includes an event from 2014 on their website, years after it’s passed.
4. You don’t answer visitors’ questions
Are there questions that customers call to ask you on a regular basis? The answers should be easy to find on your website.
Here are some common questions that customers may have about your business:
- Are you open on holidays?
- Do you offer delivery or in-home consultations?
- Do customers need to make an appointment?
- What should customers do to prepare for their visit?
- What’s your return policy?
- Do you have any discounts or specials today or this week?
- Do you offer discounts or specials for children, seniors, etc.?
- Are beginners/first-timers welcome?
- Do you cater to groups?
Study your customers to determine which questions they ask most frequently. Then create content that addresses their confusions and concerns.
5. There’s too much text
Your audience will not read your website in its entirety. Instead, they will scan for the information they need. If you greet your visitors with huge blocks of text that look more like a novel than a webpage, many will give up and leave.
“It’s not true that nobody reads online. We spend hours every week reading websites,” says Aymar. “But too many businesses dump hundreds of words onto their websites and dare their visitors to sift through it to find what they need.”
This local business provides scuba diving lessons for first-time divers. But for anyone new to diving, the website is an intimidating glob of text.
Make it easy for your customers to scan your content:
- Use images to tell a story.
- Break up text into bullet points, and use subheadings whenever possible.
- Write your website in a human voice. Avoid using fancy words or industry jargon.
- Use Hemingway App to test your text. This free tool alerts you to run-on sentences and points out areas where your writing is too long or full of jargon.
If your website passes these points, but fails to serve your customers or generate business, it’s time to hire a pro.
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