10 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Need to Avoid

2012 has been a particularly active year for companies who are looking to redesign their websites.  New companies and startups are launching along the redeployment of sites from more established companies, and for a good reason: web technology is changing.  Different design trends rule the marketplace, and the way that sites are used and engaged with by visitors differs drastically from the way things worked even only a few years ago.

As a small business owner, you absolutely need to stay on top of these developments.  Realize that your site needs to be changed, not just in the way it looks and feels, but at a much more fundamental level.  Presentation elements need to be paid attention to, as well as technical elements like loading times.  The platform you choose for deploying your site matters as well; are updates easy for you to make, or ponderous, difficult changes?  All of these considerations play a part in deciding whether or not your site needs an update.  Here are ten possible concerns you can focus on regarding your own website to evaluate whether an update is something you need.

  • Does your site have good response stats? – As the share of internet bandwidth that passes through mobile devices has grown in recent years, making sure your site is accessible by all of them is of paramount importance.  Your site cannot get by just working for those on desktop systems, you must account for users on smartphones, tablet PCs, gaming consoles, laptops, and more.  If you cannot confidently say that your site is ready for viewing on any device, you may want to consider an upgrade.
  • Is your site difficult to update? – Are you regularly updating and adding content to your site?  If the answer is no, is one of the things that stops you the difficulty of doing so?  If that is the case, consider that your platform may be out of date (and your own skills may need a brush-up as well!).  Take a look at content management systems and how they can help you keep your site accurately updated conveniently and quickly.
  • Are parts of the site outdated? – Your website, just like your business, changes over time.  It isn’t that uncommon to find that there are certain parts of it which just aren’t working that well anymore.  If this is the case, get rid of them (Facebook Fan boxes, anyone?).  Make sure to honestly evaluate your site every once in a while to identify and remove these outdated elements.
  • Is your site loading time excessive? – In general, the trend has been to make sites smoother and sleeker, rather than increasing the amount of data they deliver.  In many cases, this is due to the limitations of devices, as mentioned above, but it can also apply to people whose carriers restrict the amount of data they can download.  A good rule of thumb for this is the 5 second rule; if your site takes longer than that to load on slow bandwidth, you should consider re-optimizing your content or reducing the amount of data needed to load your site.
  • Is your site engaging your visitors? – This one can be tough for small businesses to answer.  However, there are a variety of free tools available, such as Google Analytics, which can help you answer this question.  The important thing is that your site draws visitors in, and gets them to click on several pages.  This ensures that you will retain good rankings with the search engines.  If you aren’t engaging well with visitors, definitely look at a site redesign.
  • Are your trends healthy? – Along with making sure your site actively engages visitors, you need to ensure that a steady stream of new customers are visiting your site all the time.  Staying on top of these trends using proper SEO tools is important; if your site gets too ‘stale’ in the eyes of the search engines, your ratings and traffic will suffer.
  • When did you last overhaul your website? – If it has been more than three full years since you have made major changes to your site, it’s definitely time to look into design changes, and if it has been more than five you may want to look at changing fundamental elements of the site from the ground up.
  • Do all elements and pages on your site work? – This seems simple, but you would be surprised how often business owners let 404 elements pop up on their sites, when all it takes is some simple management and oversight to keep things running smoothly.  Content management again is your friend here, and can be implemented in a site redesign.
  • Are you engaging in SEO? – If you aren’t getting the traffic you want, you should consider investing in managed SEO services, that can help boost your SERPs, which should lead to higher sales for your business.  Coding the on-page elements of SEO properly is an important element of online marketing, and can help your business get the revenue it needs.  Consider a website update if you aren’t ranked where you want to me.
  • What year is displayed in your footer? – If it doesn’t show the current year, consider yourself busted.  You’ve let your site get woefully out of date, and become quite stale.  This sends a message to clients and visitors, and you should make every effort to prevent making easily avoidable mistakes like these.

So, if you are a small business owner, and your website fails in some of these critical tests, it is likely time for you to consider a partial or full redesign of your site.  If you believe you are ready for a redesign of your site or want us to help provide you detailed examples of areas in which you can improve, give us a ring today.  If you do so, you can count on a solid stream of revenue coming from your site for years to come.

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