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9 Big Mistakes Small Businesses Make on Their Websites

May 15, 2023

Did you know that the average Internet user spends 6 hours and 42 minutes online every day? That equates to about 100 days a year spent online.

If you’re not meeting your customers online with an effective, well-packaged website, you might be losing out on your most lucrative sales channel. 

 And I’m not just saying that to inspire FOMO.

 But think about it from a strategic business and marketing perspective:

 Is your website actually serving you? Is it fetching you leads, is it telling your brand story, getting people interested in your products and services?

 Is your website actually helping your business?

 As a small or medium business or a startup, if you're not leveraging every touchpoint and every channel of communication you've put some effort into, then that's precious money and time down the drain. It's also potential business down the drain. 

 A wise digital designer I met once said, 'A website is like a 24/7 salesperson for your business – make sure it says, shows and does the right things, and you’re selling 24/7.’

 So I thought I'd do a quick roundup of the biggest, most common mistakes that I have seen business owners make on their websites so that you can run a quick check on yours. 

Here's a list of the nine biggest mistakes that most small and medium business websites make:


1.    Your website lacks overall flow and consistency


The pages of your website, the colours, look and feel, and the overall flow of information doesn't sit well together.

 This often happens when businesses are growing fast and adding new products and services to their portfolio. And just like that, one makeshift page at a time, companies end up with a disjointed website that lacks consistency.

Instead of creating a seamless user experience that ultimately leads your website visitor to contact you, or better yet, buy from you, you leave them confused and thrown off the user journey.


2.    Your Tone of Voice is all wrong (or you have no defined Tone of Voice at all)


Your website and social media pages are digital representatives of your business.

Just as you would train a customer service rep, a receptionist, or any other business representative to speak with customers, you need to ensure your website follows that same consistent tone of voice (ToV) too. 

What kind of customers do you want to attract? How do you need to speak to them to connect with them? What is your brand personality?

If you’re a serious health-tech startup, you don’t want to say 'Give us a ring!' on your Contact Us Page. Doesn't fit.

Just as you don't want to say, 'It would be our pleasure to serve you' if you're a young, rebellious energy drink brand. Doesn't fit either.

Getting ToV wrong can be a painful mistake, but worse yet is having no defined ToV at all – the standard, boring About Us, Work with Us and Contact Us pages might be safe, but they’re so passé!

In a fight for attention, safe and standard definitely lose.

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3. Grammar and spelling mistakes


Eek! This one isn't just a personal pet peeve, but a mistake that can turn a lot of visitors off.

When you skip the time and effort, or don't seek the help you need to get grammar and spelling right on your website, you're making a big statement about the quality of your work.

Now I know there are businesses where grammar and spelling aren't skills that matter, and I know there are customers who couldn't care less.

But if running a simple spell check can help, then why not, right?

Run your website by three to four people outside of your business for a quick quality check on these little things.

As Walt Disney puts it, 'There's no magic in magic, it's all in the details.' 


4.     Your core information is hard to find


Are you burying your unique selling proposition on a product page that is three-clicks away from the home page?

Big mistake.

Wear your uniqueness, your core benefits, and the reasons someone should choose you loud and proud!

Ensure that all the biggest, more important pieces that will drive someone to decide to work with you are featured clearly on the front page or a landing page that your visitors are likely to land on directly.


5.    You have no, too few, or unclear 'Call to Action' buttons


Even if your website is meant to serve as a source of information, and nothing else, you need to give your visitors the chance to take some action – drop you a message, follow you on social media, send in an enquiry, share, or buy.

If these calls-to-action aren’t clear, visible, and compelling, you might as well be a static poster or a billboard, right?  

If someone's landed on your website, they're the stranger at a big social event that has said 'Hello.' Not allowing them to interact and take the conversation forward is, well, rude (to say the least!). 

Not to mention, it’s potentially an opportunity lost. What if that visitor could have been your next big client? 

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6.     Vague or Incorrect Contact Information


Ok, nothing inspires a bigger lack of confidence than getting your own phone number or email address wrong…

Do I even need to explain why this one’s a bummer? Let’s just say your competition probably got it right. 

Unless your website visitor desperately wants your products and services, and you are their only shot at success, they're not going to look you up on the phone book if you get your contact number wrong.


7.    You’re not collecting email addresses


Your website visitors are busy people with a lot going on in their lives. They might not happen to need you precisely when they happen to stumble into your website, but something interested them and brought them there – so take advantage of that precious attention!

Capture their email addresses, so that you can show up on their radar another time, even if you’re not the solution they go with just then.

Try and keep contact collection forms simple with just a few necessary, relevant fields – Name, Email, and perhaps one or two more that are most relevant to your business.


8.    Your page names are creative but unclear


Feel like you've gone a little overboard in your effort to stand out? Creativity is a huge part of web design, but never at the cost of functionality.

I once got to a restaurant website that didn't have a 'Menu' tab anywhere. I called them up, and they said, 'The menu is on our website – it's called 'Mama's Faves!’

As much as ‘Mama’s Faves’ might delight Mama, it didn't lead me to the menu. On a restaurant website.

Core product. Umm...only product.  

While you don't always have to use the tried and tested, you should think about how your words are landing.

Is the message getting across? If it isn't, you need a rewrite.

And the last and perhaps the biggest of these big mistakes:

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9.    You have way too much copy on your website


Too long, didn't read or 'TL;DR' as the kids call it is a real thing in today's byte-sized world.

It is so easy to go on and on about your business, product, or service. Long paragraphs running unbroken across your screen (or several scroll-lengths down) are a no-no.

If you have a lot to say, and all crucial information (it usually isn't), then be sure to use the deliberate information hierarchy of a newspaper article – Most important information first, finer details to follow.

Typically, you want to lead with the benefit to your website visitor. People like to know exactly what they are going to get when they choose to go with you.

If you have a lot of technical and support information that is essential to share, consider a blog, a resource hub, or a help section designed to contain all of that literature.

The inverted pyramid structure used as a common format in journalism is your best bet for heavier content pieces.  


Now that you have your list, how do you test your website for these, and are you necessarily the best judge?

 Perhaps not.

The best way to evaluate your website is to get a bunch of users (potentially from your target group) to jump on and use your website. 

You can share a questionnaire with them, or get on a web call, and have them share their screen with you. Ask them questions in that setting and get some real-time feedback.

Everything you build within your business, you're creating for your customers. A little attention and a few fixes can ensure that you get this fundamental digital piece right.

Remember, your website is your virtual sales rep on the Internet - a place where the average person spends 6 hours and 42 minutes a day.

Can you afford to get it wrong?


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