Website Design Articles

10 Mistakes to Avoid with your Small Business Website

If your small business website contains any of these common design mistakes, it might be time to hire a new website designer

1. Using too many graphics

A web page should load in a reasonable amount of time. If you use too many graphics, or graphics that are not scaled and saved in the most efficient format, your pages will take longer to load. Impatient users may bail out and go to another site. Clean and fast should be the goal. You can usually make a very nice layout using HTML and CSS without the whole page being a sliced up graphic. 

The most common web graphic formats are gif and jpg, with gif being used effectively for graphics with limited colors, and jpg being used for larger images or images with a wider color palette.  The trick to using gif images is to eliminate unneeded colors and restrict the palette to as few colors as needed.  Jpg images can be optimized by reducing the quality of the image as much as possible while still retaining the detail. 

2. Using non-standard color schemes

Just because it looks cool to you doesn't mean everyone will find it easy to read and appreciate your psychedelic color scheme. Try out your color choices on a mix of people before you get too far into your design. 

Don't turn people away just because they have trouble reading your site. There are colors for backgrounds and text that perform much better than others colors for some types of sites, do your research first! 

3. Using animated graphics

You want your visitors to concentrate on the content of your site. If your pages look like the arcade at an amusement park with animated gifs everywhere they may never get to the part of the site that you want them to, such as the "buy" button. A little animation goes a long way. 

4. Using Flash Splash Screens

Flash is big these days and very useful for a lot of tasks, however, one thing you should avoid is a big flash welcome page as the default page of your web site. Most people find it very annoying to sit through it, or to have to click a skip button.  Your goal is to get the user into your site as quickly as possible and maximize their short attention span.  Flash screens are an obstacle to the user and many visitors will simply click out of your site rather than click into it.

5. Not using cross-browser compatible code

Always check out your site on the main browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, Opera) a PC and Mac if possible. You'd be surprised how each web browser has its quirks. Sometimes a page will look really bad or completely wrong in one browser and you'll have to spend time correcting the problem. But, you won't know unless you test it... don't rely on your visitors to tell you. 

6. Leaving broken links

This one should be obvious, check you site's navigation and all the links occasionally. There are some tools available to do this for you if you have a really large site. 

7. Using a disjointed layout

Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Have someone who's not familiar with your site use your site. Ask them to purchase something, or find the page for sending in questions, etc. Watch them as they work. Listen to what they have to say and fix your site to make it work better. 

8. Incomplete contact information

Keep the contact information on your site is current and complete. Do this as soon as anything changes. 

9. Using text as graphics instead of real text

Font styles are somewhat limited for web pages. Some people want their site to look really good with fonts like you can use in word processing packages. So how do you do that? You can make it in Adobe Photoshop or another graphic package and save out your text as images. This works really well as far as looking good, however, because images are naturally larger than text, the pages will load slower. But, the biggest drawback is not size, it's that you have your text, which tells what your site is about, out of reach of search engine spiders. 

This is a problem because if you rely on search engines to drive traffic to your site, the search engine spiders can't read images.  You are better of using "real text" instead of images and using CSS to format the text.  CSS allows you to control the size, font, color, spacing and a host of other attributes of your text and spiders will be able to read it. 

10. Having an out-of-date site

As things change you should modify your site to reflect those changes. As you add new products or announce new products, you should add them to your site. As people change in your organization, you should update your site.  Put a blog on your site and update it every day or so. Your web site can be a tremendous asset in your marketing toolkit, but only if it's kept current and fresh.  Remember, search engines love fresh original content, and if your site is updated frequently, the search engines will visit more often. 

These are a few tips for designing an effective small business website.  If your current site has one or more of these problems, contact us to see how we can rejuvenate your website and drive more traffic to it.