As a small business, your website will often give the first impression to many customers. Many people who come to your site will have never heard of your business, so you need to give them a reason to stick around and show them the value you can offer.

Established brands already have a reputation and connection with audiences but as a small business, you have to fight to make sure your site immediately hooks in users and gives a great impression that won’t be forgotten.  

If your website is not getting the response you hoped for you, may have fallen prey to some common web design mistakes small businesses make:

1. Your Website Has Too Much Going On

A common mistake small businesses make is cluttering their website pages with too much content. You want to tell everyone everything that your business can offer, but this leads to your users getting confused.

The best website designers for small businesses will advise that simplicity is the key to a successful website. If a user clicks on to your site looking for something, they want to immediately find it, and not have to wade through a sea of other content. If it takes them too long to find what they are looking for, they will go to another site that allows them to find that information in an easy way.

Think about the key message your business has to say – what’s your value proposition and what are your USP’s? Then display content that is relevant to this. You may offer other services or products as well, but you can introduce these to the visitor at a later stage, as they are not going to be the main reason they have visited your site.

For example, Hubspot has created a great simplistic home page that has no distractions for the user and conveys one clear message. Need more help? Click here.

2. You Are Not Using Clear and Effective CTA’s

Your Calls To Action are the key to pushing users through your sales funnel. They give your visitor an action to take and shows them where to go next on their buyer’s journey.  

Think about all the things you’ve purchased, signed up for or downloaded online – Spotify, Google Drive, Netflix, Dropbox, etc. They are likely all the result of a great CTA.

If the interesting and actionable copy or design of a CTA button hadn’t caught your attention, or guided you smoothly through the sign-up process, you would probably be using a lot fewer online apps that you do currently.

For example, when you reach the Spotify’s homepage it’s very clear that their main goal is to get you to sign up for their service. They use a simple CTA – “Get Spotify Free” – to give the user one clear action that tells them exactly what they will get when they click the button. Of course, the opportunity here is to upsell the paid version, but it’s a great way of getting basic lead details to add to your marketing database.

3. Not Thinking About Who Your Target Audience is

Creating your first website is an exciting time. You have probably seen a bunch of websites online that you want to draw inspiration so you can get the site you’ve been dreaming of.

However, it’s always important to remember that although this is your site, you are not your business’s target audience. The flashy gimmicks, animations, colours, fonts, and images you may want on your small business website may not be the type of design that would most appeal to your audience and get them to convert into customers.

One of the trends today is by using minimal and simplistic design and content. This means you can easily convey the message your business is trying to put across, and visitors can immediately understand what it is that you do.  

Before you sit down to start building your website you should create a document that clearly outlines who your ideal customer is – commonly known as a ‘buyer persona’ or ‘avatar’. This way you can have someone in mind when you are creating your website, and as every element is put in place you can ask yourself “does this add value to my customers?”

4. Not Including Contact Info

This one seems simple enough but you would be surprised how many small businesses and startups leave off basic information like this when setting up a website.

If you have set your site up yourself rather than using a website design agency, then you may have missed off a few key things on your site that the best website designers for small businesses know to do instinctively.

The moment a customer makes the decision to buy your product or service it is crucial that your contact info is readily available to them. A customer should be able to find it without them having to spend time searching through your site as they will get frustrated and leave, and you will also lose a sale.

Your “Contact Us” page should always be a simple click away in your navigation and in the footer of every page – think about adding your phone number or an ‘email us’ link in the header too.

5. Slow Page Load Times

In the excitement of setting up your new site, you can get sucked into the fancy layouts and animations that provide great aesthetic, with the background stuff like site speed coming as an afterthought. But to create a great website that your users will enjoy, you need to make load times a priority.

Poor page load times make for poor user experience. When was the last time you waited more than a couple of seconds for a webpage to load? Probably years ago before high-speed internet was so readily available, not just at home but on the go with smartphones as well.

NN Group reported that 47% of visitors expect a site to load in under 2 seconds, with 40% of visitors the leaving the site if it takes more than 3 seconds.

If your site is loading slowly you could be losing almost half your traffic before they even see any of your content. This means all the money you have invested in great aesthetics, amazing content and so on has effectively been wasted. What’s the point in having an amazing site if it doesn’t load fast enough for anyone to see it?

If you don’t have background knowledge in design or development you might not even be aware that your site is slow, as it can be difficult for site owners to impartially tell whether their speeds are good or bad.

As a general rule of thumb, page load speeds fall into 3 categories:

  • < 1 second: High five! Your site is super speedy. Take note though – this kind of speed occurs with either a very basic site or heavy investment in server optimisation.
  • < 2.5 seconds: This is an acceptable level that shouldn’t have a negative effect on user experience – a good developer / host should have no issue delivering that speed.
  • > 2.5 seconds: Sorry to break it to you, but your site is the online equivalent of a snail…!

Want to know how fast your site is loading? There are some great free tools out there like Pingdom and GTMetrix that can give you results to a page speed test in seconds. Be aware though that they use different parameters to measure this and can mark you down on things that don’t hinder the important ‘Time To First Byte’ (when the users see the site appear) which is the benchmark really. If it seems rapid, it’s probably fine!

6. Unsecure Site or Payment Gateways

When setting up your website you probably encountered people referring to HTTPS and SSL Certificates. As a small business owner, the budget for your website might have been a bit tight, and you may have decided to forgo one altogether.

However, as an online business, you need to give your visitors a secure method of entering their personal and possibly financial information when contact or paying you. An SSL certificate gives you little padlock in the URL bar of the browser your visitor is using and helps assure them that your website is secure.

For e-commerce sites, this is even more important as people input payment information on your site. It is vital that you not only set up an SSL certificate but that you get a secure payment gateway as well.

We recommend using a verified third-party service such as WorldPay or PayPal, that can be simple to set up and due to their established brands will help your visitors know what their financial details are safe.

7. Out of Date Content

A trap many small business owners fall into is setting up a website and then just leaving it there thinking it will generate leads on its own. Websites need to be regularly updated with new content.

This doesn’t mean you need to fork out a bunch of cash and get a new site every few months but you do need to put new content on your site every few weeks. This can be as simple as creating a blog post – which you can do yourself and is totally free.

Posting new and relevant content to your site on a regular basis lets your customers, as well as search engines, know that your site is still active and maintained. To maintain a site not only should new content be added but old content should be reviewed.

If a customer gets to your site and it shows products that you don’t offer any more or has Christmas imagery still up half way through January it tells them that you don’t really care about your site and you shouldn’t either.

For customers, new and updated content helps assure them that you are a legitimate business and that if they contact you they will get a response.

For search engines, they send out crawlers and are constantly searching for new content to index. By posting new content you show the search engine you are active, and therefore can provide value to their searchers.


How Can You Avoid These Mistakes?

Perform regular audits of your website

Your site is a valuable sales tool and should be treated as such. Remember to regularly check on your site to add new and relevant content as well as asses how old content is performing.

If a page is not doing well, perhaps the CTA needs changing or the content is out of date. If you are getting a high bounce rate on your site check that your SSL certificate has not expired or do a page speed test with one of the free tools available.

Websites need to be maintained and often small amounts of work in updating content or improving user experience can have significant impacts on traffic and conversions.

Hire a design agency for small businesses

Great website design and cost-effectiveness are not mutually exclusive. When you set up your site or if you are currently looking to launch a site for your small business you may think that you don’t have the budget to hire an agency. Well, that’s probably, not true.

Hiring the best web design agency for your small business can often be a lower cost than you think, and many agencies (like our own) offer affordable payment plans to help small businesses get started.

A design agency can provide invaluable insight and ensure that your website doesn’t end up going live with silly mistakes that will cost you traffic and leads. A website designed by a professional team of designers and developers is built with SEO and user experience in mind, resulting in a much greater ROI and guaranteeing that your website will become a valuable part of your business in generating leads and sales.