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10 Critical Small Business Website Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

(Quick lesson: UX means user experience)

The design and usability of your website has got to be top notch in 2019, or it’s going to fail. There’s no middle ground.

This includes:

  • How your website looks
  • How easy and intuitive it is to use
  • How quickly it loads and responds to clicks
  • How quickly users can find what they’re looking for
  • If it works just as well on mobile, tablet and desktop screens

A website is no longer just a digital placeholder. Your website is a huge traffic magnet and conversion tool for your business. 

There’s plenty of advice about what to do out there - but all niches and businesses are different. What’s universal is what not do to. 

In effort to eliminate mistakes that are crippling the conversion rate on your website (and be brutally honest) here’s 10 critical UX mistakes in SMB websites at all costs.

UX mistake #1: busy, crammed websites and lean, empty websites

Remember the Space Jam website?

It’s too much. Almost everyone has visited a website that assaults them with images and information as soon as it loads, and that kind of content dump is straight up repellent. 

Not only is it abhorrent to the senses, it’s also too much to process. If a potential customer is so overwhelmed but the amount of information they receive as soon as they arrive, they probably won’t bother trying to figure it out and will press the back button.

It’s best to consult professional web designers when putting together your SMB website, but too many typefaces, tonnes of blurry, pixellated or cheesy stock images, busy colour palettes and COPY ALL IN CAPITALS WITH LOTS OF PUNCTUATION OR BUSY FORMATTING!!!!!!’s just too much. It's sloppy and unprofessional. “Less is more” is almost always true when it comes to web design.

That said, don’t careen to the other end of the spectrum into lean minimalism. A website with next to nothing on it might look modern and crisp, but it runs the risk of being unusable if your customer has no idea what to do once they've arrived.

Don’t be cryptic or stingy with content - tell you prospect what they want to know and make their user journey as easy as possible. Getting customers to guess what to do next will almost always result in them deciding it’s not worth the trouble and going elsewhere.

UX mistake #2: it takes far too long to load

How quickly do you get impatient when a website is slow to load? 

We bet it’s quicker than you think. According to KISSmetrics, almost 50% of consumers expect a webpage to load in under two seconds, and 40% straight up abandon websites than take more than three seconds.

Bottom line: your website loading time has got to be fast because customers just won’t wait.

Even if your website finally loads just before a customer clicks away, they’re still going to be annoyed with your business. The lagging loading time has already impacted how much they value and trust you as a business, and trust is notoriously difficult to win back once lost.

Remember, not everyone using your website has superfast fibre optic broadband - some might be in a field somewhere trying to view your website on their mobile. Ensure your website loading time is as refined as physically possible to ensure no one is dissuaded from your website before they’ve even arrived.

UX mistake #3: it’s too difficult to navigate

There’s a common theme here. Customers don’t like being made to work hard when they visit a website - everything should be as easy as possible to keep them happy. 

So when a potential lead lands on your website, your menu and website navigation should be intuitive and simple to understand. It’s best to avoid webpage titles that are cryptic or in-the-know - not all customers will get the jargon or the insider terminology. 

Keep everything simple and obvious. The quicker a customer can locate what they want on your website, the happier they will be.

UX mistake #4: the calls to action (CTA) don’t work, or aren’t there at all

Speaking of making the user experience as seamless as possible, making sure the calls to action (or CTA) are well-written, well-designed and easy to spot and act on are crucial in getting your viewers to do what you want.

Prompting them to take the action you want is key - never assume they will figure it out on their own. If you want them to sign up to your newsletter, ask them to. If you want them to view a product page, make it easy to do. If you want them to participate in a competition or poll, direct them to it and explain in simple terms how they can do so.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but effective CTAs make a huge difference in successful converting customers. 

UX mistake #5: the design isn’t responsive or mobile optimised

Have you ever tried to view a website on your mobile, and have to zoom out as far as possible and scroll annoyingly from side to side to see the content? Or perhaps everything suddenly became tiny and completely illegible?

Those websites were not optimised for mobile. This means that the website content isn’t responsive - it won’t automatically reshuffle and resize when viewed on different sized screens, making the content awkwardly or impossibly proportioned and difficult to read.

Mobile is quite often preferred over other devices and can’t be ignored. In 2015, Google announced a major update that penalised websites that hadn’t gotten around to optimising their content for mobile, and has only strengthened those algorithms since.

Optimising your website for mobile can make all the difference to your Google rankings, and all the difference to your website traffic.

UX mistake #6: contacting you is difficult

Web forms are fantastic for capturing customer information and cultivating leads - but if they’re the only way a potential customer can contact you, you’re running the risk of alienating a portion of your leads.

Not everyone likes web forms. Sometimes they just want to give you a call and ask a quick question, or hop onto your social media to have a scroll and get a sense for you and your business.

Contact forms are crucial and should feature on your SMB website - but so should an email, a phone number and links to your social media platforms. This means customers can get help when they want it instead of being compelled to hand over information they weren’t ready to.

Don’t forget to include your address if you have a physical store - you’d be surprised how many eCommerce websites forget to include that.

UX mistake #7: the website contains black hat SEO techniques

Has anyone ever told you that the secret to great SEO is to hide keywords in the background and use them as often as the English language will physically allow in your website? 

That person is encouraging “black hat SEO” or "keyword stuffing” - old-school underhanded SEO tactics that worked back when Google wasn’t as smart and people could cheat the system.

Not only is keyword-stuffed content weird and clunky to read (and therefore terrible for UX) - if Google catches you doing these now, and it will eventually, you’ll get a penalty you may never recover from. It’s 100% not worth it. 

UX mistake #8: there’s no SEO at all

SEO is a complex, multifaceted strategy that can be overwhelming for people who don’t live and breathe it. That’s fine - but ignoring SEO is not.

We’re not talking paid advertising, that’s a different topic. But aiming to rank well organically and garner website traffic should be one of the primary aims of any SMB website.

Talk to your web agency about organic keywords, titles, meta descriptions (the snippet of text that appears on a Google search under a website title), alt tags for images and broken and dead links.

If you have the time and resource, consider investing in quality backlinks for your website. Backlinks are SEO gold-dust.

UX mistake #9: the website isn’t up to date and secure

Data hacks and breaches are in the news far too often. The Internet can be a scary place - but there are some simple safeguards you can put in place to deter those kind of website breaks.

Ensure your website is secured - you’ll know it is if the “http” part of your URL has an S on the end, like ours - Google also keeps an eye on secure websites and will raise a red flag if yours is not.

UX mistake #10: worst case scenario - not backing up your website 

You’ve invested the time, resource and brainpower into making sure your SMB website is free of these UX mistakes and is running smoothly and invitingly for anyone who lands there.

What do you do if you wake up and your website is gone?

It can happen. Not only does your website technology need constantly updating after it’s launched to keep up with modern Google algorithms and UX best practises, it needs to be backed up in case something goes wrong and the website goes down or gets deleted.

There’s little point in making your website work like a dream if it’s not backed up - just in case. The cost of rebuilding everything is small fry in comparison to backup costs - trust us.

Posted on August 25th 2019

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