Creating a website for your business is one of the most important tasks you’ll tackle – and technically speaking, it can be pretty simple and straightforward. But once you realize just how much your website matters to the success of your business, everything suddenly seems a lot more complicated.
A well-built website will help you build your brand, generate leads, drive conversions, and stake your claim in the digital marketing landscape. Both on and offline, setting up a business website can offer a long list of benefits. And with the right tools (and ideally, some professional support), learning how to make a business website is doable, even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy. In other words: you can do this!
But before you dive right in, there are a few things you should know first… 10 things, to be exact. We’ve created a guide to the 10 biggest mistakes business owners make when setting up a website, giving you a list of what not to do as you build yours. Avoid these common pitfalls, and you’ll be on track to creating a high-quality website that propels your business towards growth.
1. Neglecting to create a responsive website
In our modern world of mobile devices, online users don’t just appreciate a responsive website; they expect it. You may have heard the term thrown around before, but exactly what is a responsive website?
A responsive or mobile-friendly website can adapt to various viewing environments to provide the best possible user experience. So, whether a user is viewing your website on their laptop, smartphone, or tablet, the site will automatically adjust its layout to ensure easy, hassle-free usability.
We’ve all experienced the annoyance of trying to browse a website that’s not responsive, with a layout that’s too big or clunky to fit on the screen of our mobile devices. And if you’re anything like most people, you’re pretty quick to leave a non-mobile-friendly site in favor of a better-designed website from a competitor. In fact, 85% of users say that a brand’s mobile website should be as good as (if not better than) their standard desktop site (Sweor). Even Google expects a mobile-friendly design, and your search rankings will take a hit if you don’t have one.
This means that whether you’re using a website builder platform or hiring a professional website developer, making sure you get a responsive design is essential.
2. Failing to customize the website theme
Having access to all those free themes can be a major perk if you’re setting up a business website using a content management system. These pre-made themes put an aesthetically pleasing and functional website design within easy reach, significantly reducing the amount of time and experience needed on your end.
However, it’s not quite as simple as choosing a theme and calling it a day. Customizing the website theme to align with your unique branding is key, especially because you don’t want a generic site design that looks exactly like thousands of others out there. Today’s online users are smarter than ever before, and you had better believe that they can spot a basic website theme a mile away – do you really want to risk ruining your chance at a good first impression? Research shows that you only have about 0.05 seconds to impress a user because that’s how long it takes for them to make a snap judgment about your website (and, by extension, your brand).
There’s no denying the convenience of website themes, but customizing them is hugely important if you want to create a professional-looking final product. And if that task is beyond your tech or design skill level, don’t hesitate to call in the experts.
3. Getting wrapped up in the websites of your competitors or industry leaders
It’s always a good idea to check out the competition, and that includes taking a long look at their websites. There are many opportunities to learn from your local competitors’ websites and those belonging to large-scale corporations in your industry niche.
That being said, don’t assume that you can recreate their online success with a “copy/paste” approach. It might be tempting to try to replicate a high-performing website, but web design is just one of the factors that can contribute to impressive rankings. For example, if one of your competitors has an established presence in the market (and has had one for several years), that can absolutely help keep their page high on the search rankings. So, even if you were to copy every last detail of their website, your results wouldn’t necessarily be the same.
Instead, take note of the aspects of successful websites that work, as well as those that don’t. Then, think about how to make a website for a business that is entirely your own while incorporating some similar strategies – ultimately, it’s all about balance.
4. Forgetting about readability
You already know that the actual text content on your website should be made up of well-written copy, but readability is also largely about how that text looks, not just what it says. Users should be able to easily read all website text without any visual distractions.
A few rules of readability include:
- Make thoughtful use of consistent font sizes: A good rule of thumb is to stick to a maximum of three to four different font sizes, relying on size to indicate importance. Use larger fonts to tell users to pay extra attention to specific content and smaller font sizes for more detailed, in-depth information.
- Stick to simple, classic fonts: Even if certain “fun” fonts catch your eye, opt for fonts that prioritize readability over personality. Generally, sans-serif fonts are the best, most reader-friendly option for web design.
- Contrast is key: Your website’s color palette should be about more than just aesthetics; readability should also be considered. Contrasting colors ensure that your background and text hues aren’t too close for comfort.
5. Misunderstanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO)
A solid SEO strategy is the basis of any website’s success, and search ranking is almost always among the top goals of any site creator and business owner. However, there aren’t any hidden secrets to instantly achieving top rankings; rather, SEO takes time, strategy, and a certain amount of financial investment. You can’t cut corners, no matter how hard you try.
Instead, start with the top keyword you’d like your website to rank for and optimize accordingly. From there, you can continue to build your SEO strategy from the ground up. Here are a few SEO tips to keep in mind:
- Skip keyword stuffing and create quality, long-form content instead: Back in the early days of SEO, it wasn’t unusual for website builders to stuff as many keywords as possible into the content. This resulted in content that didn’t make much sense and wasn’t particularly enjoyable or useful for users. But now, Google rewards websites that take the time to create content that actually serves the needs of users, not the search engine. The algorithm will reward you for quality, so focus on developing content that your users will appreciate.
- Make use of heading tags: Heading tags (indicated by <h1>, <h2>, and so on) matter more than you might think. Not only do they add structure to your web pages, but headings also make it easier for Google bots (and readers) to consume and interpret content.
- Always include a call-to-action: Let’s say an online user reads a top-notch blog article you’ve written, and they really love the content – what now? Unless you close the deal with a call-to-action (CTA), it could all end there. Make sure you direct users to take a specific action, such as contacting you, purchasing a product/service, signing up for a newsletter, etc. CTAs spur conversions and they also provide a sense of direction for Google.
6. Going overboard with pop-ups
Have you ever been on one of those websites that just inundate you with pop-up messages? Odds are, you didn’t spend much time trying to browse the site because you got tired of closing out pop-up boxes over and over.
Even though pop-ups can be useful for both the user and your business, it’s important to use them carefully. Don’t go pop-up crazy because that will have the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for. Aim for one pop-up that asks a user to complete one action, like joining a mailing list. (Pro tip: it never hurts to offer something in return for these requests, such as a discount code!). Figure out what user action provides the greatest payoff for your business, and then use that as a jumping-off point – and leave it at that.
7. Settling for slow loading times
Did you know that close to 50% of online users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less? So, if your website is taking even a fraction of a second longer than that, you need to make some serious changes. One of the most common causes of slow load times is images with overly large files sizes. As beautiful as those high-resolution images may be, they could be detracting from the user experience, your SEO, and your overall success.
Google offers a free tool for checking webpage loading speed, so pinpointing a problem takes just a few moments. We promise it’s worth it. And if you’re still not convinced, here’s an eye-opening statistic: slow-loading sites end up costing retailers more than $2.5 billion in lost sales every year.
8. Making it difficult for users to find your contact information
There should be minimal effort involved in locating your business contact information on your website. And yet, so many businesses completely forget this incredibly basic piece of the puzzle. No matter what you’re selling, there should be multiple ways for users to reach you.
The easiest route is to add a “Contact Us” section, accessible via an easy-to-see button or navigation link at the top of every single page of your site. On the contact page, users should find your mailing address, email address, and phone number – bonus points for an online contact form. It’s also wise to feature these details at the bottom of your website because many users look for contact information there. Even if you rarely get a call or email, having this information supports your credibility.
9. Taking a “set it and forget it” approach
Once you’ve put the finishing touches on your brand-new website design, you’re done, right? Wrong. While you can certainly celebrate being done with the bulk of the work, now isn’t the time to forget about your site.
There’s a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping a website up-to-date, both in terms of functionality and the overall quality of the user experience. Some of the many website maintenance tasks to put on your to-do list include:
- Security updates
- Refreshing outdated content
- Fixing broken links
- Reviewing your hosting/maintenance plan
10. Trying to do it all on your own, even if you aren’t sure what you’re doing
Sure, using a website builder to create a business site is doable for many people. But in many cases, crafting a website that excels in both form and function is a job better left to a professional web designer.
Web developers and designers undergo extensive training and education, which is why they are the people we trust with the important job of building fantastic websites from scratch. Not only do they have the skills and resources to create a great website, but they can employ specific strategies tailored to your business goals and needs. For many businesses, small and large alike, hiring a professional web development team is an investment that’s well worth it.
Get Set Up with a Website That’s an Asset to Your Business
If you’re ready to harness the full potential of an excellent business website, V Digital Services has the talented team you’re looking for. Our web developers and designers work in tandem with our SEO experts, social media team, and an array of other skilled professionals to build a site that flawlessly fits your brand, needs, and big picture goals.
Let’s join forces and launch the website you really want: contact V Digital Services to learn more now!