Starting a new business venture is an exciting time, and often incredibly daunting too. There is so much to think about, even after the business plan is in place and the product or service is ready to be released to the public.
Sometimes it’s a slow process that happens organically as you gain clients or customers and realise that you actually have a business opportunity. Other times, it’s an idea that you wake up thinking about in the middle of the night and suddenly want to pour every inch of your being into making it work. Whatever your small business, in this day and age, it needs a website.
The key in this process is to not get carried away too quickly and to realise that your website needs to be simple, professional and relevant.
Here are the most common mistakes that small business owners make when building a website.
1. Buying a domain before speaking to a developer
Once your business has a name it’s only natural to want to reserve the website domain, as well as the username on all the possible social networks. You’ll need a domain in order to have a business email address so usually it’s the first step. However, it’s not always the correct way to go.
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Buying a domain before you have spoken to a developer or understand where your website is going to be built, is like buying a filling before you’ve been to the dentist. It’s just much easier to know what you need once you’ve spoken to a professional.
2. Not considering your target audience
Once you’ve got a concept, you’ve spoken to a professional and you’re starting the web development process, it’s all about making something that will appeal to your target audience. Think about your target customer in detail: What they do, what gender, age or nationality they are, what they earn and where they find their information.
This should guide your decision-making process when it comes to what your website will look like or how it will function. For example, if you’re targeting a labourer who earns low wages then a desktop website that has little to no mobile functionality is not going to get you very far.
3. Using too many bells and whistles
Once you’re on the road to building your website and you’re designing the functionality, it’s important to sit down and decide what’s really important.
There are so many fancy features like sliders, flip-boxes, animations, buttons and transitions available for websites these days, and often business owners feel the need to include all of them on their website – in the hope that it will be dynamic and catch people’s eye.
This can become too confusing for new customers, causing them to feel overwhelmed and close the website. It’s more important to have one or two prominent features that show off the main call-to-action on your website and give customers a clear path to take.
4. Thinking it will be a quick process
For those who don’t know too much about building a website, it may seem like a simple process. We’ve heard business owners say, “I just need to quickly put something up”, or “It’s a simple website, just one page with some info about my business”.
It’s never simple, and it’s never quick. What starts out as a simple concept often snowballs into a three-month project when business owners realise what is possible and also how much needs to go into the work behind the website.
For example, setting up an online store is not about just getting the products on the website, you need to consider how people will pay online, what delivery costs will be, how you’re going to get the products to the customer and what your returns policy will be. This is part of the strategy that needs to happen before the website is built.
5. Trying to do it all on your own
There is a lot that needs to go in to building a website – not to mention writing compelling content (copy) that your customers will want to read and then take action, and finding emotive images that represent your business, or organising a shoot to take your own photos.
Most business owners make the mistake of trying to do all of this on their own. As with everything in business, you should stick to what you do best, and delegate the rest.
If that means finding someone in your team or close network to write the copy or take photos for you, then do it. The quicker you get a strategy together, speak to an expert and start working on the content, the quicker your website will be up and running.
And lastly, don’t wait until it’s absolutely perfect to “make it live”. If it’s your first website, no one will know the website is live until you tell them. The key is to get the site to the point where you’re relatively happy and then show your friends and family.
Chances are you’ve missed a typo here or a link is broken there, and a fresh set of eyes will give you a bit more perspective. When you’re all 100% happy with it, you can tell the world (and Google) about it!