Small Business & Web Design: Mistakes to Avoid

Here at OSM we often publish articles to help small businesses tackle the use of social media and technology. Recent posts include a look at YouTube and small business marketing and another on mistakes to avoid with Facebook marketing. Now we have some information for you, again about mistakes to avoid, but this time aimed at small business and web design.

For many small businesses their website is vital to their success and first impressions really do count. It’s your chance to put your branding and marketing into practice and get potential customers to notice what you have to offer. Therefore if you slip up with your web design you could be potentially harming your business. An article by Grace Smith over on Mashable, originally on the American Express OPEN Forum, gives advice on 5 common web design mistakes.

One thing to avoid on your website is poor navigation as if your customer becomes frustrated trying to find what they need they’re likely to go elsewhere. Your website should have seamless and logical navigation and several tips are suggested to create an effective structure such as the use of icons and logical groups of links. Another mistake that some websites make is the lack of a clear sense of direction, for instance buying, contacting or subscribing. Without this ‘call to action’ users may not commit and you could lose them without gaining any benefit.

Color and contrast is also another area of a business website that can be easily overlooked but is important all the same. I am constantly amazed by the amount of websites that are difficult to read because of the wrong colored print against the contrasting background for example. Readability is a very important factor and color can also be used effectively to steer the customer around your website. By experimenting with different color schemes you could optimize your website and make it more accessible to all.

It may seem obvious but content is an area that some small businesses get wrong on their websites. Most users want to be able to quickly scan your website without getting bogged down in too much detail, unless of course they want further information which they can then find. Therefore good tips can be to break up info into digestible blocks, making it readable and using plenty of white space to contrast against the meaningful content. Finally your website must avoid looking cluttered. If you try to pack every single inch of your website with information you run the risk of your site looking too busy. People do not want to be swamped in information and too much can start to look unprofessional. Tips to avoid your site looking cluttered include asking yourself about every item on every page, whether it is serving a purpose and if it’s really necessary. By creating a streamlined uncluttered appearance, people are more likely to stick around long enough to find what they want.

For more useful advice and hints on each of these easily avoidable mistakes, check out the full article at the Mashable link above. Does your small business have a website and what mistakes have you made in the past? Do you have any useful tips to share with our readers? We’d welcome your comments about this.