Q. Dear Zenagos,
I need to make a website for my jewelry business, and I want to know what are the biggest mistakes people make that they later have to pay to fix?
Your company website is your storefront in the virtual world, so building it may be one of your largest investments. The most valuable piece of advice that we give to small business owners about their website is to prepare to change your website several times in your first year or two of operation. As you interact with customers, you will learn about your offering and your market, and that will mean website changes. So, do what you can to make your website change-friendly, whether that’s doing it yourself, so you know how to make changes, or making a contract with a designer that accounts for a few significant updates in the first year or two.
Here are the top 5 mistakes that small business owners make when building their company website:
5. Using low quality images and videos
If your business is in photography, video, or marketing, it is critical to your brand to have beautiful images and video at the highest possible resolution. However, even if you’re not in the business of imagery, it is still important to use the highest quality images and video that you can afford. A session with a photographer to get fresh headshots is a great investment. If you can afford a professional photo shoot, you will never regret having beautiful images for your site.
4. Writing web copy that rambles or is unclear
Life moves quickly these days, especially on the web, so you can’t expect your website visitors to read long articles or pick through a cluttered blog. Get to the point quickly. When in doubt, make your web copy shorter and use more imagery. Less is more.
3. Creating a poor user journey
Before you start building your site, create a journey map that imagines exactly what your website visitors will experience on your site. What impressions and feelings do you hope to create? What do you hope visitors will do? In most cases, the small business owner is actually not a member of the target market, so it’s important to test your ideas on people who could be potential customers before committing to a site design.
2. Omitting the call to action
A company website is a commercial activity, so you are probably hoping that your website will enhance your sales process, or will even sell customers on its own. However, this won’t happen if you don’t create clear calls to action (CTAs). If you want customers to sign up for a free consultation, make sure to make a big button that suggests that, and use a calendar tool that enables them to choose a time right then and there. Whatever you want your visitors to do, you need to make it obvious, clear, and as easy and possible to do.
1. Forgetting to design and test for mobile
Mobile form factors such as phones and tablets behave very differently from desktops, so it is very important that you design with the mobile format in mind from the very beginning. If you make a gorgeous desktop design that doesn’t function or look good on mobile, you may need to start designing all over again. Mobile platforms may constrain your design in ways that you don’t like, but at least you will know that from the beginning, so you can make the best possible decisions about your site.
And, don’t forget that building your website should be fun! It is a very creative process that will help you organize your thinking about your company’s brand, offerings, and messaging. Start designing it as early as you can, since most entrepreneurs find that they need at least 6 months to design, build, and launch their site.
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