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Website Creation
What Are The Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Create Small Business Websites?
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1. The number one mistake small business owners make when creating their websites is that they don't really believe in their website or the Internet for that matter. This often is because they are not technologically savvy and therefore the Internet just makes them feel stupid. They are intimidated by it. Most websites are a grudge purchase. The dirty little secret is that most small business owners hate the Internet. They have no idea what to do with it. They don't know whom to turn to build one. When they do build one it is rarely updated. The only reason most businesses have a website is because their competition has one. Do you want proof? A recent StatsCan survey revealed that 62% of Canadian businesses do NOT have websites! This overriding ennui results in mistakes 2 and 3...

2. They don't spend any (or enough) time figuring out how their website can actually be a business enabler. Doing so would require actually spending time with their website, reviewing site stats, adjusting keywords in Google Adwords. It would mean having a plan for their site, figuring out their USP, providing a coherent offer to visitors, having strong content and knowing who their real audience is for their website. It would mean having fun with their site, which most businesses have no idea how to do.

3. They don't spend enough money on their website. Most business owners perceive their website as an expense when it should be viewed as an investment. The Internet is the single most important, cost-effective marketing tool that you have. I think what is the most daunting aspect of a website is that it has to be updated frequently. Frankly, this is a huge challenge for many people.

But I say, get over it. Accept the reality. And by all means put some performance metrics against your website. Review them. Make your damn site work for its living. Don't let it off the hook. Think of it as an employee. If an employee did nothing for 3 or 5 years you'd fire them.

What all this comes down to is finding the energy to actually embrace the Internet and buying into an automated website management system (CMS) that will make updating and managing your website painless to do.

—Paul Chato, President, your web department.

1. Never start with the design. Form should always follow function. First layout the information that your prospects need to see. I recommend a written outline. This will be the foundation of the information architecture of the site.

2. "One of my sales people has a 17-year-old-son that knows a ton about the internet - he said he can create our site for $400." AGHHHHH!!!!!! You get what you pay for. I can't tell you how many times I've heard this.

That is not to say that there aren't some incredibly competent pimply faced kids that are a whiz on the computer. (just ask my 8 year old twins how long it took Dad to install the PS3 that Santa bought. On second thought, don't ask them.) Once you have laid out the information structure of your site - I recommend sites like templatemonster.com that have a phenomenal library of "stock" designs that look incredible and you can't beat the price.

—Ken Schaefer, Principal, Blanchard Schaefer Advertising & Public Relations.

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