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What Are The Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Create Small Business Websites?
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Make average download times exceed 10 second. Let’s say you’ve just opened an attractive new retail store. It’s stocked with the classiest merchandise and staffed by helpful, eager salespeople. Yet, you only allow customers to enter through the second floor window. Will it succeed? Of course not. You’re making it too hard for the customer to enter the store. Yet far too many websites greet their visitors with huge graphic files or flash animation on their home pages. Visitors to your website are like everyone else in the world today—time-starved. It's foolish to presume your website visitors will stick around any longer than 10 seconds.

Put up the site, then leave it alone. When I worked at a pharmacy during high school, the owner made us dust shelves and tidy up merchandise. Being a know-it-all youth, I thought this stuff was boring and didn’t see how it would benefit a business. Now that I’m older, I see that I was wrong. Keeping a store’s interior clean provides visitors with a more memorable experience. The same holds true for a small business' website. Tidy up your website content by loading new content and updating copy sections every 6 months at the least. The aim is to lure the infrequent visitor back for another peek. And that won’t happen with dusty shelves.

Hide your ‘pearls’ deep within.. Visitors to your site, especially new ones, want to find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Keep your most important content at least two clicks away from your home page. Any deeper than this and they will get overlooked, both by visitors and the search engines.

Don’t include a search box for the site. According to Jakob Nielsen, 50% of all website visitors are search-dominant. This means they arrive at a website fully expecting to use a search box to find what they are looking for at the site. If your site has a fair amount of content, you should provide a search box that’s above the fold (viewable without any scrolling), easy to find (the upper left hand corner is the most common placement for the search box) and comprehensive in its results.

—Jay Lipe is president of Emerge Marketing.

1) The biggest mistake is not defining your objective for the website. Websites come in different flavors: brochure-ware, resource, lead generation, e-commerce, and portal. You have to put in the right ingredients to make it just right. Ingredients include message, design, branding, technologies, capabilities, and marketing mix. If you don’t include the right ingredients, you won’t achieve you objective. If you don’t define your objective, you’re just wasting time and money.

2) The second biggest mistake is not updating your website regularly. A website is a reflection of your business. If you’re website is reflecting your business from two years ago, it’s doing you more harm than good. Hire someone to keep your website updated… it should only cost $50-$100/month to keep the site up to date. Think of this as an investment in your business and image.

3) The third biggest mistake is that companies don’t leverage their websites. Direct people to your website in all your marketing campaigns and in all your interaction with clients and prospects. Put your white papers, data sheets, forms, and downloads online. Make it informative and useful for clients and prospects. Tie your website with marketing campaigns… people will go to your website before they call you. Encourage people to contact you.

—Salim Lakhani, CEO, Initsoft Web Solutions.

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