7 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Building Their First Website
So you decided to take the plunge and build your first website. If you are reading this, hopefully we’ve caught you soon enough in your research mode to keep you from making these newbie mistakes shared by Employedpreneur Network member Akilah Thompkins-Robinson.
1. The about information is too much about you and not enough about the business.
Often when a company is just getting started there isn’t a lot of information to add on the about page; so in the absence of business information new entrepreneurs talk about themselves. While it’s nice to hear about your wife, husband, kids, degrees, and last 5 jobs; that isn’t what your business is about. If you do not have a lot of awards, a high client history or content to share, add more information about the business. It’s ok to repeat the products and services you offer throughout your web site.
2. Obvious DIY (Do it Yourself) and shortcut websites.
One of the worst things to do is click a link to a business website and see this in the address field: XyZ.blogspot.com, janesplace.wordpress.org, or bobsbusiness.wix.com. There are plenty of great ways to get a cheap (or free) website. However, when a client sees a website with one of these freebie extensions or links, it screams. “YOU ARE JUST GETTING STARTED, POSSIBLY INEXPERIENCED AND/OR YOU DON’T HAVE A LOT OF CAPITAL TO INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS!” Many of the DIY sites offer an option to remove their branding from your site, so if you choose a DIY route spend the little extra to get a dedicated URL (web address) and remove all of wordpress, wix, vistaprint, yahoo central, etc. links and tags from your pages.
3. Ads on your website.
This goes hand and hand with number 2; ads are another big mistake found on new websites. Whether they are ads from using a free service or those purposely placed on the site to make a little extra money like Google ads or selling advertising space; ads distract visitors from your site and cheapen your brand. When you are just getting started, the only advertisement on your website should be your own. Unless your business is a blog, stay away from Google and other per click ads. Again, if you are using a free site, pay a little extra to remove the ads.
4. Hidden Contact Information.
Many websites, both new and old, fall short with contact information placement. Contact information is often buried on the contact page or in very small print where visitors can’t find it. Don’t keep you a secret! Provide a way for visitors to find you on every page of your site. Aim for about 2-3 contact information placements on each page. Also, don’t only place links to your contact page. List your phone, address, and/or email on the page. Here are a few good ways to highlight your contact Information:
- Place phone # or email in the page header
- Put a contact section at the bottom of the sidebar on each page or in the footer section
- End product descriptions, testimonials, etc. with a link to contact page
In addition, on your contact page provide a form to complete and submit and list the contact information for calls or direct emails; give your customer options on how they can reach you.
5. Flash Websites
If you have read my post on “How Flash can Kill your Web Traffic” you already know this one, but just in case you missed it. It’s worth repeating over and over again. Flash is not viewable on IPad, IPhones, Black Berry, and several other mobile devices. Before you go out and spend a lot of money on a great Flash site or that cool Flash banner, note that possibly 40% of your viewers (the estimated number of users accessing the web on mobile devices) will just see this:
6. Under Construction and Coming soon pages.
Sites that lead to big “Under Construction signs” (no matter how cute the graphic) or pages and pages of “Coming Soon”, are advertising to the world that they are unprepared. You only have one chance to make a first impression to your visitor and a big sign saying “come again when we are ready “is not the best impression. Instead of using an under construction page while you are getting your site ready, try posting nice one page blurb about your business. Include your logo, 2-3 paragraphs about your services, and of course contact information. You can even throw in links to your Facebook and twitter if you already have them set-up. This gives your visitors more information about your business than just being under construction, it also invites them to engage your business in other ways. Once your site is up, hide any pages that are not 100% ready.
Remember: No one knows what should be on your website but you and your designer, so if a visitor comes to your site they are only looking for what you show them. It’s much better to not have a Gallery page than to click the link to a Gallery and see “COMING SOON”.
7. Fuzzy Graphics, Blurry Fonts, and Loud Colors.
Another big mistake new entrepreneurs make on their first website is using all of their favorite pretty fonts, pictures and graphics they’ve collected over the years, and 3-5 colors from the rainbow for their website layout. In an attempt to give it all you got (literally), you can easily make it hard to see what you have. For font usage, a good rule is to reserve script fonts for Headers and Titles. Any text over 5 words long should be in a basic block font for ease of readability.
Product pictures and graphics on your site is another big pitfall many face. Graphics on a site should be crisp and clear. Stay away from clipart and using everyday photos to show your products (Here’s a good post from etsy on taking better product pictures). Lastly, your favorite colors may not look so good for a website or may just need some contrasting colors to make it work. Try this great online tool to test out your color scheme and get ideas on ways to make it work for your site - Color Scheme Designer.
Akilah Thompkins-Robinson is the owner of AKZMe Designs, LLC (www.akzmedesigns.com). Since 2005, AKZMe Designs has specialized in web and print design, web site content management, and managing social media presence. Akilah’s objective is to help businesses, organizations, and individuals establish their voice in the online marketplace.