Monday, February 16

10 Small Business Web Design Disasters to Avoid

I don't get angry easily but I'll tell you what makes my blood boil - irresponsible, under qualified, even clueless web designers. Many web designers are talented, skilled and reasonably priced and have the best interests of their clients at heart. But unfortunately there are too many who don't.

Week after week small business owners call or e-mail me wondering why their expensive website is generating no traffic or leads and not showing up in the search engines.

When I look at their website I often see a site that looks pretty, but is useless. So how do you avoid falling into the same trap?

Here is what you need to know:

1) Ask the web designer to create your website in a Content Management System like Joomla or WordPress. This will allow you to easily make frequent changes to your site yourself without having to pay $60 or more per hour for every added link or paragraph. Those days are long gone. If the designer balks at this suggestion, run.

2) Ask if they do keyword research to determine what keyword phrases people who want your type of service are searching for. If they don't you can certainly do it yourself or out source it cheaply. Check for a great selection of freelancers.

3) Ask if they do Search Engine Optimization. If so, what is the cost? If they don't, run. If they are too expensive, shop around. You can do it yourself with a little effort.

4) Do the copywriting yourself or provide an outline and have a professional copywriter do it. The headlines and content need to be focused on customer benefits and they need to contain your keyword phrases. Your headline and content will determine whether visitors leave or stay. Avoid phrases like "welcome" and "we do this" and "we do that".

5) Ask your designer to go easy on using Java script or Flash as Google can't recognize or read either.

6) Do not create an "enter" or "intro" page. It will increase your rate of abandonment and the search engines won't like it. Every extra click discourages visitors.

7) It's crucial that you have an e-mail marketing program and put an opt-in box on every key page of your site. Ask visitors to sign up for your mailing list and give them something of value to encourage them to comply. This is how you convert visitors to leads. Ask your designer if they will put the opt-in boxes on your site for you.

8) Check references and find out how long they've been in business and how reliable they are. Do they have a group of designers or are they solo? You want someone who will respond when you need their help in an emergency, not someone who ignores you for days. You will need excellent customer service since your business is at stake.

9) Do not let your web designer register your domain name or host your website unless you have direct access to your domain and hosting accounts and they are in your name. You don't want to be "held hostage" should you need to change designers. You'll need direct access anyway for a number of reasons. You shouldn't pay more than $10 per year for a domain, and for a simple site, your hosting costs should be no more than $10 to $12 a month.

10) Shop around. Don't just hire the first person you're referred to since the referrer may not be aware of some of these pitfalls.

Following these 10 tips will save you hundreds of wasted dollars and will help you create a website that sells.

Small business growth and marketing expert Janis Pettit invites you to join her for a free tele-class, The Online Lead Attraction System for Small Business Owners. Learn about the 9 Step Process that will turn your website into a virtual sales tool and lead generator. Register: