9 Things To Avoid When Building Your Small Business Website

It can be hard to know what you should look for in website design for your small business. Do you really know what aspects of website design are good and which you should avoid? Most of us know that some websites have frustrating, distracting, or unattractive design elements. You’ve probably encountered at least one website which was so ugly or hard to use that you immediately clicked off.

You don’t want that to be your website. If you own a small business, you need people to stay on your site and keep coming back. Your website design shouldn’t make people click away.

Small Business Website Design Elements You Should Avoid

Most people hate these common website design elements. Any good web designer knows to avoid these features, but they still pop up on many websites. If you want your small business website to succeed, avoid these negative design elements:

1. Music auto-play

When music automatically begins playing on a website, it can be startling and very unpleasant. The website visitor might be in a quiet office, already listening to music or a video, or simply hate the music that plays. Music is distracting and doesn’t add to your website design. Automatically playing music will often make visitors click away from your website immediately.

2. Pop-ups

Website visitors hate pop-ups. A lot of websites continue to use pop-ups and many have started using them again after a long break. Unfortunately, no one likes pop-ups and repeat visitors will get turned off when they encounter the same annoying element every time they visit your website.

3. Busy Background Images

Loud images can work well as website backgrounds. If the image loads quickly and doesn’t distract from your content, you don’t need to worry. However, a slow-loading or distracting background image is a huge no-no, so try to keep it simple.

4. Links opening in new windows

Sometimes you want a link to open in a new window. If that’s the case, you can easily right-click and select that option. However, when your links automatically open this way, visitors end up with endless windows open and can’t easily find the original page. Make links open in the same tab so that visitors can easily navigate back to their original page using the back button.

5. Hidden links

It’s always confusing when your cursor is hovering over a webpage and suddenly a new window opens. Links should be visible and you should want to click them. Make sure that your links are obvious and your visitors can tell what’s a link and what’s just text.

6. Animations

Animations can look good with certain website designs, particularly if they’re relevant to the website. Are you an animator or a graphic designer? If you are, an animation might help sell your skills. But if your product isn’t art-based, avoid animation elements.

7. Odd fonts

Yes, you can use a creative font to express your personality. But remember that a lot of fonts may be hard to read or look ugly to certain visitors. You could risk loss of interest if the wrong font is selected. Sticking to clean, web-safe fonts is a good idea if you want your website to look professional.

8. Moving text

Generally, you should avoid scrolling, flashing, or blinking text. It might work if the moving text is subtle, but usually it’s just distracting. It’s true that it will catch people’s attention, but is that worth it if the text annoys them and makes them leave your website?

9. Pages that are too long or wide

It might seem ridiculous, but many websites still use excessively long and wide pages. Most people use screens that are 15 to 17 inches in size. If your website loads huge pages, visitors will have to scroll across and down the page to see all of your content. It might seem lazy, but many visitors will click away in these circumstances.

The Exceptions To These Website Design Rules

You should generally avoid these unattractive and annoying design elements. However, there are exceptions to the rule. We’ve mentioned some of these exceptions above but every website is different and there are various reasons why these elements might work for you. If you really think one of these website design elements suits your site, you could be right!

When you’re not sure about your small business website design plans, reach out to your website designer or online marketing specialist. You can also get a second opinion from family, friends, other business owners you know, or regular customers. User feedback is always helpful for website design.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we provide you with expert website design services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.

Top 10 Strategies For Doing Business Online

The internet has permeated every part of modern business. It’s no surprise that these days, having a good online presence is vitally important for your business. Whether you run an ecommerce business or a traditional brick-and-mortar store, an online presence will benefit you. An online store will bring you a wider audience of potential customers, offering you an easy and inexpensive way to share information and giving you many more possibilities when it comes to marketing.

Thanks to these benefits, a lot of savvy entrepreneurs are only doing business online and leaving traditional storefronts behind. This can be daunting for small business owners who may not have experience with online marketing and sales. The switch from a standard shop and office setup to the internet world can seem difficult and scary. However, there are so many advantages to doing business online which far outweigh the fear and the learning curve.

A website lets you stay in contact with a huge number of potential customers (anywhere from hundreds to billions of people!) without the hefty price tag of traditional advertising spots and newsletters. A website is also significantly less expensive than a brick-and-mortar store or an office. On top of that, doing business online opens you up to a whole new audience of consumers. You can sell to people all over the world, not just the ones in your local area.

The way that you do business online will be different depending on your industry, your customers, and your aims. Your online presence might be purely for marketing purposes or you might set up a fully automated online shop. You might be marketing a service to a highly specific demographic or operating widely. You might provide free newsletters or samples to attract and incentivize customers. The options are endless.

Doing Business Online. The Best Strategies

Online businesses can vary hugely but there are some strategies which every entrepreneur should implement. These ten strategies should work for every business owner. Use them to help your business grow and thrive.

1. Create a great website. You’ll need a great website to do good business online, so don’t rush when it comes to creating your site. Make sure you’re working with talented, committed professionals who can work with your vision to build a website your customers will love. Your website should clearly express your brand, offer all necessary information about your business, and convince visitors to become customers with strong calls to action.

2. Understand your industry. You need to understand what’s happening in your industry online. Check out your competitors’ websites and figure out what they’re doing online. Peruse the websites of other professionals in your industry who may not be direct competitors. This will help you to discover online trends in your industry and pick upcoming opportunities which your competitors might be missing. Sign up to their newsletters, browse their forums, and read their blogs. Get involved with your industry online, as well as other companies which may be complementary to your own. Make sure you’re on top and ahead of your industry’s online trends.

3. Forget geographical barriers. The internet breaks down geographical barriers. You can sell to pretty much anyone anywhere in the world with e-commerce. By setting up an online store, your products are immediately available to millions more potential customers. If you’re running a service, you may not be able to sell it all over the world – after all, how can a plumber or a hairdresser work online? But consider the options available to you. Could you offer phone or Skype consultations? Write a monetized blog? Sell your professional knowledge in an e-book? Figure out what aspect of your business can be sold online and offer it to consumers all over the world.

4. Diversify your source of income. It is generally a good idea to branch out and find new streams of income in this ever-changing online world. Are you a baker? Create a blog and e-book of baking advice to sell online. Do you run a car dealership? Advertise your cars on your website and include a blog with information about cars. You can offer free information to bring in new customers and sell more extensive sources of information. Keep thinking about what you can sell. It might be consultation services, e-books, a video training course, affiliate marketing, or something totally different.

5. Get involved on social media. Social media can waste our free time but it is a huge boon for businesses. Using social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you can quickly make connections with millions of people globally. These sites are free and allow you to easily make connections from your current address book. Assess which sites would suit your business and figure out how you could best use them. Facebook is great for any business. Twitter is helpful for sharing links to your website and communicating quickly with customers. LinkedIn lets you make professional contacts. Instagram and YouTube are best for aesthetic content and marketing. For an efficient, cost-effective way to boost your business, use social media.

6. Start blogging. It’s true that there are some downsides to blogging. It takes time and writing skills and adds a separate sphere of technology and marketing. In reality, though, having a blog can be very advantageous. You can boost your SEO using a blog to drive traffic to your website. An informational blog can attract many readers who may be interested in your products. You can easily communicate with potential and current customers via a blog and build their loyalty. A blog is also a great way to express your brand. It may take some time and effort, but a blog is a strong marketing tool which you shouldn’t ignore.

7. Network, network, network. The internet can feel anonymous so it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to network online. However, this would be a big mistake. The internet is made up of billions of people making connections and you should be one of them. People who network well in real life will succeed online. Luckily, if you find real-life networking awkward or difficult, you’ll probably find that it’s easier online. A new networking contact could provide you with important insights to your industry, introduce you to a valuable customer base, or offer you a useful exchange of services. Get involved in conversations in comments sections and forums, meet new people, and grow your contact list by networking online.

8. Make regular updates. Don’t let your online presence become outdated. You need to keep updating your information online, for example if you change your business hours or phone number. Add information about upcoming sales or new products to your website and social media profiles. Leave comments on industry blogs and interact with customers online. Update your blog so search engines will rank you highly. You don’t want potential customers to come across outdated profiles and get a bad impression of your business. You also want people to know about your latest news, offers, and products.

9. Update and analyze your progress. Make sure that you keep your online presence current by maintaining your website and social media profiles. Remember to also analyze the performance of these online centers. You should track your marketing campaigns, website, and social media posts to see what works and what isn’t contributing to your growth. This will help you push ahead with useful strategies and readjust things that aren’t working.

10. Be charitable. People like businesses that give back to charity, the community, and their customers. Figure out a cause which aligns with your business and make an effort to champion and support it. It’s okay to publicize the fact that your business is donating or working with charitable causes. Offer a contest for your customers or newsletter subscribers to thank them for their loyalty. These efforts offer great publicity, help you earn your customers’ loyalty, and are positive for everyone involved.

Any business owner, entrepreneur, or online mover and shaker can use these tips to do good business online. Some of these methods may seem tricky if you’re adjusting from a traditional real-world storefront, but you’ll soon see the benefits of doing business online. Remember that all successful entrepreneurs know how to adapt and evolve to suit current trends – this is what online business is all about.

What are you waiting for? Get your business online! A La Carte Web Services offer expert online marketing services for small businesses. Contact us if you want to find out more or discuss how we can help your business.