Although potential customers may have a genuine interest in your products or services, they may prefer to view those offerings over a cup of coffee at home. That's why it's crucial that your business website is easy to use and current. Make a customer's online experience pleasant, and new orders may be just a click away. Annoy those same customers, and they may never darken your door or fill out your order form.
Unfortunately, many business owners, though savvy about providing excellent customer service and stocking quality merchandise, often fall short when designing a website. Whether you're planning to launch a site for the first time or revamping your homepage to draw in more customers, be sure to avoid these common blunders:
- Lots of glitter but little gold. Flashing arrows, hip-hop music, and multicolored wallpaper may steal the show at your daughter's sleep-over, but your business website should project a professional image. Most folks who surf the Web — especially those who browse from their smart phones — want information in a hurry. Don't make them waste valuable time (and data usage) while waiting for your fancy web page to load. Keep it simple.
- Stale data. When you browse a web page and see that it was last updated five years ago, do you sense a vibrant cutting-edge enterprise? Or do you wonder whether the company is still in business? Make sure your site displays current prices, merchandise that's available today, and up-to-date information.
- Navigation to nowhere. Faulty design often becomes evident when a customer tries to navigate from one web page to another — and gets lost. Each web page should have the same "look and feel" so visitors can get their information quickly and easily.
- No freebies. Don't make potential customers pay for every scrap of information. Your business website should include current content that's free to any visitor. If you're in the business of selling electronics, provide the latest consumer reviews. If you refinish furniture, offer advice on maintaining antique pieces. If a visitor finds your information useful, he or she may stick around for a sale.
- Poorly written content. Don't clutter your website with grammatical gaffes, spelling errors, or industry jargon that's incomprehensible to the common man. Remember, your Internet presence reflects your business. Like the sign above your door or your ad in the yellow pages, your website leaves an impression — positive or negative — with every viewer.