Today we are joined by Dave Percival, a Business Gateway Business Adviser specialising in e-commerce and everything website related. Dave provides local business owners with advice on how to improve their website for the best results and can deliver free website reviews. If you would like to utilise this free service in Aberdeen City and Shire, please ask your appointed Business Adviser for more information or call us on 01224 289725. Dave also runs workshops on ICT, Search Engine Optimisation and Getting the Best Results from your website. These can be booked on the Business Gateway website:

5 Basic Website Mistakes

David Percival squareWhen I put together my first website as a small business owner in 1996/97, there were none of the website development tools around which are available today. 

I remember hand coding my web pages using Notepad. When I later worked along with a local IT/Web agency in 1998 on an Aberdeenshire Council funded web portal for small businesses, the web designers were all hand coding their websites. Screenshot 2015 11 30 15.00.18

In 1997, web development tools like Microsoft Frontpage and Macromedia Dreamweaver appeared but they were too expensive for a new start business owner like me.

For someone starting or growing a business in 2015 there are many options for website development. 

There are numerous cost effective, web-based tools offered by web hosting companies and other online web design companies which allow the small business owner to design and publish their own websites. 

Now everyone is a 'web designer'

However, it is also now even easier for the amateur web developer to produce websites which do not follow best practice.

Having reviewed 300 plus websites over the last 2 and half years on behalf of Business Gateway, I see the same basic mistakes being made over and over again. Here are a few that can be easily avoided.

1. Home Page Design 

Information overload leading to a cluttered home page with too much text and too many graphics.

cluttered homepage ecommerce

Ling's Cars is hugely successful despite this cluttered homepage

Focus on presenting your main services and products along with their benefits to your site visitor/customer using formatting which is easy to scan:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Descriptive and concise headings and sub-headings
  • Bulleted lists
  • Use relevant images to break up text and to highlight important information

People don't read every word on a page. They will scan anything which catches their eye and will probably ignore any large blocks of text.

Conversely, if there is too little information - the page is just a large graphic with some links - then the site visitor will probably go elsewhere. 

2. Out of Date Content 

If your site user sees any content on your website which is out of date - News articles, blog posts, events, special offers etc., then they may think you have gone out of business or at least can't be bothered to update their website. 

How does this reflect on your business?

Don't leave any content on your website which may give visitors the impression that your website is no longer being regularly updated.

If you do not publish fresh content on your website this can also have a negative impact on your search engine visibility.

Screenshot 2015 11 30 15.22.46

3. No Phone number and/or Postal Address 

Screenshot 2015 11 30 15.32.18

You'd be surprised the number of websites I've seen where the only way to contact the owner of the website is through an enquiry form with no phone number or contact address.

How likely are you to entrust your personal details or credit card number to a business which doesn't display its phone number, email and postal address prominently on their website? 

This is a simple matter of trust and credibility, especially if it is an e-commerce website. 

Display your main contact number and email address prominently at the top of every page and have your postal address on your Contact page.

There are also legal requirements to comply with which you should make yourself aware of. 

4. Use of Low Quality Images

Using high quality imagery on your website is especially important if you are promoting/selling products but also services such as accommodation.

 low res vs high res

Offering high quality photos on your website is the next best thing to your site visitor experiencing them in real life.

Images that are too small are also far less effective. Case studies have shown that an increase in product image size on an e-commerce website can increase sales by up to 10%. 

5. Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

Screenshot 2015 11 30 15.27.53

There is nothing more irritating than a website which is full of grammatical and spelling errors.

What does this say about the professionalism of your business if you can't be bothered to proofread your website copy? 

And finally one last thought as your Amazon parcels come flooding through your front door...

Screenshot 2015 11 30 15.38.55

In 1996 Jakob Nielsen, Web Usability Guru, wrote that one of his colleagues set out to do all his Christmas shopping that year on the web but only succeeded in acquiring a single present!

Happy Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

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