Ten Common Errors Made When Designing a Business Website

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There are a number of common mistakes that small and medium sized businesses make when they are developing their websites. Some of these errors are based on a lack of knowledge of what customers look for online, while others are based on a misconception of what constitutes a good website.

1) They do it – lets do it too! A common error when concluding a business web design project is to start with the statement "this is what our competitors are doing – let's do the same". Whilst some of your competitors may have excellent websites it is better to try and challenge industry norms and differentiate.

2) We know best – too many web design projects involve a closed shop approach to design. For example, a small group of senior individuals from an organization decide what they think their customers want from their website. WRONG! The simple solution here is to ask your customers what they want from your website, perform user analysis and always ask the question: "how can we create the best user experience through our website?" Usability is key in today's world of business web design.

3) Lets focus on our products – another common mistake is to focus on the products and services that you provide. Whilst this is obviously important in terms of providing customers and prospects with information about what you do, the fact remains that customers are actually more interested in their business need – that's why they look at your website in the first place! Try to use customer personas to tailor the content of your website to the needs of your customers. If your sell good quality widgets then why not include a box on your homepage citing "sick of looking for good quality widgets? Click here ''

4) Lets talk technical – rather than using industry jargon try to tailor your website copy to the audience. If you are speaking to people who may not work in your industry then try to avoid using jargon and terms they will not understand. At the same time also avoid trying to dumb your copy down so that a five year old could understand, except that is, your key audience are children!

5) Do not worry about cross browser support – sorry but developing a business website that does not work with all available common web browsers is not acceptable. From Mozilla to Chrome and Internet Explorer to Safari, ensure your site is tested and displays correctly and consistently on all browsers.

6) Not accessible – accessibility is extremely important; so do not discriminate against people with disabilities. Make sure your business website uses features like access keys, alternative text tags for images and resizable text.

7) Online marketing, what's that? Many businesses invest significant budgets into the development of websites, but fail to follow this up with investment in online marketing. Every website needs some marketing support to ensure it's objectives are achieved, whether the objectives are to generate sales or collect information. Focus on your objectives and integrate online and offline activity to support your website through generation of traffic and driving of conversions (eg transferring a visitor to a buyer).

8) Too much focus on design – there are many 'funky' web design agencies who will be more than happy to produce a visually impressive Flash based website for you. When you launch the site, however, and realize that people are not returning you may have a rude awakening. You need to think about function and content as well as design, this is what keeps visitors coming back for more – substance. Also think about whether search engines can see you website if it is flash or image based and if users require special plug-ins or software to view multimedia content.

9) No content – the terrible curse of the 'coming soon'. The content may be coming soon, but potential customers and audience members may not re-visit your website and that is bad for your business. Always make sure you think about your website content as part of your site design and develop.

10) Do not tell the Project Management Office! There is sometimes a preconception that the PMO, project manager, or person who looks after your projects may actually slow down the process of developing your business website. Whether it is an agency, an individual, or a PMO, having a project management process in place will benefit your website and business.

When you develop or re-develop your business website, be aware of the ten errors listed here. Try to avoid the pitfalls that you may fall into and ensure you create a website that will win prizes not enemies!

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