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13 costly website mistakes small businesses make (and what you should do instead)

If your small business doesn’t have a website, you’re inevitably missing out on potential clients and potential cash.

Already got a site? Good. Now, let’s talk strategy. Because the quality of that site could also be impacting your bottom line.

“Anybody can buy a Web platform and build a down-and-dirty site,” says Buffy McCoy Kelly, partner and creative director of local ad agency Tattoo Projects, recently ranked one of the top small ad agencies in the country by Advertising Age magazine, with clients including Hoover, the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and UNC Charlotte. “But an (unpolished site) definitely colors the way you look to the world. It colors your value to the consumer. And it can definitely hurt you.”

ShopTalk spoke with McCoy Kelly and other local experts in marketing, advertising and Web design to compile a list of mistakes small business owners often unconsciously make when developing and maintaining their websites. Here are their tips, and a handy list of what not to do:

Visual mistakes

Burying contact information:

Failing to embrace “white space”: #thesavageway


“We’re overstimulated, as online users,” Savage says. And if there’s too much vying for a user’s attention on a site, they won’t know where to go for the answer they needed. So simplify the visuals and focus on one or two key images and short paragraphs.

Dead links:

Logos that spin or flash:

Content mistakes

Too many words: Synchronicity

Savage of #thesavageway says that in the “About Us” section, you should be able to give a crystal-clear picture of your business in one short paragraph, about four sentences. It’s OK if you need more space to describe complex, industry-specific products or services, she says, but do it strategically in other areas of the site.

Typos and grammatical errors:

Failing to focus on search engine optimization (SEO):

Stale content:

Outdated calendars:

Big-picture mistakes

A site that doesn’t mirror your company culture:

Failing to mobile-optimize:

Failing to incorporate social media:

Being stingy:

Smith of Synchronicity Web Designs cites work he did for one of his local clients, H&S Roofing. The company, founded in 1939, is highly respected in the community for its quality of work. But the quality of the website?

“It looked like one of the first websites ever built,” he says. So he asked the company: How many people are filling out contact form on the site each day, each week and each month? “None, none, none,” they replied.

Smith and his employees rebuilt the website with retro-style fonts and a “paper-like” effect for the layout, to give customers the feeling of an “older, steady, been-here, great-foundation company,” Smith says. And with some SEO assistance, the company is now among the top results when you search “roofing companies Charlotte” on Google.

And that Web traffic is translating to sales. The company currently gets contact forms from potential clients three to four times a day, Smith says, not counting all the people who picked up the phone because of the website.

Now that is Web optimization.

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