A website is now a mandatory component of a business regardless of its size. But the road to every business’ online journey is rife with costly traps that have long-lasting effects. This can be very detrimental to small businesses with limited budget for a website build.

Here are common mistakes that small businesses often make when going online:

Quick and Easy

Everyone has a website, so you set out to create your own as soon as possible without considering a digital strategy. A free Wix or Weebly page should do the trick.

The result – a basic website with all your contact info but eventually gets buried in search results. Your users don’t return because there’s nothing much to do aside from getting your phone number.

Your website needs ongoing updates to maintain your online presence. Yes, getting traffic and unique visitors is important, but you also need to engage your existing customers. Before building a website, think of a digital strategy which has three important components:

  • Technology – open source or proprietary platform (where your website will be built) and content management system (enables your website to be edited)
  • Online marketing – SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and branding
  • Future options – think about your mid-term to long-term requirements to future-proof your website

Trendy, not Targeted

Your competitor has a cool website with a parallax scrolling design. You hire a freelance web developer to whip up the same layout without considering your business objectives.

The result – you have a pretty website but low ROI. The whole homepage is indexed in one file, so Google doesn’t recognise each layer in search results.

You need a website that matches your business, its industry and target market. If a parallax scrolling design does that for you, then go ahead. But keep in mind that the online universe changes fast, so trends don’t last long.

These are four factors you need to consider when developing a design:

  • Usability – does it match the needs of your target audience? Is the website sluggish or slow?
  • User experience – does it provide an intuitive navigating experience for your consumers?
  • Relevance – does it encourage visitors to take action (e.g. contact, subscribe) and pass the blink test?
  • White space – does it have enough white space to ensure that the website pages look organised and skimmable?

Prescriptive, not Collaborative

You want a website that “pops”. So you ask for brighter colours and place a picture of your pet (she looks cute and your significant other or relatives say so), without considering your web designer’s input.

The result – a personalised but unprofessional website. Design isn’t subjective and your company website isn’t about you.

Yes, you need to make a brief for your web designer and web developer. But you need to work with your team to find a solution that will improve your business.

Here are the three important roles you’re going to need:

  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Marketer – look for a generalist first, then search for a specialist when necessary

Here are important traits you need to consider besides the necessary technical skills:

  • Methodology – someone who matches your approach. Some web developers prefer to execute detailed specifications but you may want a more agile approach.
  • Communication – someone who can articulate technical jargon in a language you understand.
  • Impartiality – recommends options that are good for a small business, not a platform or programming language that they’re comfortable in
  • Project management – someone who knows how to manage, keep track, and document their work

If you’re going to outsource work, make sure to manage the engagement:

  • Ask for daily informal wrap-up emails at the end of the shift.
  • Use video call or conference to address issues.
  • Identify problems early on.
  • Treat your offshore employee as part of your internal staff.

Taking your small business online is no easy feat but it is achievable. As long as you focus on what your business and consumers need, you are headed in the right direction.