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:) They look terrible!
Apart from terrible creative, harming the brand or limiting the brand, they also don't have a purpose other than be a basic postcard or cosmetic front for the business. That's a massive missed opportunity.
They also don't have a way to keep an ongoing conversation going with prospects - either through email marketing, blog posts or social media.
I feel there are so many people out there claiming to make websites and be marketing experts when they simply have no clue. There are 200 digital suppliers on my database and not one of them the same. There are horses for courses. This can be an overwhelming exercise for people who don't deal with marketing and creative work day to day.
I agree with Anne's points. I would also add that many small businesses suffer a lack of control over their content management. I have met a number of small biz owners who feel frustrated over not being able to update the content on their websites, and having to pay significant money to web developers for each change.
For this reason, I generally recommend to my clients that they use an open-source, user-friendly platform such as Wordpress, and that they find a developer who will train them in how to manage their own content once the site has been built. It's not as scary as it seems! And it will save money in the long run, and ensure that your site stays fresh, relevant and up to date.
I agree - being able to update your own website content at any time is essential.
Including your contact details on the home page saves your visitors from having to click through to your contact us page for your phone number or email address. I'd always include a contact us page too, so they can easily make an inquiry.
One major problem is finding good advice about SEO. There are a lot of people out there speak all the jargon but don't actually deliver; and if you ask more than two people for advice, you receive conflicting information.
Something I come across all the time is business owners who have no time to create content, be active on social networks or forums and don't want to learn how to 'do website stuff', yet they want organic rankings. They set their website up 12 years ago and have just left it alone. Even when they pay for SEO to be done the user experience of their website let's them down. The old online brochure of a website doesn't really cut it these days I don't reckon...
The most common problem is that people go to design shops to get a website built but they are expecting a marketing outcome. It almost never happens.
Designers go to design school. They may do good graphical layouts but there is no marketing expertise involved. Most of them have no idea how to create a webpage that causes a business result. The problem seems to go and on.
I come across business owners every day who say, I spent x on my website, but I haven't had any business from it. Maybe I need a new one. No, you need a marketing strategy. The website needs to serve the purpose that comes out of that.
With an estimated 650 million websites out there, having a good looking website is not going to carry the day. You need to make a site that converts browsers into prospects or buyers. Then you need a marketing plan to get the target market to your site.
1. I use a product called WYSIWYG html editor. It is easy to use and is only about $49 and has great features to create my websites.
2. The other issues that I think a number/most websites do not have, and that is a mobile phone website. Have a look around you and see how many people are using mobile phones. It's a huge market and a mobile phone website is very easy to update because of the size and bandwidth. It can also be inserted into you normal website using an Iframe. The mobile site can keep your customers up to date with specials etc. Also look at Qr Codes to make it easier to get to your mobile phone website.
When I owned our online lingerie business, the number one problem I faced with the website was integration into our non-web services. For example, we used OSCommerce as the shopping cart which was awesom but it was totally incompatible with MYOB. To be able to automate the whole business to front-end through to back office we had to literally change our accounting system.
Most small business owners have no idea about this and its often all to hard. However, this one issue especially in the small business game can really impede the development and growth of the business.
Full front to back office integration for small business is sorely lacking in this country and globally!
Most business owners think that the postcard business website is what drives traffic to their website.... Little do they know there are millions of websites sitting stagnant online with no traffic what so ever. I have to agree with Adrian, when it comes to web designers. They are fantastic at web design however, many web designers add a blog to the website and think that will do the trick.
I think as a business owner you need to ask yourself, "Do I want a website that just looks good" or " Do I want a website that not only looks good, has the option of daily SEO and rank change, gets my business on page one of the search engines, drives ongoing organic traffic, keeps your clients up to date with your company products and services, they can control and update as needed and builds a responsive list you can continuously sell to for years to come" Now that's a website!
When I offer this type of website to clients they are totally blown away. Also many small business owners think you only have your site optimised once, when you should have it optimised more regularly.
Once the website has been totally loved by Google and is in the number one spot on page one it's very easy to keep it in that position forever using simply content marketing strategies.
Get too many opinions from friends on the look and feel of their website. My experience is get 10 people in the room, and invariably everyone has a different view on colours, choice of images etc.. Lose sight of what the website is trying to achieve.. more sales, and better rankings is too vague. A better measure would be 3 sales leads per month from this segment and build from there
What I have found is people not valuing a website and think spending say $500 will do the trick and essentially what they get is as many people have mentioned a "postcard" site. Considering a website can be accessed by essentially unlimited number of users, it really is an investment and one that needs to be reviewed and updated regularly. Without trying to promote myself and my business, this is essentially what I have tried to offer and educate small businesses with; a responsive website catered for mobile, tablet and desktop due to the changing behaviour of users accessing online content, a website that serves a purpose with objectives and one that is updated and optimised regularly and connecting other channels such as social media.