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The 7 Deadliest Small Business Website Sins

by Stacy Karacostas

It’s been years since the Gartner Group told us 50% of Web sales are lost because visitors can’t find what they want. And 85% of visitors abandon a site due to poor design.

Yet far too many small business Websites are still missing the mark by a long shot. Instead of having a site that gets clients and makes sales, they end up with one that just costs them money.

So today I want to get back to basics, and approach Website design and usability from a totally non-technical standpoint with…

The 7 Deadliest Small Business Website Sins

1.   Ma

king ‘Em Guess
You have 4 seconds to get someone’s attention and let them know you have what they want. Plus, most people don’t read on the Web initially. They skim and scan to see if you have what they are looking for.

So put a big, bold, benefits-oriented, problem-solving headline at the top (“Welcome to our site” is NOT a good headline.). Then add content in the “above the fold” area that summarizes what folks can expect to find. To improve skimmability, make paragraphs less than five lines and sentences less than 21 words. And use subheads and bullets whenever possible.

2.   Snoozer Content
Advertising great David Ogilvy once said “You can never bore someone into doing business with you.”

Even on the Web people don’t buy from businesses; they buy from people they like. So if you want prospects to read what you have to say and like you, make it interesting, informative, and friendly.

Your content s

hould sound like you’re having a conversation with one other person (IE: your reader). Write like your reader speaks, don’t be afraid to have fun, and be, well, human.

3.  We, Me, My, Us & Our
This might come as a shock, but people don’t want to know all about you, what you do, and how you do it right off the bat. First they want to know what you can do for them!

Starting with phrases like “Acme Group is the leading manufacturer of…” or “We offer…” do not entice people to keep reading. Why? Because it’s all about you instead of them.

Try this simple test: Do the majority of your headlines, sentences and paragraphs start with I, We, Our, or your company nam

e? If so, it’s time for a rewrite. Rework your sentences to start with “you” and “your” and focus on the benefits to the customer.

4.  Letting People Wander Aimlessly Away
If you don’t tell people what to do next, there’s no telling what they are going to do. But chances are good it’ll involve clicking away from your site.

If you want them to call, tell them so and give ‘em the phone number right there. If you want them to go to a specific page, sign up for a newsletter, or download a report, tell them so and put the link right there. Want them to buy?” Make it easy with a “Buy Now” button.

5. Wasting Time
Lots of designers

love to build fancy flash intros and stylish landing pages, yet most Web users hate them. Why? Because they rarely provide useful info…They put you another click away from what you want…And who has time to wait for those things to load?!?

Here’s a handy rule of thumb: If you can’t navigate back to the opening page from the rest of the site, or the opening page has a “skip intro” option, the page isn’t important.

Get rid of it. When it comes to building a small business, it’s a waste of visitor’s time and your money.

6.   Mystery Navigation
Make it easy for people to find what they want. Skip the cool graphic with links that only show when you mouse over them (there’s no guarantee anyone will). And ditch the obscure link names. Simple and intuitive is way better than creative.

Give your

main navigation obvious names like Home, About, Products, etc. Put them where people expect to find them, like across the top or down the left. And keep ‘em in the same place on every page.

7.   No Contact Allowed
If you want people to trust you, you have to show them you are legit. An easy way to do this is by putting your full contact information on your site. If I can’t call a number and get a live body on the phone, I’m not buying from your Website.

Even if you info is on every page, always make “Contact” a main navigation link. Then include your physical address, phone number, email—not just a fill-in-the-blank email form—and fax (if you have one).

Phew! That’s it. The 7 Deadliest Small Business Website Sins. Fix even a few of these and you’ll be well on your way to having a money-making site. [24×7]

Stacy Karacostas is founder of SuccessStream Sales & Marketing. She began developing her knack for driving small businesses to success at a very young age…She was just six years old when she went to work in her parent’s animal hospital. By the time she was 14 she was helping run the practice and the entrepreneurial spirit had seeped into her blood.

Since then Stacy has personally owned four successful small businesses and helped grow more than a hundred others as a copywriter and marketing consultant. She is the author of more than 100 articles on marketing, copywriting, sales and small business success, as well as the interactive e-workbook ‘Putting Your Business on the Road to Success’ that makes writing a powerful, 2-page marketing plan as easy as planning a vacation road trip. A sought-after speaker, she regularly shows entrepreneurs how to use her proven tools, tips and tricks to take the struggle out of growing their small business.

Find a ton of FREE Resources and learn more about Stacy at