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Your website has an attractive theme, powerful images, and compelling content. It should be generating the traffic and leads you envisioned when you created or designed it. Yet, it’s falling far short of your expectations. As a growing business in 2021, the last mistake you can afford to make is a website that misses the mark. Your website is more important than your brick and mortar (if you have one) to establish your brand identity and market credibility, generate a steady flow of leads and sales, and nurture customer relationships.
Though many usability oversights are less egregious and less common than they were a few years ago, many SMBs still have yet to correct five costly mistakes.
In the third quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51% of global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50% mark since the beginning of 2017, according to Statista. If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile users, you’re squandering half of its potential and giving away business to your competitors. Search engines are also punishing you as they prioritize mobile-optimized sites.
Since you probably can’t afford to give away business, your website must either be responsive to mobile devices accessing it or adaptive. Responsive design expands or shrinks based on the user’s screen size, and many elements flow to fit the space as needed. Adaptive design is like having a completely different site, optimized for the best possible mobile experience. Though this may be optimal, there are longer development times. More maintenance is required, so most SMBs opt for responsive design.
Easily understood navigation paths make your website easy for search engines to crawl and easy for your prospects and customers to use. The results are more traffic, longer website visits, a better user experience, and more sales. The term “navigation” describes the internal link architecture that connects your pages, enabling both users and web crawlers to understand both content and context. Strong navigation elements include intuitive menus and buttons, linking content categories, and linking between product and content pages.
Your prospective customers don’t want to access information via PDF, especially on mobile devices. PDF pages are difficult to load, and font sizes are typically too small. PDFs optimize the layout for paper rather than browsers, and there is no smooth scrolling. Reserve PDFs only for documents that customers and other parties may need to download and print. Another related impediment to easy reading on any device (especially smartphones) is fixed font size. Make sure that your site does not disable your users’ “change font size” functions.
Your website must load in 2–3 seconds, regardless of how it is accessed, or most users will abandon it. Large images and media files on your home page and landing page slow your site down. According to Google, as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123%. Similarly, as the number of elements—text, titles, images—on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops by 95%. What Google says matters because Google rewards fast-loading sites with higher search rankings.
An astounding 75% of small business websites do not use analytics tools like Google Analytics to measure performance. Google Analytics is the most widely used metrics tool. You should integrate it (or other analytics tools) into your website. Analytics allow you to track user activity and a variety of key performance metrics, set up goals, and measure conversions. You can make incremental improvements as you learn what works and what does not. Failure to test, track, and adjust is the root cause of many otherwise easily remedied website problems.
If your website has any of these design mistakes, an experienced professional web designer can help you to remedy these issues in short order. The right partner will consult with you, perform a comprehensive evaluation of your website and its architecture, and make recommendations based on what works for your industry and your business. Fixing these issues will enhance not only your user experience but also your search engine rankings. You will have the ability to continually fine-tune your website as your business objectives evolve.
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