As a small business, getting services for cheap – or free – is a really great idea. Unfortunately, some corners cannot be cut. Case-in-point: any amount of research you may do will result in the same encouragement – “if you want a professional-looking website, defer to the experts.”
I urge business owners to consider investing in a website. Typically, business owners don’t just hire their neighbor’s son’s college roommate that built a birdhouse once, so he’s sure he can build your office. Business owners have to view their website as the “digital main office” for their company. You may have the most fancy, beautiful office location decorated in the highest quality furniture and paintings, but if your website looks terrible, you might as well be operating out of a windowless van at a street fair. You will not attract the clientele you are targeting with a bad website.
We have some tips for what NOT to do on a website:
- Don’t use exclamation marks. They are not professional. Using too many exclamation marks will make you lose credibility. You do not hire 3rd graders, you hire professionals. Don’t make an opening paragraph on a website read: “We have been in business since 1982!! And we have a five-star rating! Our team is excited to serve you! Call us today!!”
- Pay attention to capital letters. “Providing Quality Local Services to Hundreds of Local and Regional Businesses” actually appears on the website of one of our competitors. While we appreciate a good slogan, the “Start Case” variant is not necessary. When you are hiring a marketing/web development company, you guarantee yourself the peace of mind to ensure you won’t look like you have a website full of book, movie, or television show titles.
- Don’t copy your information across all pages. (Don’t add pages to add pages) We found a website that said everything it needed to say on the main page. When we clicked on “about us”, we expected to see a more in-depth company history, but read the same paragraph from the home page and the same photo. Throughout the entire page, this continued. Clearly, the designer (whether it was a “professional” or a business owner trying to cut corners) felt they needed to expand beyond the “single page scroller” format to add more pages. Let’s make this clear – adding more pages to a website does not make you look any more valid as a business. Unless you have high-level content on the home page and explain/expand the content as you navigate deeper within the site, do not add pages.
- Do not have multiple columns on a page with the exact same verbiage under each header. If you have three headers, which say “Products”, “About Us” and “Contact Us”, and under each, your website says “We are the oldest shop in the area still operating! We have been part of this community since 1946!! We offer complete services for any product available” under each header, then you really need to create more content. The only thing worse than carrying the same content under each header, is when the content varies – having more exclamation points under one header than the previous one. While consistency IS key, it is not a good rule-of-thumb to apply for such a literal following of the rule “consistent copy throughout”.
- Size your images correctly. We found a website that was excited to be featured on the cover of a national magazine. For a small, locally-owned company, this is great…. Until the photo appeared on the slider and it was so out of spec that it cut off a photo of the individual on the front cover at the hairline, which made this website of a company celebrating 70 years in service lose immediate credibility.
- You may have the most amazing video and want to promote it on your website. However, the “auto play” feature needs to turn off. Not everyone comes to your website to watch the video. While they may stop to watch because the option is there, many do not want their speakers to start screaming at them when your video comes on.
These are just some tips on what to focus on, when building a professional website to represent your business. If you’re ready to hire a professional, InSilico Media Group can help. We’re specifically geared toward small businesses, ensuring our prices stay reasonable and our quality is impeccable.