9 Common Web Design Failures Small Businesses Make


9 Common Web Design Failures Small Businesses Make

These days, websites serve as hubs for businesses of all sizes and shapes. But for small businesses, their websites are the most significant component of their marketing and branding endeavors. One mistake, and you risk turning away a valuable potential customer.

Although it is crucial that you make it easy for prospects to discover your organization’s website, you should also make sure you’re meeting their demands with regard to their overall experience, content, and design. A improperly designed website can easily cost you thousands of dollars initially, however, much more troubling is the losing of future earnings you’ll face as a result of weak design and performance.


The web design process can be challenging, yet steering clear of common mistakes will certainly help your profitability over time. Below are a few blunders you may be making:

Target Market isn’t Targeted

It’s very easy to forget about your target audience if you’re hurrying to publish your new website. However, if your website will be a success, it’s essential to thoroughly research the audience you’re attempting to reach. It’s essential that this research informs the direction of the web design process.

For example, if you’re seeking to attract women 21 to 30 years old, think about vibrant color palettes and visuals, as well as ensure a mobile friendly version of your site is created. On the other hand, if you’re targeting an older segment of the population, give attention to larger font sizes and create a very intuitive user experience. Most web design concerns will be more easily addressed after conducting target market research.

If you’re thinking, “We target everyone!” think again.  Trying to satisfy everyone may well leave you attractive to no one. It’s far better to determine your average customer zero in on developing the best achievable experience for them.

No Clear Call-To-Action

A prospective buyer has landed on your website. What’s next? Should they fill out a form? Make a phone call? Download a document? Tell them what action they should take. Make it crystal clear, and reinforce it on every page.

Be sure that your articles and other content answer your visitor’s question of “What should I do?” and they’ll be able to navigate accordingly. The best call-to-action is displayed right away on the homepage or a focused position on every single page on your site.

Design Gone Crazy

A fancy and over-the-top design isn’t a good strategy for your website. The truth is, over-designing your website, and finding yourself with a confusing presentation  virtually guarantees your visitors will quickly search for a competitor. Steer clear of adding too many bells & whistles and rather, concentrate on appealing to your customer base. Less is more. Simplicity converts much better than a busy-looking website!

One note here: Whenever someone visits your website, they most likely already know what they’re looking to accomplish. Should they become confused within the first 3 secconds, they will most often “bounce” off your site, and onto another.

Stale Content

An attractive and effective website should provide the most recent details about your products, services, and business overall. But if your website is missing an updated feel when it comes to content material, your prospective customer can easily suppose you’re not around anymore.  Or worse, you’re not innovative enough to position yourself ahead of your competition.

For enticing content, make certain that you’re addressing the needs of both current and future customers. Update your content frequently, particularly with company updates, news, and trends. For those who have a blog, consider updating it at least once a week.  This will help drive traffic to your website and enhance your search engine optimization.

Spent Too Much or Spent Too Little

More small businesses than I care to think about have ended up with a disastrous website after choosing a cheap designer. On the other hand, we’ve had many clients who spent ridiculous amounts of money working with a web design firm that more often works with big brands.  The problem here is that many times these firms have no idea how to keep the budget and ROI goals in mind for small business owners with tight budgets.

When you decide to launch a new website or to revamp your existing site, do your homework. Selecting the right web design firm could make or break your ability to stand out from your competition in a sustainable way. It’s also important to remember that cutting too many financial corners can end up costing you a lot more than you would otherwise spend.  If you trust the direction of the firm you’re working with, explain your budget, but trust their guidance.

Fell for DIY Solution

Web design trends are constantly changing, so having the expertise of a professional who lives in this world will pay dividends. While DIY solutions may be attractive, especially if you’re budget is particularly small, you probably won’t do your small business any favors by traveling down this path.  Keep in mind, your website is often the first impression people have of your business. You wouldn’t make a plywood sign in your garage and hang it on the front of your business.  You want to be represented well.  DIY websites are easy to spot, and consumers can easily tell the difference between the business owner who invested in their brand’s image, and those who have not.  You will likely lose a ton of business if you go it alone.

Not-so-social Social Media

There’s not much more annoying than trying to click to a social page and finding a broken or incorrect link instead. Your potential customers will likely be left wondering what’s up with your website, and questioning your credibility. Additionally, you’re also missing out on the opportunity for your visitors to explore your business on a social level and potentially follow or like your pages. You should check your site’s social links regularly to ensure everything is working fine, and Social Media URL updates haven’t affected the functionality of your buttons.

Non Mobile Friendly Experience for Users

With smartphone users expected to surpass fixed-internet users in 2014, it’s essential that you get up to speed if you want to tap into this huge market.  There are a couple options here.  You can opt for a fully responsive design (the website automatically resizes based on the screen size of the device), or a mobilized website that automatically detects the mobile device, and redirects users to the mobile version. Both have benefits, so you should talk to your web designer to see which is best for you.

Live Website with Avoidable Errors

Unless your web designer is creating the content for you, most of the time they simply copy/paste the content you provide into the new website.  Either way, you need to be sure you double check the content yourself for spelling errors, broken links, positioning issues and various other small problems that are easily overlooked. Review the entire website on your own, but it’s also helpful to have someone else review it as well. It’s not just an issue of typos. An objective third party who isn’t acquainted with the website will provide you with an alternative point of view and can provide useful recommendations for your site. It’s time your friends make themselves useful, no?

Like it or not, first impressions are the most important, particularly when you’re trying to keep business profitable. Don’t let your potential customers make negative assumptions concerning your business due to a poorly designed website.

Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

  • avatar
    Posted at 09:54h, 28 May

    Have to admit I’ve made a lot of these errors. Too bad I had to learn these lessons the haaaaaard way. On a positive note, our next web design project will be a breeze now that we know what to look for!

  • avatar
    Posted at 08:05h, 28 May

    Our biggest problem is consistently generating enough good content. Seems like there are so many things you have to do to keep up!!!! Between blogging every week, staying on top of social media, monitoring reviews, and running the business on the ground, we’ve all but given up trying… We do know how important it is for the future success of our business though. Wondering if you could make any recommendations on what we can do.

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 17:49h, 02 June

      Hi Samantha,

      You’re absolutely right. It can be extremely overwhelming to keep up with everything. Good web design is a great foundation – without it, it doesn’t matter what you do – you’ll be spinning your wheels. From there, staying consistent with high quality and engaging content is what your business will need to stand out online.

      To accomplish this, consider outsourcing your online marketing efforts. When you add up what the average business spends on marketing their website online, it often works out to be less than what it would cost to hire a part time employee making minimum wage. The benefit though is that your website (and all the great content we create) never stops working, never has a bad day, and delivers consistently every time.

      Feel free to give me a call to discuss your options. I’d be happy to explore this with you.


  • avatar
    Brittany Jensen
    Posted at 11:18h, 07 April

    I fell for a developer I found on craigslist that sounded great, and was only charging me a few hundred dollars for a wordpress site. I even went as far to check out reviews online – didn’t find much, but what I did see was decent. Wasn’t expecting the world for $300 anyway. Should have just gone with my gut though. This website is horrible, and now I have to spend more than I would have to do it right in the first place.

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 16:49h, 07 April

      Sorry to hear about this Brittany… Very common scenario, although I know that doesn’t make it feel any better. The truth is that designers and developers are two different breeds of people. Developers focus more on the functionality of the site, where as a designer is focused on making the site look pretty. The reality is that you need both. A great looking website that doesn’t function well is worthless, just as a highly functional, yet improperly designed website doesn’t accomplish anything of value. Please feel free to request a website audit – we’d be happy to run this report at no cost, and give you some insight as to how you can pick up the pieces and move forward. Whether you choose to work with us on this project, or you hire someone else, the information will prove valuable.

      Best of luck!

  • avatar
    Farm Hero
    Posted at 21:56h, 26 March

    Right here is the perfect blog for everyone who wishes to understand web design. You certainly put a new spin on a topic that’s been written about for years. Great stuff!

  • avatar
    Jammi Herry
    Posted at 14:53h, 02 March

    Very useful ideas you have shared here. Amazing! I appreciate that. Thanks for sharing this incredible stuff.

  • avatar
    Vanaye Hamilton
    Posted at 18:50h, 24 January

    Research and planning should be the core of everything for small businesses. Saves money and reduces waste.