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If you’re a small business owner, your website is the central hub of your company, and it’s a pivotal part of your marketing and branding.
Potential customers visit your site specifically for its content, meaning its appearance and usability are critical to its success and how those users view your company. However, getting your web design wrong can have a negative impact on your business.
Here are 5 common web design mistakes you must avoid to create a great user experience and grow your bottom line.
1. Poor Navigation
Many small businesses fail to make navigation a priority, but without careful attention to how people navigate your site, you could unintentionally be creating a frustrating experience for any potential visitor. People visit your site for specific information, and if they cannot find it they will quickly go elsewhere, leaving with the impression that your business is disorganized in more than just its website.
A good navigation structure should be seamless and will keep visitors on your site longer, which means potentially more readers, subscribers, sales or leads — whichever is your primary objective.
Website navigation affects both usability and accessibility, so it’s important to make it a primary concern. Most websites and blogs use common navigational techniques that are expected by the average visitor. The pages and sections of the site should be easy and logical for visitors to maneuver. Don’t make your visitors think about how to navigate your site; it should be effortless and natural.
There are several principles you can follow to create an effective navigation structure:
- Use icons to aid navigation. They’re both visually appealing and easy to use and understand.
- Create logical groups of related links, with the most important links on the top-level navigation bar and functional (dashboard, account, settings, etc.) and legal (copyright, privacy, terms) located elsewhere.
- Provide location information so users know where they are on any given page and how to proceed to another area of the website. This can be achieved by using Breadcrumb navigation.
2. No Clear Calls To Action
The fundamental error of many small business websites is the lack of a clear call to action. We’ve all seen bland small-business brochure websites with nothing but endless descriptive paragraphs. If you aren’t leading users to commit to an action (buy a product, contact you or subscribe, for example), then you are losing them.
Driving traffic to your website is important, but that traffic is useless if your primary call to action is a plain “click here” link buried in a sea of text. Call-to-action buttons are a great way to grab the user’s attention, and these buttons can be the key to higher conversions. Investing time and consideration into creating successful calls to action can help guide users and address their needs while achieving your own business goals.
It’s important to keep the following best practices in mind when creating an optimal call to action:
- The design of a call to action can be broken down into 4 simple elements — size, shape, color, and position. Each plays a vital part in determining how effective the call to action is in directing the user.
- Don’t make your users work or think, or they’ll leave. It’s not that they aren’t smart, it’s that they want access to information quickly without spending unnecessary time searching for it.
- Don’t overdo it with multiple, competing calls to action on every page. Decide what your primary target is and then define a clear objective per page. Your content should have answered, “What’s in it for me?” and your call to action should now answer, “What do I do now?”
3. Color & Contrast
Color and contrast aren’t usually high up on the list of priorities for a small business owner when it comes to creating a website. But it should be, because if your website text does not have sufficient contrast compared to its background, people will have difficulty reading your content, especially people with poor vision or color-blindness.
Aside from plain readability, color and contrast are important because they can be used to create visual interest and direct the attention of the user. It can equally be effective in organizing and defining the flow and hierarchy of a page, and it’s therefore an essential principle to pay attention to during the design process. Here are some tips:
- Using a free a Color Contrast tool (which conforms to accepted standards) you can easily check to see how the contrast on your website measures up.
- Research how major sites use color and contrast to improve readability and highlight specific sections, and use this knowledge to experiment with color schemes.
- One of best ways to enhance contrast is by creating size differences between elements, making some things appear larger than others. This works especially well within a minimal color scheme, and it means you don’t have to necessarily rely on color.
4. Content, Content, Content
People visit your website for its content, and how that is structured is a huge factor in its success or failure. Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of small businesses get so caught up in overloading the user with information that they overlook how that information is presented.
Most people do not read unless it’s absolutely necessary, and they prefer to scan through information quickly to get to the points of interest. This is why it’s so important to establish a strong visual content hierarchy so users can quickly scan your site and sifting through relevant information. A logical content hierarchy also acts as a guide through each page and creates a more enjoyable user experience.
So when focusing on your content, it’s best to keep in mind these three tips:
- White space is possibly the most important factor to consider. It will allow the user to focus on the meaningful content within each section.
- Break up lengthy pieces of information into digestible blocks of text, utilizing headings, sub-headings, bullets, blockquotes and paragraphs.
- Readable content is important, so use a good line height that is large enough to make content scannable. Margins and letter spacing also need to be taken into consideration.
When talking about content, spelling and grammar cannot be underestimated.
We all know at least one small business website that seems to include everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. Many small business owners tend to cram as much as they can onto a single page — the end result is a busy, cluttered and unreadable page.
The more extraneous items there are on a web page, the more unprofessional it looks, and it becomes overwhelming, confusing and distracting for the user. A cluttered website will also affect traffic because visitors won’t return if they can’t understand or follow the content, which leads to low traffic, a high bounce rate and possibly a poor Page Rank.
Clutter also applies to images. Too many can be a huge distraction and just plain annoying. Images should be used to illustrate, capture attention and guide the user where required.
Follow these guidelines for a more streamlined visitor experience:
- Challenge every item on each page and ask, “Does it really need to be there? Does it serve a specific purpose? Can I live without it?”
- The key is to aid the visitor in finding the information they’re looking for, so make sure to differentiate between areas of content, advertisements and promotions.
- Prioritize your content and decide what is the most important to your visitor and potential customer — and sell it well.
Even the greatest content can become lost in a mess of words and graphics, so de-cluttering is essential.
These are just five web design mistakes that many small businesses make. What other mistakes have you noticed on small business websites?
Building a dynamic Web Presence is the key to helping local consumers discover your business when they search for products and services online. And, since 86% of local consumers use the Internet to find a local business, with search being the top way people look for products or services online, showing up in local search is an important goal for any local business. And, one important factor in your Web Presence is to have a strong Google Places page so that when consumers are looking for a local business like yours but not typing in your business name directly, they’ll be able to find you.
According to the Google Places Help page for business owners, you can help consumers discover your local business by optimizing your listing with accurate and complete details, selecting the most appropriate category for your business, and making sure you have a solid, accurate Web Presence across the Web. Notice that Google places a heavy emphasis on accuracy.
Taken together, these tips mean that having a great Google Places page is more than simply having the correct information on your Google Places listing. It underscores the importance of having accurate and consistent listings across your entire Web Presence – including third-party review sites like CitySearch and Urbanspoon (although Google Places no longer aggregates reviews from Yelp).
Why is accuracy and consistency across your Web Presence important? According to the Google Places Help page, “Google improves search results by aggregating information about your business from all over the Web. Make sure information about your business on third-party sites is accurate, and try to contact the respective site directly to correct any inaccurate information.” Plus, if your Web Presence isn’t consistent, Google may not attribute reviews on third-party sites to your business, significantly altering the impact of your Google Places page and thus affecting search. That’s because reviews are a major ranking factor for Google Places pages.
Making sure you have an accurate, consistent Web Presence doesn’t just end with your local listings! Double check these details across all the pages of your website, including the “about” page and details like the footer. Check these details on your social media profiles and pages and anywhere you’ve contributed information about your local business online.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Make sure you the following details are consistent across your Web Presence:
- Physical Address
- Phone Number
- Business Name
Double Check the Details
It’s also important to make sure that your definition of “complete and accurate information” is more than simply that the information looks similar to the naked eye. For example, you might look at “1234 Tree Line Drive, Anywhere, Texas” and “1234 Treeline Dr. Anywhere, TX” and see that they’re the same address or read 1-888-555-5000 and 888.555.5000 as the same phone number. But to search engines, every single detail is needs to be the same to be complete, accurate and exactly the same across your Web Presence – down to the nitty, gritty details. So, make sure to double check the following when posting your business information online:
- Spelling – Make sure every word in your address and business name is spelled accurately and consistently. Beware: spell check may be your enemy here, since many local business names are plays on common words. Make sure that the spelling of your business name you list is yours!
- Abbreviations – Does your business name include an abbreviation? If so, use it consistently across your business name mentions, punctuating it accurately. Also, make sure you use abbreviations consistently in your physical address, including whether or not you spell out or abbreviate your state name and street names like “Road,” “Lane,” or “Trail.”
- Periods – After your abbreviations, do you leave them hanging or add a period? Also, watch out for alternating use of periods or hyphens within phone numbers across your listings. Pick your preference and be consistent.
- Dashes & Hyphens – Do you know the difference between a hyphen and a dash? Hyphens go in phone numbers and some descriptive phrases like “Go-To Guy. ” Whether or not you know how to use them properly, make sure you’re using them consistently in your listings.
- Commas & Apostrophes – Is there a comma in your business name? An apostrophe – before or after an “s”? Double check this detail!
- Spaces – Is there a space in your business name or not? Are there two spaces after a period, or one? Spaces are tricky little details that often go overlook but can make a big impact.
- Ampersands – Is it “Tile and Flooring” or “Tile & Flooring?” Make sure you’re consistently using this special character if there’s an “and” in your business name.
- Special Characters – Double check any other special characters like dollar signs, parentheses, or brackets.
When is the last time you checked to see if your address, phone number, and business name are accurate and consistent across your entire Web Presence? Taking the time to adjust and update these details can help you make sure every element of your Web Presence is working for you to help consumers find you online.
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.
A massive 8.9/9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean nearby Northeastern Japan at around 2:46pm on March 11 (JST) causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami. On this page we are providing the information regarding the disaster and damage with realtime updates.
The large earthquake triggered a tsunami warning for countries all around the Pacific ocean.
Local Japan Emergency dials:
171 + 1 + line phone number to leave a message
171 + 2 + line phone number to listen to the message
Phone numbers to consult about missing persons: (Japanese language)
Fukushima: 0120-510-186 / 090-8424-4207 / 090-8424-4208