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Small Business Website Design: Keys to Success

Updated on May 17, 2008

The Key To Success

Do you have it?
Do you have it?

Why Do Small Business Websites Fail?

Small business websites fail for 3 main reasons:

  1. Lack of planning
  2. Poor execution
  3. Ineffective marketing

The problem is, when a website fails to perform, the web designer normally catches the blame. But if you are creating your website the right way, the web designer actually has little or no influence over the end result.

The web designer is responsible for the look and feel of the website, which are very important aspects, but the small business owner holds the ultimate responsibility in all areas. Gone are the days when you could simply contract a web designer, launch a website, and watch customers appear. If, in fact, we ever had those days to begin with!

Before I'm taken out of context here, let me just state this doesn't mean you should hire the cheapest web designer. Like everything, you get what you pay for. Your website is like a permanent advertisement, so you should be prepared to pay for what you're getting.

All web designers are definitely NOT created equal.

But I digress, let's look at the three areas in a little more depth and see what we can do to stop your website becoming depressed and lonely because no one ever visits it.

1. Lack Of Planning

The success of your website is decided before you even pick up the phone to call a web designer and collect some prices. Whether your website is successful or not can even be decided the moment you think that fateful thought:

"Hmm...I think we should get a website."

Believe it or not, many websites exist just because everyone else had one and the owner thought it was time they caught up. Remember how your parents always said:

"So if everyone else jumped off a cliff, you'd do it too?"

Well this is kind of like that. When you see everyone else jumping off a cliff, you should probably think long and hard about joining them. Not that I compare owning a website to an agonising and painful isn't...most of the time!

But you really have to have a think about why you're creating your website. What's its purpose in the grand scheme of things? And then you should consider how much you're willing to commit to your website. Because a good website can cost a lot of time and money.

It's like having a child, you have to be really sure before you find yourself with something that sucks up all your time and money for 18 years and then leaves you broke and destitute. Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating slightly...but only slightly!

What I'm ever so subtly trying to say is that you need a plan for your website. Right from the very beginning you need to identify its purpose and how it's going to fit into your overall marketing strategy.

For more information, check out another Hub I wrote recently called:

2. Poor Execution

Once you have a plan for your website, it's time to put it into action. And no, not before you have the plan. You should be able to walk into a web designer's office and know exactly what you're looking for.

Because let's face it, web designers don't know how to market your business on the Internet. It's not their job, it's your job. So trying to skimp out on all the work will just leave both sides feeling frustrated and angry. You're the one controlling your web design project, don't ever forget it.

Anyway, getting your company logo and a bit of information about what you offer is just the beginning of your website development. If you want be successful on the Internet, you have to be prepared to go a lot further.

What am I talking about? Content!

You need to create something that attracts your visitors attention and makes them want to communicate with you. Because communication is where the selling process starts.

Let's be honest, how many websites do you visit where you end up buying a product on the first visit? Not many I'd bet. And that's why you have to start a conversation with your visitors.

If they're searching for what you're selling, they're probably interested in information on that subject as well. So give it to them. Offer them all the information you can so they keep coming back for more.

Studies have shown it takes 7 'touches' with a client before they buy. So you need to give them a reason to come back and keep touching you (you can invent your own pun there...).

So the execution of your website comes down to engaging your visitors. For more explanation, here's another handy little Hub I prepared earlier:

3. Ineffective Marketing

Ineffective (or non-existent) marketing is the third cause of web development disasters. Too many small business owners simply develop a website, then sit back and wait for people to visit it.

Sorry, it doesn't work that way!

Now when you have a store on the street, this might work to a certain degree. But on the Internet, where you're competing for attention with 7.6 billion other websites, it's not going to cut the mustard.

You need to get out there and start telling people about your website. But because we've got some marketing common sense up our sleeves, we know we're not actually going to be 'telling them,' right? We're going to be casually dropping it into the conversation and if they're interested, they'll check it out.

Because there's nothing worse than a hard-up salesperson trying to sell you something. Sales and marketing are changing, and you need to change with it. But the bottom line is:

You actually still have to do it!

So work out where your potential clients are having their conversation and start getting involved. No need to start selling to them, just start building relationships with them. Because when you start building relationships, all kinds of good things start to happen.

Now, I don't want to get too carried away with a marketing rant here, so guess what? I've also carefully prepared another Hub, crafted using only the finest ingredients for your digestive pleasure: I just made myself hungry...

Ready To Rethink Your Website?

In all honesty, building a successful website can be difficult. Trust me, I know from experience.

There's just so much noise on the Internet, it's hard to stand up and be heard. That's why it's even more critical to get your small business website working its magic.

Because if you're not bringing something unique and different to the world, it's hard to be heard. Heck, it's even hard to be heard when you have something unique and different.

But if you start now and are prepared to keep slogging away, in time, you'll be reaping the rewards. We all have a lot to learn, but that just makes the journey so much more exciting.

So, best of luck with your website and I'll see you next time. I hope you enjoy the Hubs I'm putting together and they make a difference in your small business life.

And don't forget to rate, comment, and favourite. The people that do will receive an imaginary cookie with the flavour of their choosing!

...and now I'm hungry again...


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    • whostingreview profile image


      8 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      Hey Craig,

      Yes it is important to do research and take action. I think one thing people commonly do is skim their research, or take a little action and give up. You have to be persistent if you want to make it in the world.

    • profile image

      Your Business Website 

      9 years ago

      What an awesome hub, some really good well thought out information!

      I run a small business that specialises in this sort of stuff and I have found your article to be invalulable! I will be certainly pointing some of my clients to this one.

    • Craig Dewe profile imageAUTHOR

      Craig Dewe 

      10 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thanks for reading, I do my best. There's plenty more where this came from. It's just time to write them hehe.

    • freelegitmoney profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice hub i like the details.


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