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6 Small Business Web Design Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

Designing a website and want to avoid common small business web design mistakes & technical errors that could reduce lead conversion?

We’ve listed six small business web design mistakes that you can find littered throughout the internet, along with some ways to avoid these problems.

In this post, we’ll cover these design mistakes:

  1. Lack of analytic performance data
  2. Missing a call to action
  3. Weak storytelling
  4. Stale articles
  5. No mobile version of your site
  6. Not optimized for organic search

Let’s start with the back-end of things…


1. Lack of Analytic Performance Data

Many people successfully set up their website without ever setting up a way to analyze how much traffic they’re receiving!

The software and process of observing your site’s traffic trends is called “analytics.” Not implementing analytics is one of the worst mistakes you could make for your new website.

How do you know what pages are getting the most amount of traffic? How do you know where your visitors ‘drop off,’ i.e. leave your site?

These analytics provide invaluable data, allowing you to know what’s working and what isn’t. Shockingly, in 2019 less than 30% of small businesses use analytic tools, call tracking or coupon codes to track their performance. Perhaps this is why they remain small businesses!

Analytics gives you the ability to track, test, and adjust your online marketing strategies.

If an aesthetic change in your site leads to less traffic, you might reconsider your design.

If a posted blog brings in more visitors, you might consider creating more content in that vein.

The adjustments are often intuitive and straightforward, but you won’t know if you need to make them if you don’t have an analytic tool set up.


The Quick Fix: Google Analytics

The most widely used analytic tool is Google Analytics. It provides tons of information, including user behaviours. You can even use it to set up goals to help your business growth stay on track.

Google makes its millions by collecting and examining user data. Use this to your advantage.

Google Analytics will allow you to peek behind the curtain and see how your users are acting, how long they stay on your site, and where they came from.

An example of what data you can uncover using Google Analytics
An example of what data you can uncover using Google Analytics

HubSpot has an excellent step-by-step guide on how to set up your Google Analytics account if you haven’t already. Check it out!

WordPress websites can easily take advantage of Google Analytics by installing the plugin called MonsterInsights. MonsterInsights is free and swiftly connects your site to Google Analytics. It opens up a whole world of digital marketing that allows you to target your desired audience.

Now unto design…


2. Missing a Call to Action

Missing calls to action are one of the most common small business web design mistakes we run across.

Calls to action (also known as CTAs) are verbal prompts that usually appear at the end of an article and prompt the reader to take a specific action, typically by following a link.

For example, an article about the top ten best Manuka honey would link you to a place where you could buy the honey coupled with a persuasive command, such as: Buy the best tasting Manuka honey from a trusted seller. 

Without a CTA, your readers are less likely to engage and take action (such as sign up for a service or buy a product).

It may seem that a single sentence is pulling a lot of weight. Well, it’s. If your readers aren’t told where to go or how to feel by the end, they probably won’t give you the reaction you’re hoping for.


Quick Fix: One Clear, Direct Call to Action

Some calls to action are better than others. Calls to action aren’t the place to get creative – it’s far better to be clear than to be flowery.

Calls to action are imperatives by their nature. They’re commands worded politely. Think about the times that you have commanded people in your life. You probably weren’t flowery.

An example of ONE call to action on a page
An example of ONE call to action on a page

Be clear. Be direct. Use cut and dry language. Some examples of strong calls to action include:

  • Add this item to your cart
  • Get started today
  • Sign me up
  • Subscribe to newsletter
  • Buy now
  • Visit the Blankety Clinic for a consultation
  • Create an account for a 10% discount
  • Get Pricing
  • Book an appointment


The particularities of your call to action will vary from business to business, but not having a call to action is a major mistake.

Ensure you have one call to action per page because if you give your audience too many choices, it will confuse them and lead to no action at all.

Examples of too many calls to action
An example of too many CTAs on a Home page

For each page, what do you want your visitors to do? Book an appointment, read an article or call you? Come up with one and use that as your CTA.


3. Weak Storytelling

Modern businesses are increasingly aware of the fact that a good story sells.

Your philosophy, your brand history, and where you’re going as a company are all contained in your story.

Make sure that this story is compelling. Otherwise, you’re committing one of the more serious small business web design mistakes.

If your website content or layout is unattractive, 38% of users will stop engaging with your site!  Spend all the time you need to create fantastic website copy along with design because it can make or break your site.

Brands that fail to clearly outline who they are, and what they’re about, quickly fall to the wayside. Those brands with compelling stories can promptly go from start-up to billion-dollar companies in record time.

In recent history, Dollar Shave Club has done just this. Modern people don’t merely want to buy products and services from a company. They want to know that supporting the company supports a better world. Your story should convince them of that.


Action Plan: Clear Brand Messaging

Take some time to consider your story. Where does it begin? Where has it led you? Where do you want it to take you? These are the beginning, middle, and end of your story.

Make your message clear, and your journey apparent. Once you have your story down pack, you need to present it on your website clearly and concisely.

Copywriting Tips

Simplify Your Writing:

People scan websites – you only have seconds to capture their attention. Make sure your site copy is to the point and includes the most crucial information that your visitors must know.

After scrolling through your website, users should be able to answer the following questions in their minds:

  • What is this site about?
  • Does it capture my interest?
  • Can I trust them?
  • What am I supposed to do (CTA)?
Copywriting Tips example
An example of Pardot’s clear and to-the-point copywriting on their Home page. Outlined in yellow – what they do. In red – who’s this for. In orange – builds credibility. In purple – what customers can achieve. In green – how to act.

Use Less ‘We’:

Start each sentence with a verb. For example, instead of writing, “We bake the best cheesecakes in town!” say, “Try the most delicious cheesecakes in town!” Make it less about you and more about what your visitor can expect by working or buying from you. Which leads to…

Make the Customer the Hero:

Leave your accolades and ‘Featured in’ mentions for the About Us page or to one section on your Home page. You’re not the hero of the story, the customer is. Describe what your potential customer can achieve with your business instead of what you’ve accomplished.

Highlight the Benefits:

Customers want to know how you can help them with their problem and why they should choose you over your competition.

Instead of writing essays on your home page and forcing your visitors to deduce on their own the benefits of working with you (which, by the way, won’t happen since you only have seconds to keep their attention, remember?) make it easy by doing it for them.

Every sentence should highlight the benefit of your offering, convincing your visitor to take action. How are you helping them solve their problems? Be the guide, like Yoda!

Marketing specialists have predicted that brand messaging will quickly become the number one factor in online success. Create a positive “halo” around your brand. Associate it with positive things that make people feel good to support you. And be clear and to the point.


4. Stale Articles

Your content is the primary substance of your site, but it’s also essential for another reason: search engine optimization. Also known as SEO, search engine optimization means that your site rises to the top of the search results when people ask a relevant question.

What does this have to do with “stale” articles? Well, modern search engines tend to prioritize fresh content, especially from websites that post consistently. If your content is old or is published irregularly, then you won’t rise to the top of the results.

Search engines have tried many approaches to what they allow to rise to the top. All of them have been gamed by the sites that want to direct traffic their way.

If you’re not attempting to take advantage of the search engine algorithm, then your website will be buried beneath the scores of those that are.

Action Plan: Fresh, Consistent Content

A blog or a series of news articles can help to bring traffic to your site. Think about what’s in the current events. Think about how that can be related to your product and write an article that ties the two together.

Write about your industry and this year’s trends. How about a how-to guide helping your visitors solve a problem on their own?

By writing content regularly and making sure it’s helpful, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader in your community, building trust and, ultimately, nurturing your prospects.

If you and your staff are not exactly wordsmiths, there are plenty of platforms online (like Upwork) where you can search for content writers to generate articles for you. With fresh, consistently posted content, you will give your site the best chance to rise to the top of the search results and position yourself as an expert in your industry.


5. No Mobile Version of Your Site

It’s official: more people use their phones to surf the web than their desktop or laptop browsers.

If your website doesn’t have a mobile experience, you’ll miss out on traffic and Google will penalize your site by downgrading your rankings!

57% of users claim they would never recommend a business that has a poorly designed mobile site. Market data has also indicated that users are over 60% more likely to buy a product on their phone than their laptop. For this reason, businesses are focusing on a mobile-first approach when it comes to small business website design; this is an inevitable shift.

Action Plan: Ensure Mobile Responsive Capability. Test on Mobile!

Many website design platforms like Wix offer tools to help you build the mobile version of your site. Some platforms like SquareSpace even do it automatically for you. However, there are often little kinks that need to be ironed out when the software translates your site to a mobile version. Be wary!

If you’re building your website on WordPress, ensure your developer has the experience to create a mobile-friendly site and will do it for you as part of the contract.

Before launch, test the website extensively to ensure all menus and buttons work correctly. Once launched, ask your close friends and family to go through every page thoroughly and to send you feedback.

If something isn’t working, your mobile users will leave the site out of frustration! Stop this from occurring from the get-go. You can use this free tool from Google to see if your website is responsive on mobile.

We also recommend that you test your site on all mobile browsers (Chrome, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, Bing).


6. Not Optimized for Organic Search

Ranking organically in the top search results isn’t easy. Google has over 200 ranking factors that come into play when analyzing and classifying websites. Every year, Google introduces new factors to make things even more difficult for small business owners.

Not to worry, there are basic things that you can do to ensure your website is prepped for Google indexation.

Quick Fix: On-Page SEO Tactics

Copy Length:

Make sure each website page is longer than 250 words, giving text crawlers enough information to understand what your site is about.

Use Keywords:

Keywords are the search terms that people use to find you and your product/service.

To get an idea of which keywords to choose, use the Google Keyword Planner Tool (contact Google Support to verify and unlock all of the features of your account to access this tool), or the Keywords Everywhere browser extension to find high-volume, low competition keywords.

Write each page with one keyword in mind.

Ensure the keyword is in:

  • The main header (hero section)
  • Subtitle (if you have one)
  • URL
  • Image alt-tags
  • Appears in the first few sentences and several times throughout the page


Add Meta Tags:

Before launch, ensure each page has a unique title, description and keyword. Platforms like Wix and SquareSpace have this feature built-in. Simply go into your Settings for each page, find the SEO section and plug things in.

If you’re using WordPress, you or your developer can install the Yoast SEO Plugin, allowing you to input the desired meta tags for each page.

Avoid these Small Business Web Design Mistakes

It can be quite overwhelming when prepping, designing and launching a site! These tips are a good starting point for small business owners who want to do it themselves.

If you don’t have the time, reach out to us and we’ll incorporate these best practices in your project so that your site will not only be beautiful but will convert visitors into sales.

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