Why Most Small Business Websites Suck

We have all been there. We’ve visited a website for a small business and we immediately felt sick. This kind of uneasiness came over us and we couldn’t close our browser quick enough.

Then there are those websites that you arrive at where things just don’t feel right. For some of us, that was enough to leave the site. For others, we chose to venture forth. And yet, at each turn we just kept getting a bad feeling. Things didn’t match up, it didn’t feel like they cared about us, we couldn’t quite work out exactly what they did and whether they could help us. Worst of all, it was virtually impossible to find their contact details.

Why does that happen? Why do we feel that way?

They Look Old And Stale

A classic mistake, not keeping a website up to date and looking good. These sites look like they were created at the turn of the century and haven’t been touched since.

It’s the same as a shop that hasn’t updated their signs for 20 years. They’ve become so dirty and faded that you can barely make out what it says. How confident would you be with that business? How much would you respect their advice? How much would you expect to pay for their services?

Old and tired websites makes us wonder if they care about their business and whether they care for their customers. Clearly they aren’t serious about what they do.

They Don’t Care Or Engage

This is an interesting concept. They don’t care about us. How do we do that. Should we really expect a website/business to care about us? Not surprisingly, the answer is Yes. We want businesses to care about us. Its one of the emotional criteria we have before making a purchase decision.

As we read through the text we find it hard to connect. We don’t feel as though they care about us. All they care about is telling that us they’ve been around for 30 odd years and that they do x, y, z services.

Or worse yet, they describe themselves in the 3rd person. “ABC Pty Ltd has been providing quality services for… they are… they have…” When a customer deals with your business it’s the same as if they are dealing with a real person. Could you image talking with someone who starts talking about themselves in the 3rd person? It becomes a very awkward conversation indeed.

The same thing happens on so many small business websites. It makes it hard to connect and you don’t feel like the business really cares about you and how their service is supposed to help you. They call this illiesm and if you wouldn’t do it yourself, don’t do it for your business.

They Look Fake

Wait, what do you mean they’re fake. They’re a small business website how can they be fake. Surely compared to the corporates a small business would be genuine.

The huge trend in the industry is to use stock photography. It looks professional, is cheap (relatively), and easy. All criteria that speaks loud and clearly to small businesses.

The issue? They’re not you. They don’t give a visitor to your site any insights in to who you actually are. Worse yet, they actually make you a liar and someone that can’t be trusted.

Could you imagine asking a friend to see a picture of their family. To which they pull out an image of a couple of models and their 2 model kids playing on the beach. What would you think of that person. That person that’s prepared to lie to you and make you think they’re someone they aren’t. What makes us as business owners think we can get away with lying to our customers about who we are.

Next time you visit a website and you see stock images, ask yourself the question, do I trust them?

They Commoditise Their Business

How often have you gone to a small business website and all they have is a list of services they offer. Worse still, some even have their pricing and hourly rate on their site. Unless you’re the cheapest service in town (good luck to you if you are), you don’t want people knowing your price from your website. Otherwise people just compare you based on price. Congratulations, your business has just been commoditised. Good luck making money now.

They Don’t Believe

They don’t believe that their website will actually generate leads, opportunities and business. They continue to cling on to old marketing techniques like the Yellow Pages, Letterbox Drops, Bus Advertising, and list goes on and on. Now I’m not saying these don’t work, I’m sure for some businesses they do. But in my experience when you actually track the results I haven’t come across any that actually had a positive return on investment. Yet they forsake their website when it could one of the most profitable forms of advertising they could do.

For most businesses, every dollar spent on marketing must get results. Yet thousands of dollars are wasted every year by not having a compelling message. Doing a letterbox drop of 50,000 flyers is a waste if it doesn’t convince consumers to take action.

This happens far too frequently and it’s often the advertising medium that’s blamed. The real reason is not the medium but the content. The worst part of all, the message could have been simply tweaked to get a completely different outcome.

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