By Abhi Golhar
Business owners often spend thousands of dollars to enhance their web presence. I know I have! Why? Because competing today requires a great-looking, functional website. Some might even lose sleep over their failing web engagement numbers. Still, these business owners can make major mistakes that are entirely preventable. Here are nine of the most common mistakes, which I've made as well, that might hold a business back from truly maximizing its online upside.
Having a Domain That's Difficult to Spell or Remember
As a business owner, you should be engaged in a constant process of transformative empathy. Remember in all of your decisions that it's about the customer, not you. This is especially true of your domain name. It should be something that the customer can easily recall with little effort. Your domain name will rarely win more business, but it can lose business if customers can't find your site. I've made this mistake more times than I can remember and have found tremendous success with a name that's memorable and easy to spell.
Building Your Website on a Platform That Isn't Yours
If you're building on a platform you don't own, you're always at the mercy of some other company. If you're going to invest money and time into trying to grow your web presence, you should at least have control over this part. It'd be a shame to see all of your hard work go to waste because of some problem with the web platform you've chosen to use.
Using Email Addresses That Lack Personalization and Professionalism
If you're going to spend a good amount of money on a domain name for your website, you should take the steps necessary to leverage that domain in your email processes. It's fine if you want to use Gmail or Outlook to process your emails, but your customer-facing email address should always present your domain name. Customers will take you more seriously this way. If you fail to leverage your domain in your email processes, you may find that customers question your legitimacy. This is especially true for those businesses that lack an offline presence. No more email@example.com, folks -- it's always firstname.lastname@example.org.
Automatically Sending Customers to a Mobile Site
Today's business owners have to account for people's tendency to use their phones to access the internet. Having a web design that is mobile friendly is an excellent first step to providing the kind of experience that will please your customers. One big mistake, though, is automatically redirecting customers to a separate mobile site. When customers choose to go directly to your primary site, they probably do so for a reason. Many can get angry when they're automatically sent elsewhere. The key is to ensure that your primary site is optimized in such a way that it can accept mobile visitors without a problem. Something to consider is using Wordpress plugins to optimize the way your website looks on mobile. I have, and it works!
Skimping on Speed
When you're spending good money on web design, you should also consider the importance of speed. Consumers today are more interested than ever in quick service. They don't want to wait even a few seconds for your site to load or process their request. It may make more sense to spend your money on a faster infrastructure rather than the glitz and glamour of a beautiful web design. In an ideal scenario, you'll be able to afford both a quality design and a build that optimizes that speed.
Failing to Check the Website's Access Daily
One of the most important things you can do is quality control for your own web access. When visitors come to your site, you'll lose their trust if they're presented with a message that it is dangerous or unavailable. The more visitors who get this message, the worse the result will be. Be sure to have a process in place to check your site every day to catch these problems before they wreck your reputation.
Being Slow to Get on the SSL Train
It's a simple thing to move from "http" to "https." A smart web business owner will make this move sooner rather than later. By moving to SSL, you'll improve the speed of your site while also providing a more secure experience for visitors.
Maintaining an Outdated Design
Website visitors will be able to spot an outdated design. People spend so much time on the internet today that they're exposed to the newest web design techniques. While most customers aren't experts in web design, they'll have a good sense of which sites work well and which do not. Today's modern web design techniques are more than good art. They're about ease of experience. While old designs might have been fulfilling in the past, customers will change their expectations as their experiences improve with your competitors. If you're going to do serious business online, think hard about making an updated design an ongoing part of your budget.
Having a Hosting Agreement That Limits Your Upside
Read the fine print of the web hosting agreement you signed. With many hosts, you'll be limited in how much bandwidth you can use. In some cases, they may be able to take you offline for a while or even charge an additional fee if you have a really good day or week. You should never agree to a deal that limits your upside. For web business owners, having your website explode in popularity is always the goal. Your hosting platform should be rooting for your success rather than your failure.
As a business owner, there are some mistakes that are inexcusable. If you want to be successful on the web, avoid the things listed above. Most of the success in this area revolves around clarity and understanding what your customers are looking for. If you spend some time and money investing in a good experience for them, you'll reap the benefit when the time comes.
Abhi Golhar is host of the daily radio show, Real Estate Deal Talk, and managing partner of Summit & Crowne, a real estate investment firm.