Super Common Small Business Website Mistakes

website mistakes

Does your small business make these common website mistakes? Make just one and you are losing customers & leaving money on the table!

I put down my editing pen after the second last proofread over the web copy that I had written for a cabinetmaking website. Ten website pages. One long day. Loads of coffee … and did I mention the 48+ websites I combed through for research?

With every new website project, I explore a stack of competing small business websites, and I keep seeing the same mistakes being made across website after website.

I am not talking about the websites that are simply dated or not mobile responsive. I am talking about the little teeny tiny mistakes that throw off the user experience and are unwittingly turning away potential clients … And it drives me wild because these website mistakes are so easy to fix!

1. It’s Not All About You!

I know you are proud of your business, and your website, but if every web page talks about how wonderful you are, your history and your fabulous family, I am afraid that there is no room in the relationship for anyone else. It is the online equivalent of “Enough about me, what do YOU think about me?”

Websites should be all about your customers and their needs. Your website needs to answer all the questions that your prospective customers ask.

Imagine the customer is standing in front of you and you are talking directly with them. Answer their questions and stop talking about you!

There are copywriting techniques that can be used on pages such as the “About Us” page that talk about you, but you still need to do it in a way that turns the conversation back to the customers and not so much about you.

2. Your Menu is Scrambled

Many small business websites have their navigation menus designed by the same person who files using the protocol “I will put it under P for paper.”

There is a custom and practice for the order of website menus. If you mix up the order, you make the customer confused.

A confused mind says no

What is the order? Home on the extreme left. Contact Us on the extreme right.

The bits in the middle are usually ordered by importance, with the most important bits towards the outer edges.

Don’t make people hunt for your contact information! You are not playing hide and seek and you don’t win a prize if the person can’t find you. If you want people to contact you – then put your contact page in the right place in your menu! Also don’t forget to put your phone number in the top right hand corner of your header bar.

Don’t hide contact info. You’re not playing hide & seek. There’s no prize if you’re not found.

Read more about ways to sort your navigation

3. Silence is NOT Golden

Many small business owners are people of few words. They are no-nonsense types who believe that less is more.

When they use this same strategy on their websites, they end up with web pages with approximately 10 words on them per page that are simple dot point lists of their services (e.g. we make kitchens, laundry cupboards and vanities.)

To see why this is a problem, let’s look at a warm, fuzzy recruitment analogy.

Let’s pretend you are hiring for a receptionist role. When you are recruiting for a new employee, you look at the resumes of the candidates.

In front of you are two candidates.

Candidate One

Job History: ABC company.

Job duties:


Candidate Two

Job History: ABC company.

Job duties:

Receptionist – Responsible for answering and directing calls for a 20 line switchboard within 3 rings; Managing the bookings and catering for 5 conference rooms delivering a 95% customer satisfaction rating for the rooms; Arranging multiple courier pick-ups and deliveries ensuring 100% overnight delivery of all parcels; Entering all incoming mail into the CRM within 2 hours of mail delivery.

If you had both resumes in front of you, which would you interview?

Your website is you applying for a job and your client is your potential employer.

Your website is your resume for your company. The words on your website needs to show not only the bare bones of what you do but provide enough details to help a potential hirer know precisely what you do and why they should hire you.

The mantra I use for website copy and for resumes is the same.

Tell people:

  • What you did
  • How you did it
  • How you know you were good at it.

If you only provide one-word answers and your competitors have more robust responses, you are simply not competitive and your phone will not ring.

Words matter. They matter to your clients and they matter to Google. Yes, you do need words for your website! Lots of glorious, rich and interesting ones.

4. The Scrapbooked Site

This is the mirror opposite of the “Silence is not golden” website. With these websites, the owner obviously has the skills to add words to their site as they see fit.

And they do. Lots of words. All over the place. And in no particular order.

These words have a few additional quirky traits.

Either they hunt as a very tight pack of words, not allowing any white space to be seen amongst long blocks of black letters, or they are scattered along the page like confetti after Mardi Gras, making it hard to work out one continuous thought.

The grammar, spelling and the tense of the words used on a scrapbooked site can be best described as as professional as a macaroni necklace threaded on wool.

These sites often reflect creative owners who have loads and loads of interests but can’t quite nail down what their business is really about.

As a result, the site ends up as a colourful, eclectic mix of random findings, and the home page tries to knit all the threads together: “We are carpenters who also do a bit of basket weaving and artisanal bread baking.

Unfortunately, what is a wonderfully exuberant creative jumble for the owner is like wading through custard for visitors. They can’t work out where to start – let alone where or what to buy.

About the Author

Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle (BA - Psych/Industrial Relations) is the Chief Web Wizard at Heart Harmony Communications. A self-confessed multipotentialite, Ingrid shamelessly blends her passions of human resources, psychology, web design and copywriting. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.
Bowler hat with lightbulb.

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