Common mistakes website owners make

With more than a decade in business of developing and maintaining websites, we have observed a number of common mistakes website owners make. This is especially true for new website owners. They are new to internet and often start their business website with inadequate preparation. The good news is that the common are avoidable. This is easier said than done, however.

The common mistakes are:

  • Failing to see the full potential of a website
  • Its live the job is done
  • Creating or maintaining the website alone
  • Falling for the latest and the greatest technologies
  • Having very high expectations
  • Ignoring web analytics
  • Web content is provided by the web agency
  • It is okay to duplicate content

Failing to see the full potential of a website

Many website owners view the websites as only an expense. While it is true a website costs money to develop and maintain, it has the potential to bring more in sales than what it costs. Of course, generating sales from websites does not happen automatically. As we will explore later in this post, creating and launching websites now days is so easy that a high or middle school student can do it. Such a move could save the business owner some money in the short run but in the long-run it is more costly to the business.

If a business owner is serious about presenting itself to its customers as professional looking and ready for business as possible online, the owner should choose its web team carefully. Most people now use the internet to determine how and where they will shop. This is especially true for services or products that they are buying the first time or have reasons to believe find better quality or price online. These shoppers typically look at more than one website to decide their seller. Of course, they will pick a website that is ready to do business.

Instead of viewing the website as an expense view it as an asset or an employee. An asset is something a business owns and takes care of. Think of the tools, machinery, raw material, building, and more a business owns to stay in and grow the business. While assets do have some costs, a business owner is constantly obligated to determine how best to utilize the available recourses to grow. If the business is not doing that, the business is likely to fail.

If a business views the website as an employee, he/she can see the website works 24/7 without salary and any benefits. It is vital to understand when a customer views the business website the customer is not interacting with the owner or a sales staff to address the customer needs. Therefore, it is the website that should make the sale or lead the customer into the direction of the sale.

So what we are saying is it takes more than just a web-presence for a business to succeed online. If you are looking for a mere online presence to bring more sales, it likely won’t happen. On other hand, presenting the website as professional and ready for business, up-to-date and tuned adequately and regularly is more promising.

Its live the job is done

As we alluded to this in the previous section, launching a website does not equal no more work for the business. In fact, launching a website is about owning one more responsibility. Will a website work perfectly the first time it is launched? If you say, yes, are you prepared to say for many years to come? The truth is a website is seldom a hit the first time it is a lunched. Here we are not talking about just the colors, the navigation, and other elements that make up the website but the website as a whole.

For a business to be successful online, it needs to improve and expand the website offerings continuously. The keyword here is continuously, not one time, two times or three times but rather regularly or continuously. View owing the website as a process (that requires regular input [such as new content, search engine optimization techniques, marketing initiatives, and so on]) to produce the output (inquires, sales, donation, and whatever else you use to measure success). As with any process, if there is no input, there is no output or the output is not what is expected.

Creating or maintaining the website alone

While there are tools to make and launch a website without any knowledge of the web technologies used, the process is not a guaranteed success. It does not matter whether the tool is the greatest or the smartest in the world it won’t be a substitute for those who created or exactly know how it works. If a business owner does not understand the web technologies, it is often best to leave the web tasks to the experts in the field.

The web professional will do the job much better than someone who is creating his/her first website. Web quality does matter. Better looking and functioning websites will win the business over websites that are embarrassing.

Falling for the latest and the greatest technologies

Even if you have the budget, don’t spend it on the latest and the greatest technologies unless of course you are in business of showing of those technologies. Small business owners should be careful about the technologies they ask for or use on their websites. We had a new client who did not notice some graphics were missing on his website for over a year. The owner saw the problem when he bought a new computer to view his website. (The technical explanation is that for some images the website used file paths to his C drive. He discovered the problem because his new computer did not have the graphics yet on the new computer. Otherwise, the problem would have continued.)

This does not mean a website should not be using images, rather be sure whatever you use does work and works for most users of your website. To determine whether something is working, get a second opinion or use a computer that you use less often. Don’t count on using your web agency’s computer to approve the website or new feature to your website is working. Use or authorize use of web technologies that have been proven to work and are widely available for internet use.

Having very high expectations

Websites are not meant to generate millions of dollars in sales everyday if the business’s primary objective is sell candies. Often web owners want to make quick money or expect a fast return on their internet investment. There is nothing wrong with demanding returns on the investment but it helps to align the expectations with reality or business potential.

A website alone does not make money for any business. It is rather the products or services the business sells that makes the sales. A business owner should concentrate on improving or maintaining high quality of its products or services while ensuring the website plays a vital role in marketing and the sales efforts of the business.

Ignoring web analytics

Know how you want to measure success for your online presence. Do you want to review monthly the count of the number of visitors, sales inquires, amount of time spent on the website, actual sales generated by the website, or combination of these? Typically, these measures improve overtime, assuming the website is created and maintained as we suggest. For the first year, these numbers are very low, on average. The second year shows improvement over the first, the third over the second, and so on. So it is helpful to keep this observation in mind when considering the performance of or setting expectations for the website.

Web content is provided by the web agency

Web content is everything you see or expect to see on your website. It includes graphics, text, videos, audio, animations, and so on. Without content, a website is doomed for failure. On other hand, content that is unique, relevant, and up-to-date works best in attracting and making sales.

Sometimes we get clients who think we not only design and develop their website but also write the content. We are not promoting ourselves to be experts of any business expect the technical web business we have chosen to be in. We are not a content writing house but a web agency. For those to-be-website-owners, keep in mind a web agency does not write content for a business. If the agency offers such services, be certain is that you want for your business. Our belief is that there is no one else who knows your business than you or your employees. Best content or ideas for content are often generated by the business rather than from outside.

If you have the budget but no time to write the content, hire a qualified writer temporarily to familiarize with your business. Once trained, then, have this writer write you the content for your business. If you decide to buy the content from a copyright house, make sure it is completely relevant to your business and market.

It is okay to duplicate content

A business owner should not publish image, text, video, audio, animation, or any other file that is not owned by or licensed for use to the business. Believe it or not, companies have the means to search and find other companies that use content without the copyright owner’s permission. We had a client who used an image for a trade show. The image was created by the trade show sponsor and companies exhibiting at the show were encouraged to promote the event (containing the image in question). As is a standard practice, event sponsors create one or few images to promote the event and often encourage its use.

A few years later, our client learned the image was used without permission on his website although technically the image was used without permission first by the event sponsor. Companies that exhibited at the trade show and published the event image on their website were easy target for copyright infringement.

Avoid this mistake. Don’t burrow and publish content from others. Instead, first seek permission from the owner. Once you have the permission (preferably in writing) to publish, only then publish on your website. If your request is denied, it is probably best not to publish the material and save time and money in legal fees.

Summary

Avoid the eight common mistakes we have explored here. Although the mistakes have varying degree of consequences, they should be avoided to be successful online.

If you have any questions regarding the material presented in this post, please let us know. If we work on your project, we will apply the lessons from these mistakes.

Posted on 9/25/2011 3:26:00 PM