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Article ID: 2928599 - Last Review: February 14, 2014 - Revision: 1.0

By Rieva Lesonsky

Creating a website for your business seems simple enough. But it turns out there are some major pitfalls that even tech-savvy business owners can fall into.

“Your site is an essential part of your brand strategy,” says John Williams, founder and president of LogoGarden.com (http://www.logogarden.com/) . “Because it’s often the first impression consumers get about your company, it needs to instantly and clearly communicate your company’s promise—telling them who you are, what you offer, and how you can help them.”

Jason Teichman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Web.com (http://www.web.com/) , says you have about eight seconds for your site to make a good impression. A site that’s unappealing to its target market, or that functions poorly, can harm a new business more than help it. Williams warns if your website doesn’t perform well, consumers will assume your company doesn’t perform well either.

Here are seven common mistakes entrepreneurs make when creating their first websites:

Mistake No. 1

You don’t include a call-to-action for your customers

Teichman says entrepreneurs too often forget to determine a goal for their websites. “Figure out what you want people to do,” he advises. Do you want to drive business to your store, restaurant, or office? Do you want to have visitors buy something online? Do you want to encourage visitors to call you on the phone or download information from the site? If you’re a service provider, according to Teichman, it’s likely you want consumers to call or make an appointment. But, he adds, “You’d be shocked how many websites don’t have phone numbers on them, or have them hidden at the bottom of the page.”

Mistake No. 2

You make your web design too complicated

While you want your site to be distinctive, both Teichman and Williams warn against going over the top. “Don’t use every technical trick and all the bells and whistles you can find,” Williams says. “If your website doesn’t load quickly and accurately in a visitor’s browser or mobile device, they’ll leave and may not come back.” Teichman adds that many business owners “fall in love with gadgets and widgets, trying to make the site so techy that it takes the human element out of it.”

Williams’ advice? “Choose design elements that enhance your site rather than damage the user experience. Less is more when it comes to web design.” In general, your web pages should be “clean, with relevant images.” Think “simple, easy to follow, and useful.”

This is crucial advice, especially since millions of consumers are turning to their mobile devices instead of their desktops and laptops. For instance, Flash will not load properly on many mobile devices. Make sure you create a version of your site that is optimized for mobile viewing. You can get information about how to do this from dotMobi (http://www.networksolutions.com/mobile-website/index.jsp) , goMobi (http://gomobi.info/) , or several other mobile web design providers (http://mobile-website-builder-review.toptenreviews.com/) .

Mistake No. 3

You copy content from other websites

“It’s dangerous to look like your competitors,” Williams warns. His advice: “Create your own messages, reputation, and strategies, and allow those unique aspects of your business to shine in your website design, promotions, and communications. You need to stand out from the crowd, not blend in.”

Mistake No. 4

You fail to establish your company’s credibility

“Looking credible is especially important if you’re a startup,” Teichman says. “Consumers want to know if they buy from you on Monday that you’ll be around on Wednesday.” He also says a link to your privacy policy should be clearly visible, and advises against having a traffic counter, since “no one wants to be visitor No. 98 (you’re too new) or No. 98,000.”

Mistake No. 5

You let someone else buy your domain name

“Do not delegate buying the domain name to a friend, colleague, or employee,” Teichman advises. All too often that person registers the site in his or her own name. If the employee leaves or stakes a claim, the site ownership can be in dispute. “We get so many calls every day [at Web.com] because of this. Do it yourself,” Teichman urges, “It only takes a few minutes.”

Mistake No. 6

You think once your website is complete, your work is done.

Finishing your site is only the beginning. Getting people to visit the website is your next order of business. Consider joining affiliate programs, sending email newsletters, and partnering with other sites and businesses to build traffic. It might be worth advertising on sites such as Google or Facebook. You should also join online conversations happening on blogs and social media. By publishing comments and sharing your own expertise, you can post links to your relevant content. Above all, be patient. This is not a get-rich-quick effort. Success doesn’t happen overnight.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva (http://twitter.com/Rieva) , visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com (http://www.smallbizdaily.com/) , to get the scoop on business trends, or sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
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