KUCHING: Understanding the five common mistakes websites make and how to avoid them can help small business owners unleash their full potential of their websites.
According to Nic Sim and Krista Goon – founders of Redbox Studio, a web design and marketing services firm and authors of ‘Web Wisdom’ – having a website in today’s digital age is a basic requirement for most businesses as online advertisements gain in popularity and the e-commerce scene continues to boom.
The art of running an effective website for your business has similarly become much more complex.
Sim, a Kuchingnite who has helped businesses design and market their websites for over 19 years, explained that the aim of their book, ‘Web Wisdom’ is to educate entrepreneurs on the ways that they can unleash their full potential of their websites, equipping them with the knowledge to yield websites as an active tool to attracting customers.
During a recent interview with The Borneo Post, Sim highlighted five key mistakes observed in websites and solutions:
1.Using social media as a website
According to Sim, one of the first and biggest mistakes companies make with their websites is using social media as a replacement rather than designing and owning their own website.
“Social media such as Facebook does not belong to you, but your website is your own online property and in business we must always have control of your property,” he explained. “Facebook does not give you the freedom to tailor create a specific experience for your customers and visitors but your very own website can.”
Of course, this does not mean that social media should be abandoned altogether. Sim said social media should instead be used in tandem with websites to act as channels to lead consumers back to your website.
“Websites and social media platforms exist not to replace one another but to complement each other. It is important for businesses to have both, and while social media may seem more attractive due to its larger audience reach, it should never replace your website.”
2. Misuse of social media for news announcements
Following the theme of overdependence of social media, another major mistake companies make is overannouncing news on social media.
“Most people think that all news or announcements must be made on social media in order to inform their customers. However, the correct way is to place the announcement on your website and then make a posting on Facebook, for example, to invite people to further visit your website,” shared Sim.
Placing full announcements on social media is an unwise decision, he opined, as social media content is very flooded and the valuable information may just end up buried under other content.
Joining into the discussion, Goon highlighted that on social media, competition is not just coming from other competitors flooding consumers feed but also postings from their friends and family.
“Due to the overwhelming amount of content found on social media, people generally do not take the time to read an article or a lengthy post unless it really entices them, and the best way to catch the attention of these consumers is through an eye catching photo and a catchy caption with a link back to your own website.”
3. Irrelevant content
Once companies have successfully lured consumers away from the hustle and bustle of social media to your website, Goon asserted that it would be up the respective companies to create a memorable experience.
She went on to explain that many small-medium enterprises (SMEs) especially will tend to go into a prolonged speech about who they are and how they started up.
“A lot of SMEs are excited because they think a website is a chance for them to talk about themselves, which is fine and all, but you need to determine whether the content is capable of capturing the consumers interest. Otherwise it would just be self-glorification.”
Goon suggested that companies should ensure that website contents should be concise and straight to the point with its first page immediately posing a question to visitors that will both engage them but also simultaneously inform them of the products and services that are being offered.
4.Consolidating websites together
Another website content blunder often committed is the act of consolidating different product pages as one singular website.
Sim said for companies with products aimed at drastically different target markets, it is always better to make two separate websites rather than just consolidating them altogether.
“The reason for this is because you are targeting two separate target markets, so what they want to see and want to feel from the website will be totally different. Many people may assume it is okay to do so but really it is rather ineffective to do so.
He notes that even his book has a separate website from his own consulting business as it would be more effective to direct bookstores and consumers to their book website as it helps them get to their objective faster and reduce the chance of them losing interest in their product.
5.Not obtaining mailing lists
Perhaps the biggest mistake in website usage and design is the lack of implementation of mailing lists.
“Mailing lists are a crucial point for every website to have. Rather than worrying about how to capture sales on a consumer’s first visit to your website, it is much more important to obtain
their contact information,” Sim opines.
While e-commerce is starting to be a common scene for many of us, there are still many uncertainties that it brings as customers cannot physically try, feel or see the product before purchase.
It will take a level of trust for them to commit to a purchase and even with offerings of free returns, many may find the effort of returning the product too steep a price to overcome the lack of trust.
In response to this, Goon encouraged companies to remove as much uncertainty and nurture trust through monthly updates and reminders.
“This is actually a technique that we teach our clients regularly because we feel a lot of people expects consumers to immediately place orders or request further information on their first visit to the company website.
“But the reality is this does not happen unless you already have an established rep and brand name. SMEs in particular may find this hard to overcome and hence mailing lists are an excellent tool for them to try and forge a
relationship and trust with their consumer in order to drive business.”