I’ll admit it, I’m a snob. When researching new business (whether I need a service or a product) a bad website is an immediate no-go. Simultaneously, I do ALL my research online, so how would I ever give you my money if there’s no way to find you?
It’s 2023 (I checked the calendar this morning) and that means that having an online presence is absolutely essential for small businesses to succeed. However, not all websites are created equal. A poorly designed and difficult-to-use website can leave a bad impression on visitors and potentially harm your brand. In contrast, having no website at all can limit your visibility and make it harder for potential customers to find you.
So, is it better to have a terrible website or none at all? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each option and provide actionable steps to create a website that is both effective and engaging.
The drawbacks of a terrible website
A bad website can harm your brand and reputation in several ways. Here are some of the key drawbacks:
Poor User Experience
A website that is difficult to navigate, slow to load or cluttered with ads can be frustrating for visitors. If users can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they will leave your site and quite possibly never come back.
Negative Impact On Search Rankings
Search engines like Google prioritize user experience, so if your website is not user-friendly, you could be penalized in search rankings. This could further harm your online presence and make it harder for potential customers to find you.
Negative Impression On Visitors
Perhaps the most dangerous of all, a bad website can make your brand look unprofessional and untrustworthy. Visitors are likely to assume that if you don’t put any effort into your website, you don’t put meaningful effort into other aspects of your business either.
The drawbacks of no website
On the other hand, not having a website can severely limit your visibility and make it harder for potential customers to find you. Here are some of the key drawbacks:
Without a website, you’re missing out on the potential to reach a wider audience online. 99.99999999999% of your potential customers use search engines to find products and services, and if you’re not online, you may not show up in their search results. (Pro tip: Click here to read about a tactic to show up the right way on Google).
We are smack dab in the middle of the “digital age,” so having a website is both a sign of credibility and professionalism. Without a website, potential customers are left to assume that your business is either too small or too behind the times.
Your website is a great way to provide potential customers with information about your products, services and business overall. Without a website, it can be harder to communicate any and all of this information concisely or effectively.
What makes a bad website bad?
Chances are “you’ll know it when you see it,” but in case you don’t have the keenest of eyes for digital development, let’s look at some key elements of a “terrible” website. Here are some things that can harm your website’s user experience and credibility:
Sometimes, image is everything. A website that looks outdated, cluttered or unprofessional can leave a negative impression on visitors. Make sure your website is visually appealing, easy to navigate and reflects your brand’s personality and values.
Slow Loading Times
If your website takes too long to load, visitors may lose patience and leave and search engines will ding you big time. Make sure your website is optimized for speed by compressing images, using caching and minimizing code. Better yet, take advantage of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare or Fastly to give you an added speed boost (and some additional protection).
If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for on your website, they’ll leave… frustrated. Make sure your website’s navigation is intuitive and easy to use (test it on Grandma), with clear labels and logical groupings.
Lack Of Mobile Optimization
According to a new report released this month, 60.7% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices, making it absolutely crucial that your website is optimized for mobile. Make sure your website is fully responsive, meaning it adjusts to different screen sizes, and that all content is accessible on mobile.
This one’s simple. If your website’s content is poorly written, outdated (hello “copyright 2020” in the footer) or irrelevant, visitors won’t see your brand as credible. Period.
How to create an effective website
So, how can you create a website that is effective and engaging? I’ll tackle this in much more depth in a future post, but here are some actionable steps to take right now:
Define Your Goals And Target Audience
Before you start building your website, take the time to define your goals and target audience. Understanding these factors will help you make design and content decisions that are aligned with your business objectives.
Invest In A Professional Design
A professionally designed site can help establish your brand’s credibility while simultaneously making your website more visually appealing and user-friendly. Consider hiring a professional designer or using a website builder (like Wix or SquareSpace) with pre-designed templates that you can customize to fit your brand’s aesthetic.
Optimize For Search Engines
To ensure that your website is discoverable online, it’s important to optimize it for search engines. This includes using relevant keywords in your content, making sure all your images have relevant titles and descriptions, and building quality backlinks from other reputable websites.
Craft Engaging And Informative Content
Your website’s content is one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining visitors. Create high-quality, engaging, informative content relevant to your target audience. Use a clear and concise writing style (think small digestible bites) and include visuals like images and videos to break up the text. Consider creating an ongoing content strategy to ensure that your website’s content stays fresh and relevant over time.
To establish a successful online presence, small businesses need a website that effectively communicates their value proposition, attracts new customers and builds credibility. While having no website can limit visibility, having a poorly designed and difficult-to-use website can harm a brand’s reputation, turning off potential customers entirely. Now more than ever, it’s critical to take action to improve your site’s user experience and design, thereby solidifying your business’s online cred.
By implementing the necessary steps your website will reflect your brand’s unique personality and values, engage your new target audience and get new customers through your door.