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5 Common Web Site Development Mistakes of Small Business

Here's some mistakes to avoid when selecting or building your Web site. You know on those days when you have to wear your tech hat.

1) No Value - Too Simple

This is probably the most common mistake made by small business owners online. The site has little value for the service or product their offering. Often it starts out as a "brochure" site. Meaning their current offline marketing material is put online. Unfortunately many sites never progress past this point.

Now don't get me wrong at leasts it's a start, but it may not be enough.

You need to take a hard look an ask if there is anything of real value for the customer once they get there. Does it go beyond your contact information and service offering? Does it need to?

You can build a brochure site, but you might quickly find it's not getting the results you expected.

2) Overkill

This mistake goes in the opposite direction. These sites fall in two categories:

They either are so loaded with content that the customer says "oh no, I don't want to work this hard" or the site has been so "over-teched" the lights dim in your house when you access it.

The first site suffers from a lack of proper categorization and navigation. Probably the designer read one too many books on effective Web sites - 50 articles per topic minimum of 10 topics, blah, blah, blah. It misses the critical difference between mass marketing and local community marketing. The fact is of the 100 articles on your web site 5 of them are being read if you're lucky!

Now the second site, the bandwidth hog, suffers from mis-guided flash intros, excessive movie downloads, cute images sliding in and off the page, and all of this is happening at the same time. You can almost hear the customer crying out "I just want to schedule an appointment online".

3) The "All In the Family" Site

Also known as the relative site. Be it your talented son of 16 or your brother-in-law who knows all about this technical stuff, the site was designed, developed, and released by someone in the family who is "very technical". The chance of success of these sites is very low because it's not the technical side of a site that makes or breaks it for small business, it's the business side. How much does your 16 year old son know about your business? Or more importantly how much does he care to learn?

4) Free Web Site with Purchase of Candy Bar

Yeah, it's almost got to that point. Web sites for free! Anyone can have one like giving away a promotional magnet for my refrigerator (actually promotional magnets are much more effective). Costs nothing, design it in minutes. However, most are worth nothing and are a waste of time and effort.

5) Over Priced and Difficult to Change

The business owner looking for something really "special". Cost is not the issue. This mistake can have significant ramifications because you can spend a lot of money and then realize you need something different. Make sure you get a site that you can change easily. Not a site that the company you hired can change easily, but that you can change. Make sure YOU see how easy it is to change before you agree.

Web sites offer you the opportunity to try different ideas, promotions and services quickly. The Web site you launch today will not be the Web site you need in six months. Small business owners are reluctant to re-design or change Web sites because of cost and experience.

Make sure that the Web site you buy at a minimum is database driven, supports templates, and can be changed by anyone, not just the "original manufacturer".

Submitted by:

Robert Flenner

Robert Flenner is founder of www.bentgrassgraphics.com devoted to community oriented small businesses. His articles have appeared on many web sites such as O'Reilly, and is the author of a number of books on emerging technologies and ecommerce. He can be reached at rflenner@bentgrassgraphics.com .





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