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Grow Your Business Technology

Building Your Own Business Website? 4 Mistakes to Avoid

DIY business website
Credit: JMiks/Shutterstock

Your website is the public face of your business, and it dramatically affects your credibility. A well-designed, informative website will leave a favorable (or at least a neutral) impression, but a poorly executed website drives customers away. If your website appears amateurish, outdated, and generally seems like an afterthought, people will make similar assumptions about your business.

Thankfully, you don't have to be a brilliant web designer, or even know HTML, to create a website that serves your business well. Platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are intuitive and provide small business owners with clean, modern templates and a range of useful built-in features.

However, even the best website creation program alone cannot guarantee an excellent business website. As a designer, you need to know the basics of building a good website and the common mistakes to avoid.

Below, professional website creators offer their tips for creating an irresistible website.

Your website is not the place to go overboard trying to impress potential customers with advanced web design techniques, a wacky sense of humor or visionary thinking. This approach may seem central to your brand messaging, but it can potentially backfire.

Your website is there to communicate the essential facts about your business.  A customer should understand, after visiting your website, how your product or service will benefit them.

Write concisely and make sure visitors can easily find what they're looking for. Innovation might be important to your business, but you can often communicate that best by showcasing examples of your work in a clearly labeled, easy-to-navigate portfolio.

The purpose of a business website is to drive more customers to your products and services. If you offer products for sale, link to your web store and/or provide a directory of retailers. If you provide a service, offer a link to request a quote or schedule a consultation – clearly direct customers what they should do as the next step.

Also be sure to provide a way customers can easily reach you. An unexplained Contact Us form is not self-explanatory or particularly inviting. Make sure the customer knows what information to include in their message and when they should expect to hear back from you, or they may assume it goes directly to an unmonitored mailbox.

Some of the worst small business websites appear frozen in time – decades ago. You know these websites: They feature a truly disorienting arrangement of fonts and images. Website builders, such as those mentioned above, can smooth out the most glaring design flaws and give your website a modern look and feel. However, there's still the potential that your website may appear "generic." While that may not immediately turn customers off, it does mean your customers will have a harder time distinguishing you from the competition.

A well-designed logo can make your business more memorable. If your product is visually appealing, display an image of it prominently, especially if you sell it directly from your website. That alone may be enough to drive purchases. Consider outsourcing design or photography if you don't have the in-house staff. The investment will pay off.

You may offer a great product or service, but if the copyright date listed on the bottom of your website is the only sign that it's up-to-date, people will wonder if you're actually still in business.

Maintain an active social media presence, even if it's not central to your marketing strategy. It helps drive traffic to your website and provides additional means for customers to contact you.

Further, regularly post content and engage with customers on multiple social media channels. Provide links on your website to your social media profiles or embed feeds on your website (but make sure it's not cluttered). Finally, if it's relevant, consider maintaining a company blog, partly as a means of regularly updating your customers about your company, products, or services, but only do this if you have the time to update the blog weekly.

Ethan Spielman

Ethan Spielman is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn. He's open to most experiences, including nearly all experiences involving words. If you're interested in his services, you can reach him at ethanspielman@gmail.com.