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10 Small Business Website Mistakes

Starting a small business is tough. The long hours ensuring you have enough product, enough time, enough cash flow, enough marketing, and most importantly, enough customers, can seem overwhelming, but this is YOUR business and nothing can be as fulfilling and rewarding when things are done right and you see progress. One of the most, if not THE most important aspects of any business is it’s online marketing and business website. You may have the best product or service out there, but if you can’t execute online properly, you are in trouble.

Many times businesses fall short with their online marketing from simple mistakes, and other time HUGE mistakes. These oversights can drive away business and often lead to your competitor grabbing up that business. In fact 40% of people surveyed say they have turned to a competitors website after viewing a poorly design one.

So here are some of the most common errors small businesses make when building their online presence.

#1. Not Having A Website!

The year is 2015, and if you have a business and don’t feel the need to have a website to compete, you are kidding yourself. Aside from people having no way of finding your business while searching online, you have no way of communicating the products or services you provide. Sure you can list your business with yellowpages, but how effective will that be when your competitor is also listed under the same category and they have a beautiful website. The answer: not effective at all. You will be skipped over and lose that potential customer. Don’t make this mistake, get yourself a website ASAP

#2. Thinking Any Website Is Good Enough

Another mistake businesses will often make is thinking that having a website is good enough without any consideration of design, content or user experience. As mentioned above, there is a 40% chance people viewing your poorly designed website will go to a competitor based solely on appearances. Harsh I know, but it is a reality. People will have an instant judgement of the credibility of your business based on the website you have presented. If your website is hard to navigate, confusing, cluttered and looks like it was built in 2001 (or *cringe* earlier) you have a problem that is going to affect your bottom line. Now before your run off and start making your own website, please see #3 below.

#3. Taking The DIY Route And Building Your Own Site

Web design is not rocket science, but it is a skill that requires a keen eye for design and user experience that is best left up to the pros. Thinking you can save money by building a DIY website will not only cost you customers (as mentioned above), but it will also cost you the most precious asset you have, and that’s your time. You may spend hours and hours and days and weeks putting together this DIY website and in the end you will be hurting yourself and then needing to hire someone professional to fix things. So save yourself the time and focus on what you do best, and hire someone to do what they do best, which is make an awesome website.

#4. Not Having A Mobile Friendly Website

There used to be a time where websites were only being viewed on your desktop computer, but those days are long gone and today mobile is King. Your business cannot afford to not have a mobile friendly website. Over 50% of internet searches now occur on smart devices and if your website is not mobile friendly, there is a big chance you won’t convert that person into a paying customer. In fact 67% of users say that they are more likely to use a business that has a mobile friendly website. If that isn’t reason enough, then consider that Google loves websites that are responsive and mobile friendly, so your chance of ranking higher in searches is greatly improved if you a mobile friendly website.

#5. Not Taking Advantage of Social Media Integration

We are undoubtedly living in the age of social media and for any business, big or small, it can be one of your greatest tools to connect with potential customers, and loyal customers. A wise man once said that “No Man is an Island” and this holds true for your website. It’s fantastic that you have a beautiful mobile friendly website, but that shouldn’t stand alone waiting for people to discover, you should be driving traffic through Facebook, Twitter, Google + and depending on the type of business you run, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Creating engaging posts is only part of a great social media campaign, engaging with people is how you really succeed.

Too often I come across Facebook pages and Twitter accounts where potential customer’s questions and comments are left ignored. This is an easy to way to have your business ignored and potentially seen as no longer operating. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! Respond to them. Like and favourite their comments. This is the best way to drive people to your website, and having social media widgets on your website is the best way to drive engagement with people on your social media channels. Utilize this feedback loop and your returns will be noticeable.

#6. Bad Design

I feel like I might be repeating myself here, as I mentioned in #2 and #3, bad design can be a big detriment to your business. People judge your business based on how your site looks and works, and if it’s bad, you have just lost yourself a potential customer. So what does “bad design” mean? Bad design is myriad of different things that can be happening right now with your website or could happen if you try and DIY your way to a cheap solution. Clashing colours, terrible font choices, confusing layouts, hard to navigate menus, cluttered pages, poorly aligned content, walls of text, broken links, animated clip art, and the worst of the worst Flash! If your website has any flash on it right now, put down whatever you are doing and contact me! There is nothing more annoying than having to update a Flash plugin for a website to work.

All these things mentioned are a sure fire way for people to think your business is not worth their time or money. You might think having a wall of text with 3 different typefaces that blink blue is eye catching, but it’s not, and you need to hire a pro. If you have broken links or a website that aligns to the left side of the screen, people might think you’ve gone out of business or your attention to detail is worrisome enough to look elsewhere for that product or service. You need to hire a pro. If you think hiring a pro is not where you want some of your marketing budget going, please see #3, step away from MS Paint and contact New Black Creative for a quote.

#7. Content Overload and Stale Information

Content is crucial for any business website, but having too much content can be overwhelming to the viewer and often times lead them off your website. It is important to be concise with your written content and not rely on walls and walls of text. Viewers will often come to your website looking for information and skim your content looking for key points. If your content is too lengthy, very stale and potentially out dated, visitors to your site will become disinterested and move on to another website. Keep it short, keep it fresh, and have a call to action!

#8. Using PDF files

Using a PDF file may seem like an easier way to display content on your website, but it’s not and most importantly, it’s super annoying. I personally encounter this method all the time, especially in the restaurant business, and if I click to view a menu and a separate browser window opens and loads a pdf file, I leave that site. Call me an internet snob, I am, and have little problem admitting that. Information should be displayed on a web page. Period. If you think you need to have a pdf so people can print a form, or keep a copy of a menu, just make your web pages printer friendly.

#9. Minimize Options, Focus On Simple Navigation

I touched briefly on navigation above while talking about the importance of design, but I feel this deserves it’s own point to expand on a broader topic and stress the importance of good navigation. The difference between a good website that converts viewers to customers and a bad website that does not, relies heavily on the ease of navigation. All too often websites will have way too many menu items in their navigation, presenting your viewer with an overload of information. Menu items with submenu items can be useful, but it is important to try and minimize the options to keep things concise.

If a viewer has to search through a dozen pages to gather the information needed to become a customer, there is a good chance you are over doing it with your menu. It also increases the chances of a visitor to your website leaving when they land on an irrelevant page. There is no magic number for this, but it is important to have a clean and easy navigation so people can locate the necessary information as quick as possible. And for the love of Pete, if you have a broken link in your navigation, get it fixed IMMEDIATELY! The most unprofessional thing you can do is have broken links in your navigation.

#10. Encourage Feedback And Collect Emails

The importance of feedback and email collection cannot be stressed enough. This is a direct link to your customers opinions about your service or product and the best way to improve the way you are doing business. Use social media to garner feedback on your business or your niche in general. For example, if you are running a Yoga studio, engage your followers with different questions. What is your favourite time to do yoga? Do you enjoy ashtanga yoga more than bikram? This not only promotes community around your business but helps you refine various aspects of how you operate.

Starting a newsletter is also a fantastic way to keep in direct contact with your customers and potential customers. Promoting new products, add on services, contests, announcements, etc.. This is free marketing to people who have already shown an interest in your business and one of the best ways to turn a potential or first time customer into a life long customer. That being said, don’t be spammy with your newsletter. One or two newsletters a month max would be my recommendation.

Now let’s take a minute to briefly summarize everything.

  • Get yourself a website!
  • Don’t slap something together when you do get a website.
  • Avoid the DIY route. Hire a pro. Stick to what you do best and save yourself time.
  • Make sure you have a mobile friendly website. Phones and tablets are here to stay.
  • Use social media to promote and engage.
  • Keep your design clean, easy to use, and visually appealing. Hire a pro.
  • Create concise, exciting content with a call to action.
  • Stop using PDFs! Staahhhp!
  • Avoid choice overload. Simple, easy to use navigation is crucial
  • Create a community and listen to them!

These are only some of the most common mistakes I see in business websites, and opinions may vary when it comes to this topic. I only offer them up as suggestions on how to really optimize your online presence. What do you think? Are you guilty of any of these mistakes? What are some of the most common mistakes you see that I didn’t include?

If you are guilty of any of these mistakes and are looking to get some help solving these problems, please get in contact with New Black Creative. With over 7 years of professional experience, you are in good hands and sure to have the most beautiful and affordable website in town. Get in touch today!

Youtube Drops Adobe Flash For HTML5

Earlier this week the Youtube Engineering and Development team announced it would not begin to drop it’s use of  Adobe Flash in favour of HTML5 video, and personally I couldn’t be happier. Adobe Flash has become increasing irrelevant over the past few years as the deployment of smart phones has proliferated and the adaptation of HTML5 has began to take hold of the internet industry as a whole. The company itself has even stated  “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively,” adding “that makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.” A bold statement from Adobe Flash considering how they fervently defended the software no so long ago in their final struggles against obsolesce.

Youtube has been working on this transition for a number of years now. Coordinating with web browser vendors and the broader community to use HTML5 video as the default player. The Youtube developers blog stated last week “The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it’s now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices.” going on to site many of the technical benefits of this move. They go on to say “These advancements have benefitted not just YouTube’s community, but the entire industry. Other content providers like Netflix and Vimeo, as well as companies like Microsoft and Apple have embraced HTML5 and been key contributors to its success. By providing an open standard platform, HTML5 has also enabled new classes of devices like Chromebooks and Chromecast. You can support HTML5 by using the <iframe> API everywhere you embed YouTube videos on the web.

This could mark the end of Adobe Flash. Few use cases seem reasonable at this point in time and Adobe itself has began distancing itself from the software as its relevance increasingly diminishes. I for one welcome our new HTML5 overlords and will limit my mourning of Adobe Flash to that of only nostalgia from my early years of web animations for my first (really really bad) websites I created. So long Flash, I hope the last update notification I receive from you comes from the digital dustbins of history.

 

New Web Browser Vivaldi Launches

Today the former CEO of Opera, Jon von Tetzchner, launched a new web browser for power users called Vivaldi. This new web browser was released as a tech preview with many new features still under development, but from what I have seen so far, this appears to be a very promising product for both power users who want more from their web browsers.

Some of the features included in the tech preview are Quick Commands, which allow you to quickly search through various settings, history, open tabs, bookmarks and more with a single keyboard shortcut. The stated aim is to make the Quick Command menu highly customisable, allowing you to make your own commands and run them quickly.

Another feature of Vivaldi is the Notes panel. Vivaldi allows you to take notes while browsing and add screenshots right in the handy Notes panel. The notes will automatically remember which site you were browsing at the time and allow you to add tags, to easily organize and find them later. Pretty nifty if you ask me.

Tab stacks is another interesting feature in Vivaldi, and personally my favourite thus far, that allows you to organize all your tabs into stacks based on interest or category of your choosing. This is a great organizational feature of the web browser. I know for me when I have dozens of tabs open it can be hard to keep things organized and accessible, this feature enables users to create a far more organized user experience for themselves.

Vivaldi has been clear that this is just the tech preview and many other features will be rolled out over time, including a hint of a mail integration, sync options to keep your notes, bookmarks and history accessible across various devices, and a greater emphasis on speed and optimization.

I personally enjoy this browser so far and will continue to play with the various available features. If you would like to take a look at the Vivaldi web browser, head over to http://vivaldi.com/ to download the tech preview.

How Much Will A Website Cost Me?

One of the first questions most people have when considering getting a business website, or giving their current website a redesign is “How much is a website?”. There is no single answer to this pretty basic question because every project is unique. It would be like asking “How much does a house cost?”. It really depends on what you want. How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? What is the square footage? Does it have hand carved aged oak cabinets, or generic particle boards? The combinations and possibilities are endless.

To get a better understanding of what a website will cost, you must first know what kind of website you want, and what you want it to do for you and your business. There a few questions you need to ask yourself before you can get a better idea of what your website will cost, and what your budget will allow. Remember that a website is by far your most powerful marketing tool, and looking for the cheapest solution is often times a bigger detriment to your business. In fact 94% of people cited design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website. Potential customers will make a judgement of your entire business within seconds of visiting your website and decide based on the website alone if they wish to do business with you or not. Having a professional build your site will not only boost your sales, but ensure the ongoing maintenance is handled properly. The money spent using New Black Creative services will be worth every penny in both the short and long term.

When preparing to budget web design costs, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a brand new website or a redesign of an existing site?
  • Do you have a detailed list of requirements for the website?
  • Do you need a blog or newsfeed integrated into a content management system (CMS) for promotions, events, product announcements, etc…?
  • Do you already have a logo? Marketing graphics? Web banners?
  • Do you want your website to be responsive and mobile friendly?
  • Do you need multimedia elements (animations, video, etc.) on the site?
  • How much content do you currently have and how much will need to be created?
  • Do you need other special features such as social media integration, SEO (search engine optimization) or E-Commerce?
  • Who is going to maintain the site after it has been launched?
  • Do you have a domain name and hosting provider already?

These are just a few of the questions that must be answered before an accurate quote and proposal can be presented. Your website project is unique, and to best suit your unique needs New Black Creative recommends a free consultation via skype, phone, email or in person for those living in the lower mainland area of Vancouver.

Building beautiful graphics, websites, and marketing campaigns is a passion for New Black Creative, and we enjoy discovering your needs as a business or organization. Gives us a call or send us an email with any questions you may have and to setup a free consultation. Let’s make your business the New Black this year.

Does My Business Need A Website?

You’ve started a new business, or you’ve been running one for a while, and you find yourself asking, “Does my business really need a website?”. The answer is absolutely YES! We are living in 2015 and if you are running a business with no online presence, you are loosing potential business every single day.

People have grown increasingly reliant on the internet for researching products and services before making a purchase, They do this whether buying online or in a brick and mortar store. In fact a recent study has shown that globally, over 60% of internet users will do just this before making a purchase.

Another interesting fact is that 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. That is a lot of potential business.

However, just having a website is not good enough, An un-professional website could hurt your business. Increasingly people are surfing the web from smart phones and tablets. If your business website is not responsive and mobile friendly, most people will give your business less credibility than a business whose website is mobile friendly. In a recent study it has been shown that over 40% of today’s internet traffic is coming from mobile devices. Having a responsive, mobile friendly website is crucial for your online presence, 67% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a website that is compatible with mobile devices.

Appearance is everything when it comes to the web. Potential customers are making judgements of your business and its credibility within seconds of visiting your website. Poor layout, lack luster design, confusing content and navigation are just a few reasons potential customers will leave your site immediately and move onto a competitors site. If your competitor has a professionally created and maintained website, they will be getting that customer’s business.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the question of “Does my business really need a website?”. There are many reasons why your business will benefit from a professionally developed, mobile friendly website, such as a strong social media presence, and powerful branding. So what are you waiting for? Contact New Black Creative today to get a free quote for your business website.

A New Vancouver Web Design Studio

It is official, New Black Creative has launched it’s brand new website and a handful of new projects. This Vancouver based web design studio is here to offer your business, organization or event, the fastest, friendliest and most affordable professional websites, graphics, social media integration, social media strategy, and Search Engine Optimization.

To celebrate the New Year and the new launch, New Black Creative will offer 20% off all of our services for the month of January. So if you are starting a new business, looking to give your current business a new look, or have a special event planned, contact us at info@newblackcreative.com to get a free quote and consultation.

We offer a wide variety of services, here are just a few examples:

  • Social Media integration and marketing starting from $99.
  • Logo Design starting from $299. Business Cards starting from $99
  • Basic Website plans starting from $600.
  • E-commerce solutions starting from $1600.

What are you waiting for? Let’s talk shop and make your business the New Black.

GET A FREE QUOTE TODAY!

LEARN HOW NEW BLACK CREATIVE CAN TURN YOUR PROJECT INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL