Common Website Mistakes Businesses Make
How to Avoid Website failures

These common website design and implementation mistakes can break a small business:

A good web site is an important part of and should be an integral part of a business, also a tool to aid communications, educate everyone about the company's products, priorities and future. Too often it is a poorly-managed hodgepodge riddled with years of mistakes that hurt the business, and attitudes and relationships within the company with resultant conflict and blaming.

Your website is you, your business, your billboard and business card to the world---rolled into one. It speaks volumes about the company instantly. Prospects decide within a few seconds of clicking on your site, making judgments about the company and products. Whether it loads fast (a big Google factor), is attractive and professional, shows the product, gets to the point immediately, names the target audience, has bulleted points and has clear navigation---all are instantly obvious. Whether the content is clear, crisp, interesting, authoritative-- is clear within about 30 seconds IF they decided to stay past the first 5 seconds.

Likewise, all these factors work against the company if it's the opposite: slow, cryptic, unbalanced, unclear and basically amateurish. That's not the fault of staff or a cheap web designer they picked. It's on management.

Bad results are mostly on management and misinformation that is everywhere. Often uninformed, unprepared too-busy management fails to properly plan, hire and monitor to implement a great website integral to the company's PR, Advertising, marketing, and product refinement goals. What could have been a proud rallying point and unifying force for employees and customers focusing on goals and identity---becomes instead an albatross damaging the company's image and internal morale. Perfectly wonderful staff associated with the project get blamed for what was a lack of proper care, study, prudence, hiring and assignments, monitoring and acceptance of responsibility by management.

Management has been misled, and doesn't know that staff are not informed or equipped to do the job of a professional, certainly not without proper guidance, training and guidelines.

Management doesn't know that 95% of the so-called experts, and the misinformation and "urban legends" they put out are wrong. If you want the correct information, you have to study these pages and talk to BG Design.

The internet is still the new frontier, with hazards around every turn, with bad advice everywhere. Management should know that. The buck stops at the top, for putting complex technical responsibilities requiring experts on the backs of usually Office, Sales or IT-LAN staff and some "designer" they know. That is the most common and serious mistake by management. Another is thinking or presuming they really know modern technical web design projects and promotion. Even many experts in the field can barely keep up with changes going on. Many so-called experts are even misinformed or drawn into fads with little basis in proven marketing methods.

For many years, we have rescued companies from these kinds of mistakes where failures to properly study, plan, and get an expert design-developer-webmaster-- really hurt the business.

How NOT to build and promote a Website

These are NOT web success stories. These are website failures:

In our decades of management and marketing experience, and 12 years of internet web-design for small business (to $500 million annual sales), we've seen it all---every mistake imaginable.

Most online businesses fail partly because their websites are poorly designed, the software or scripts they chose are unreliable, their marketing strategy is missing, their website promotion is bad, and they are ignorant of the many pitfalls of online business and internet marketing.

Almost everyone does website design and marketing poorly, the only difference being "how wrong?" A few succeed by being less wrong that most. That's a pretty strong statement, but true. Most of what you see on the internet is people not making a profit, not communicating well. Only a few with unique products or skills, or larger companies with great brand recognition and passable design at least have a focus, unique identity and considerable thought and budget in their website design and development.

Typically management believes what their "local expert" amateur or friend or IT LAN person says recommending a CMS-Content Manager, a site-generator or a hosted shopping cart system, and urge that you just sprinkle content keywords throughout pages. The extent of their approach is mostly a shotgun "build it and they will come", it's easy, etc.. Not True.

Typically the boss's assistant, tasked with the website--asks graphics people, the IT or LAN group or advertising or sales staff for who "knows something about web design?" The IT guy, not wanting to look technically weak, reluctantly chirps up "I do", and proceeds to talk about his friend who did a whole website with Wordpress or Dreamweaver recently and it "looks good". The sales office, inherently avoiding technical projects sighs relief and offers to help with the "look" and some content. None of these people, including the boss, have ever aided design and promotion of a single successful business website, whereas even many experts fail at it. Think about that.

Management has now cast its responsibilities mostly on someone else not qualified or informed enough to make such big decisions involving strategy of the business, software, design for promotion or the latest in complex web design concepts! Discussion of how to reflect marketing strategy in the site may be an afterthought given short-shrift. That is going in the right direction, but fails to utilize the process to refine the strategy. Or management may jump in and participate without being well-informed--which is still disastrous.

Without careful research, a "modern" Wordpress or similar Script "page generator" system or WYSIWYG program like Dreamweaver is chosen because "lots of people use it" (which is not a good reason). Real business websites done with these often begin to break and become misaligned after about 10 to 20 substantial changes. And Wordpress is a "blog system" not really designed to be a clean, efficient, well-organized website, and typically becomes difficult for visitors to find what they need, difficult to reconfigure and to move, and subject to hacking and updates that may not retain site data.

People fall for this because it seems easier (at first) and novices can get some results, but mainly because they mistakenly believe that solely organic content and lots of verbiage will give them a high ranking. They have fallen for the fads and shortcuts that often don't work. Managers fall for this because a) it is difficult to get the right information and b) they want to "save money" by not hiring a professional web design and promotion firm.

But in fact shortcuts COSTS THEM MORE, way more. Failures of a website have huge impact, on company image, on staff and moral, on management reputation and lost business.

When the design is not going well, taking a long time, not bringing business and needing changes, slow-loading and mysterious or unclear to many--- management may attempt to hire a "website designer" to improve their site or fix it when it doesn't look right in some browsers.. The so-called expert designer is slightly more competent than the first one, but quietly goes along with the uninformed owner's prime goals of looking sophisticated and using lots of images for the site header and background, and piecing them together. Their weak design is mostly about the "look" and nothing useful to fix the real problems that only continue to get worse over the next 2 or 3 years, when it is recognized that the site failed to do most of what it should, not bringing traffic and mostly misunderstood by visitors-- who quickly LEAVE.

Or it is focused on the latest rage (read FAD) such as blogging and forums without much thought for upkeep, editing and hackers. The office staff becomes bogged down in diversions and tedium and don't keep up with either the postings or the editing and screening. The content is less-than-interesting or impressive. The wonderful CMS content manager site generator hangs up, gets hacked and is spewing a virus around the internet in your company's name, or showing up as garbage on some pages, looking Arabic.

Desired changes to the Flash and other images are found to be impossible and in the wrong formats. Management wants to change the Logo and color, but the Logo has been distributed world wide in the wrong color and shape, and "doesn't look right" still. The colors don't match and some of the graphics look cheesy.

The list of disasters goes on and on. All the participants are unhappy. They have wasted years and hundreds of hours of precious time, effort and attitudes being damaged by typical poor planning and management of a technical project. Changes to the menu now don't work, and to fix and update just the menu, the estimates are about $900. The site gets very few new visitors since Google's last "algorithm change" and everybody has a different (wrong) idea of what to do about it.

Often an "SEO guru" again convinces someone that they can fix most of the problems and get better traffic and conversions. The appearance and misalignments and site failures only increase, and the false hope costs about $2400 and loses another year.

Had the company started with a highly experienced professional web designer with a promotion division, they could have avoided MOST of these problems, built a truly reliable, fast, clean portable site designed for hybrid promotion. They would have worked to be sure the prospect segments had their buttons. bullets, pages and pathways through the website based on a refined web strategy. The site integrity, reliability and robustness would have never been a problem, and promotion would have followed testing and improvement cycles resulting in good traffic and sales. And overall, the company would have SAVED TIME AND MONEY, avoiding three to four years of disasters, wasted money, blaming, frustration and disgust.

Also too often the hosting company chosen was inadequate, chosen long ago, or because it was associated with a web designer. Now the host is found to choke data at peaks, or the designer no longer responds, but has all the log in names and passwords, so the owner can't even get into his own site. We've seen that over and over. That essentially is being locked in and not having control of your own site NOR your own programs and content. Pick a standard hosting company specialized in good hosting, and leave the web design to a specialist in site development.

You can read more about standards for how to choose a hosting company on our site about hosting here. It's a bad idea to let a hosting company also be your web developer. Also avoid "site builder" type generators often suggested by even good Hosting companies.

These are just a few of the types of failures we see. Most often the site has numerous problems of all types, from not pulling conversions of prospects to appearing misaligned on one browser, to having lost some of the latest content by being "restored" inadvertently by someone and "edited" (they said improved) by someone else who did not have the latest version of the web pages and also broke some code.

Doing the website wrong will plague a business for years and years, be a public spectacle of bad management, damage the company image, and waste time of everyone---instead of being a tool that helps the business in several ways. Doing the website wrong, like any big important computer project that ate management's lunch---has even been the death of some companies.

In summary, as shown by these mistakes, management has ...
  • Avoided studying the diverse views of experts in web design and implementation .
  • Over-simplified by relying too much on staff not trained in the field or other "wanna-be" experts.
  • Not clearly outlined the goals, layout and web strategy for the website.
  • Not started with marketing strategy and savvy web design and promotion experts.

Managers can't ignore that websites should aid communications and knowledge of staff, vendors, prospects and customers. A good site educates but is still a difficult-to-manage art, graphics, advertising print and PR campaign AND ALSO a complex computer project rolled into one. As a key and high potential tool of management, the entire approach requires high management skill, knowledge, sometimes substantial costs, revisions and much patience to continue to improve. It requires careful budgeting.

Management must make time and learn how to do website development projects correctly. They must realize that doing it wrong means even more time away from regular product-oriented work which absence can be costly to the business.

There is probably no better management exercise to practice properly refining strategy, budgeting, appreciating technical project requirements, integrating the look and personality of the business, and communicating well with everyone---than properly planning, building and promoting a great website.

You may not like the sound of all this (sounds like study, work and thinking). We'd love to say "our secret will solve all these website problems" in 15 minutes with no effort by management. Sorry. Welcome to the real world. We can greatly help. You have to be willing to learn a lot and MANAGE, not cast a website project to someone you depend on like an office or sales manager (better choice) "who can type". We don't mean to be rude, but that sort of website and promotion decision-making is negligent at best. Yet we see it ALL THE TIME, from even established company management who should know better.

We're not about games and fantasy when it comes to website design. We will not tell it other than like it is. Executives who can not take the time to learn and participate should know exactly how much they are delegating, and select the best to do it. We are among the best and near the most-affordable.

We want to work with the very few business managers and owners who "get it", who realize that you don't make website design and management your 20th level priority and assign it to anyone who might have free time and slightly "know computers." We want to work with management well-informed enough to select proper experts--us, and proper web development liaison, and listen and learn how to do things right.

We want to work with intelligent management who realizes that studying competitors, testing appeals, refining the website based on testing appeals and proper strategizing and outlining--- is the heart and essence of better marketing, appeal and strategy refinement and a potential product improvement and operational goals finder-tool.

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It should be evident then that proper staffing and selection of web experts is absolutely crucial to aiding management's own education and ability to utilize the web project as a tool for refining the future of the business, to aid planning, production and sales.


Note: To learn more about websites, browse our other information guides and tips on our menu above: 11 Web Business Success Tips, Starting a Web Business Checklist, How to Choose a Domain Name, How to Choose a Domain Registration Company, How to Choose a Hosting Company, Tips for Designing a Website, How to Get My Website Working, How to Promote Your Website, 10 Website Improvement Tips

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