Russell Brunson says small businesses don’t need a website any more, they just need a sales funnel.
But your web presence doesn’t have to be hosted on ClickFunnels to effectively drive customers to call you up, or book an appointment or session.
His broader point is valid, though: What’s the use of a website if it doesn’t help your business grow?
If your website is out-of-date, is badly designed, or has typos and pixelated images, your customers will simply click away back to Google and book or buy with your competitor instead — I know I do.
I’ve been scouring hundreds of small business websites recently and have picked up on a number of trends in web design that are probably losing you business.
Here are my tips on sprucing up your website to attract and engage customers instead of putting them off.
First, the obvious ones …
1. Proofread your website
Run all copy through Microsoft Word’s spellcheck at the very least, and have a someone read over it afterwards. If it doesn’t read well, if apostrophes are out of place, if there are typos, it can massively detrac from your image.
You would think this was obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy for typos to slip in unnoticed (did you spot the one in the previous paragraph?!).
On the other end of the scale…
I’ve seen websites that misspell their own company name, or ask you to check out their ‘Face Book’ page.
Running all your copy through spell check is a really easy way to ensure your spelling and grammar is on point!
The next ones all fit into the general bucket of ‘formatting’:
2. Avoid tiny font
People simply can’t read it, and if there’s a bunch of tiny text in a dense paragraph that’s not broken up in any way, that text ain’t getting read.
Take this article as an example. The text is split up into short paragraphs. There are numbered titles. There are bullet points. Some bits are italicised.
Some bits are in quotes.
You see how it’s easier to read than a solid block of size 10 text?
3. Avoid clichéd fonts
Make sure your font is easy to read, not overused or clichéd, and not on this list of Worst Fonts in the World. This will help you stand out as a brand with a unique ‘feel’ and just makes everything a lil more professional.
4. Be consistent
Use the same fonts throughout your website!
The text in one paragraph should normally all be the same font, size and colour. Headings can have a different font, size and colour but they too need to be consistent. And make sure each page of your website uses the same scheme.
If you want to emphasise certain words, you could use a heading, make it bold (sparingly), or put the sentence on a new line.
P.S. White text on a black background had a moment, but it’s actually really hard to read!
What about my images? I can’t go wrong there, can I?
5. Make sure your images aren’t stretched or pixelated
High-quality images and graphics look much nicer.
To avoid this, you could preview your site before going live or making any changes, so you can iron out any issues with your images looking stretched, pixelated or cropped in the wrong places.
(With a template service like Squarespace this doesn’t tend to happen anyways.)
6. Use your own images
Showcase what your business does by using your own images.
You don’t need to hire a pro photographer and get models for a shoot. These days, even iPhone photos can be good enough quality.
You could top it up with stock images (that you have permission to use). But definitely use some of your own images too — otherwise we risk losing a sense of what your business is about and your site could start to look generic.
Don’t use images belonging to other businesses …
Of course you can feature the logos of brands your business uses. For example, if you’re a hair salon and you only use a certain product, there’s no problem with linking to their website and using their logo if you have permission.
But I saw one website that used another brand’s image (the other brand’s Instagram handle was prominent in the image itself) to show what a particular nail treatment would look like.
This company could easily have done the treatment on someone themselves, and then taken their own picture.
Apart from potentially breaching the other brand’s intellectual property rights, using images that clearly come from someone else’s website or social media could give the impression that you actually don’t know how to do the service. And you’re losing the opportunity to showcase your own work anyway.
P.S. You can get tons of free professional stock images for website backgrounds or blogs from Pexels.com and Unsplash.com.
7. Use the right social media thumbnails
Using the Twitter logo from ten years ago can really date a website. Instead, you can look up the most recent branding for your social media links and thumbnails here:
8. Make sure images have a transparent background
If you want to insert a badge or logo, it will look much nicer if the image has a transparent background. Here’s what I mean:
This would have a much more professional feel if the white logo background was removed, right?
Luckily there is an easy fix for this: upload your image to Lunapic to remove the white background.
What about if my website is a template? Much of the design is done for me already by a professional — surely I can’t go wrong here.
Here are a few mistakes I’ve seen ‘in the wild’ that you can easily avoid when choosing and editing your template:
9. Delete irrelevant parts of the template
Do you have a blog?
Are you realistically going to start one?
If not … it may be time to delete the blog section of your template. 😉
As a visitor, there’s nothing more disappointing than clicking the blog section of a brand you like, only to find there’s nothing there, or it’s ‘coming soon’.
I would suggest only putting the blog section in once you have 5 posts banked. This way, it really looks like a functioning blog that your visitors can go to for useful info.
10. Don’t use a blog template if it’s not a blog
A regular website will typically have pages that you can reach through links on the homepage or from the main menu.
Unless you are a blog, it may be best to avoid using the blog format for your information pages. It’s much nicer if readers don’t have to scroll down through multiple posts to find the information they need, and instead can easily access it from the top menu.
If you have to use a blog template for your website, there’s often a way you can get rid of tell-tale blog apparatus — like the date, tags and categories. Play around with the template to get the result you need!
11. Check all the links in your main menu
It sounds basic and this probably isn’t you …
But I did find one website with about 20 broken links coming off the main menu and submenus. This is super frustrating for users — it means they can’t get the information they need quickly, and will most likely go find it somewhere else.
Those 404 pages aren’t doing you any favours!
And now for the simply random …
12. Don’t use images of banknotes
I saw one website which had the usual VISA and Mastercard logos and then, underneath, a picture of a £10 note, I think suggesting the company accepted cash payments.
It’s a criminal offence to digitally reproduce English banknotes — unless you have permission from the Bank of England!
Definitely one to avoid.
13. Use a web platform in the language of your target customers
Or at least make sure that you replace all the original language text from the template with the language of your target customers.
I found one website where the contact form was in a different language. OK, it was fairly obvious that the button probably read ‘Submit’, but I was still a little confused.
Even something as small as this can be a roadblock to the total professionalism and trust you need to convert your customers.
14. Make sure you own your domain name
This one’s a little tangential, but I came across one company whose Facebook business page featured a website link that just didn’t lead anywhere.
(The non-existent website link was also incorporated into their profile picture.)
It turned out that this company didn’t even own the domain name.
This can be irritating for users who click the link expecting to find your website, but there’s also a genuine risk here.
If you don’t own the domain name you’re publicly claiming is yours, and it’s not owned by anyone else, it could be bought by a competitor of yours. Any one of those thousands of page followers you’ve made huge effort to acquire who clicks on ‘your’ website link will be taken to your competitor’s website. They may even unknowingly make a purchase from your competitor thinking it’s you.
You are literally providing your competitor or anyone else who decides to buy the domain with free advertising that THEY can make money from. YOU should be profiting from these efforts, NOT someone else.
So make sure to renew your domains — and if you don’t use a particular domain any more, then you can simply remove them from your social media.
And finally …
15. Do you have an ‘eye’ for design?
I think this one is about self-awareness …
You are GREAT at what you do. That’s why your business is successful.
But design simply isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok.
Having said that …
Websites where colours are mismatched, text is misaligned, boxes aren’t centred …
If it just looks a bit 90s or amateur …
… it will turn potential customers off in a big way.
There’s definitely an art to this that can’t be summarised in bullet points, but if in doubt … get someone to help you!
I hope these hints and tips can help you spruce up your website design so that it attracts and engages your potential customers, and doesn’t put them off.
But I hear some objections coming …
I don’t have the ‘eye’
I don’t know how to make graphics look nice
I can’t update my website — I have to ring my IT guy to ask him to do it for me and he charges me each time
I can’t afford a revamp
I already have someone who works on my website (even if he or she’s not currently remedying ANY of these issues)
I don’t know how to code
I don’t have the time …
As a small business owner, it’s totally understandable that you may not have the time to get on this — and it’s totally understandable if you don’t currently have all the skills you need in-house and ready to get to work!
But there’s always help available! I’ve mentioned some free resources you can use to take action on these tips — and you can always find people to help. Since this is something you KNOW you NEED, outsourcing may be the way forward!