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New Survey Reveals How Your Website Might Actually Be Hurting Your Small Business

New Survey Reveals How Your Website Might Actually Be Hurting Your Small Business

In just one 60-second time frame, roughly 70 new domains are registered and 571 new websites created. This means that, over the next 365 days, we’ll see more than 300 million websites added to the already crowded World Wide Web.

Not only do these numbers inherently imply that you’ll be facing more competition than ever when it comes to gaining the attention of your target market in the days ahead, but also that consumers are in a position where they can be pickier about the businesses they search for and find online. And they are, at least, that’s what one new survey reveals.

On April 11, 2017, Vistaprint Digital did a press release in which they revealed the results of a March, 2017 survey involving 1,818 American consumers. Each participant was over 18 years of age and asked to complete eight different questions regarding their online experiences with regard to small business websites. What they found may surprise you. I know it did me.

Before we go through these results, it’s important that you think about your own website and how it may correlate or not correlate to the findings. In other words, I want you to consider whether the data revealed could potentially apply to the individuals who visit your online space. Also, I’d ask you to be open to the fact that, if it does, it may just be hurting your business.

So what did this survey reveal?

What Makes a Site “Poorly Designed or Unprofessional”

Among the findings of Vistaprint Digital’s Small Business Consumer Expectations Report was that 42 percent of those questioned indicated that they’d likely forego making a purchase from a small business if its website was “poorly designed or unprofessional.” How did they define these two terms?

According to the full report, approximately two out of every three persons questioned (68.4 percent) revealed that “up-to-date and accurate website content was most important when it comes to having a positive experience with a small business website.” In other words, if the information on the company’s site wasn’t current and correct, they considered the site to be unprofessional and of poor design…and the business to be unworthy of their hard-earned cash.

Now, correct information is pretty common sense, but what does it take for the site to be current? Well, a majority of the respondents (28.9 percent) indicated that they felt a site was out-of-date if the information hadn’t been spruced up or modified within the last six months. Perhaps more surprisingly, almost one out of four of the survey participants, or 24.8 percent to be exact, felt the same if the site hadn’t been touched within the last month.

Now, I want you to think about your own website. When was the last time you actually went in and made changes to it? When did you last update your list of available products and services or add to your blog? You don’t recall?

That could be a problem because your website would likely be considered outdated, potentially hurting your business more than helping it, as 41.8 percent of those surveyed said that they were “not very likely” to make a purchase from a small business with that type of site. An additional 20.8 percent said that they were “not at all likely” to make a purchase either, meaning that you’re missing out on more than 60 percent of possible sales, all because you aren’t regularly updating your online presence.

Breaking Down the Demographics

Dig into the report a little further and you also find that there are demographic differences between what is appealing to website viewers and what isn’t. For example, for survey respondents who were younger in age—which the survey designates as being between 18 and 24—almost one-half considered using a website a negative experience if the site itself didn’t contain a business address, directions to the business, or a list of open business hours.

This same demographic also indicated that one of the primary reasons they accessed a website, in addition to looking for the hours of operation (31 percent), was to do a product search (35.9 percent). This varies just slightly from survey respondents who were slightly older—those who were in the 45 to 54 age range—who reported that their main reason to search a business online was to either find out more information about a specific product (46.6 percent) or to locate the company’s contact information (19.6 percent). To them, the hours of operation carried less importance.

What Does This Mean to You?

When a lot of small business owners think about their website, they wonder whether it’s as effective as it could be. However, based on survey results like these, you must also consider whether your online presence is actually driving your customer base away, opening up all new issues to contend with and highlighting the importance of creating a website that is well thought out, well designed, and, of course, current and accurate in the information it provides.

While this sounds rather simple in nature, it’s sometimes easier said than done. After all, how many websites have you visited that contained all of this information, yet still turned you off? As it turns out, there’s more to creating a website than what you put (or don’t put) on it.

Often Forgotten Website Considerations

For instance, one web-based decision that small business owners face when creating or modifying their websites involves something that most of us don’t give a second thought to. Color.

“Color is more than just what your eye sees and your brain processes,” Vistaprint Digital explains on their website. “It’s also how your body reacts to it – the physical and emotional response.” In fact, it’s this very reaction that, as Techwyse shares, is 60 percent responsible for whether someone decides to stay on your site and check it out further or clicks to your competitor’s site instead.

For example, the color red often signifies heat, sexiness, or caution, informs Vistaprint Digital’s post; whereas blue, on the other hand, tends to elicit feelings of calm, coolness, and loyalty. White is often synonymous with cleanness, purity, and goodness, and the color yellow brings out feelings of optimism and happiness.

But choosing a color based on these factors alone isn’t enough either, further muddying the waters when it comes to deciding which palette best connects with your consumers. It also has to coincide with your brand. It needs to mesh with your logo and enhance the image you’re striving to create.

There’s also the issue of how easy your website is to use and the options it offers. In fact, Vistaprint Digital’s survey found that around 50 percent of those questioned expected small business websites to provide the same experience as sites offered by larger chains. That’s why it’s important to check out sites created by your larger competitors and honestly consider how yours compares.

Therefore, when going to their sites, you want to pay attention to their color choices, font sizes and types, general layout, and the pages they contain. Also notice how easy it is to go from one page to another, the types of words used in the content sections, whether pictures or graphic images are used and, if so, what types, when, and how often.

Overall, you want to ask yourself how their websites make you feel. What types of emotions do they stir up inside of you? Are they good feelings or bad?

A Question-Based Website Creation / Modification Checklist

Whether you’re just setting up your new website or you’ve been online for ages and want to spruce up your site to make it more appealing to your target market, here are a few questions to ask yourself before going live:

  • Does your site contain your contact details (physical address, email address, phone number)? Are they easy to find?
  • If you own a physical business, does your site provide visitors easy-to-follow directions to your exact location?
  • Does your website contain your hours of operation, enabling visitors to quickly tell when you’re open for business?
  • Are your product and service offerings and descriptions current? Subsequently, do they provide the type of information your viewer may be looking for?
  • Are your color scheme and font choices eliciting the feelings and response you want?
  • How do you feel when looking at your website?
  • Is the site overly busy? On the converse, is it too sparse?
  • Overall, is your website appealing to the eye?

If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed…

If, like me, you’re not very web savvy or don’t completely understand all of the ins and outs of how to create a top-notch site, then you may feel more than a little overwhelmed. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to do all of this yourself. There are professionals who can help.

Now, it’s not uncommon to try to cut corners when it comes to website design, especially when you’re first starting out. However, keep in mind that a Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal found that 70 percent of the population has searched for a local business online in the last year. This means that you have only one chance to make a positive first impression on a large number of people in your target market.

Part of being a successful business owner means knowing when you’re in over your head. It involves delegating certain tasks to people because 1) you don’t have the time to learn them yourself, 2) you have no desire to learn them, or 3) you have a greater likelihood of obtaining better results from people who actually know what they’re doing.

If any of these three criteria apply to you and your situation, then it may be time to call in the professionals and hire a company to take care of your website for you. No more spending hours online researching website design and comparing and contrasting all of the contradictory information. No more beating your head against the wall in frustration as you make changes to your site, unsure of what effect they’ll have.

When you select a reputable web design company that has obtained positive results for their clients, then you know you’re in good hands. And the responsibility of your website design and content is taken out of your hands, giving you more time to do the things you love, like creating new products and talking with consumers about how you’ve made their lives better, happier, easier, or whatever –er applies. That makes it more than worth the hand-off.

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.