10 Small Business Website Design Disasters to Avoid

I don’t get angry easily but I’ll tell you what makes my blood boil.Irresponsible, under qualified, even clueless website designers.

Many web designers are talented, skilled and reasonably priced and have the best interests of their clients at heart. But unfortunately there are too many who don’t.

Week after week small business owners call or e-mail me wondering why their expensive website is generating no traffic or leads and not showing up in the search engines.

When I look at their website I often see a site that looks pretty, but is useless. So how do you avoid falling into the same trap?

Here is what you need to know:

  1. Ask the web designer to create your website in a Content Management System like Joomla or WordPress. This will allow you to easily make frequent changes to your site yourself without having to pay $60 or more per hour for every added link or paragraph. Those days are long gone. If the designer balks at this suggestion, run.
  2. Ask if they do keyword research to determine what keyword phrases  people who want your type of service are searching form. If they don’t you can certainly do it yourself or out source it cheaply. Check here:
  3. Ask if they do Search Engine Optimization. If so, what is the cost? If they don’t, run. If they are too expensive, shop around. You can do it yourself with a little effort. (Come to my tele-class-see below)
  4. Do the copywriting yourself or provide an outline and have a professional copywriter do it. The headlines and content need to be focused on customer benefits and they need to contain your keyword phrases. you headline and content will determine whether visitors leave or stay. Avoid phrases like “welcome” and “we do this” and “we do that”.
  5. Ask your designer to go easy on using Java script or Flash as Google can’t recognize or read either. Remind them to add alt tags to your photos.
  6. Do not create an “enter” or “intro” page. It will increase your rate of abandonment and the search engines won’t like it. Every extra click discourages visitors.
  7. It’s crucial that you have an e-mail marketing program and put an opt-in box on every key page of your site. Ask visitors to sign up for your mailing list and give them something of value to encourage them to comply. This is how you convert visitors to leads. Ask your designer if they will put the opt-in  boxes on your site for you.
  8. Check references and find out how long they’ve been in business and how reliable they are. Do they have a group of designers or are they solo? You want someone who will respond when you need their help in an  emergency, not someone who ignores you for days.  You will need excellent customer service since your business is at stake.
  9. Do not let your web designer register your domain name or host your website  unless you have direct access to your domain and hosting accounts and they are in your name. You don’t want to be “held hostage” should you need to change designers. You’ll need direct access anyway for a number of reasons. You shouldn’t pay more than $10 per year for a domain, and for a simple small business site,  your hosting costs should be no more than $10 to $12 a month. Of course if you need more bells and whistles it will cost you more.
  10. Shop around. Don’t just hire the first person you’re referred to since the referrer  may not be aware of some of these pitfalls.

Want to learn more? I invite you to join me for a free tele-class on Wednesday, February 11th at 4 PM ET.

The Online Lead Attraction System
for Small Business Owners

Learn the 9 Step Process that has dramatically increased our business sales and the revenues of many clients, plus learn exactly what you need to do to master online marketing and turn your website into a virtual sales tool and lead generator.  Now more than ever, this is crucial to your small business.  Hope you’ll be there.


  • Marketing
    Posted at 15:27h, 29 January Reply

    Your article is very informative and useful. Glad I found it. Cheers.

  • Judy Baker
    Posted at 20:18h, 29 January Reply

    If business owners followed this guide they would have better web sites and spend less time and money while producing better results.

    The development time for most sites can be reduced dramatically when concept, content and purpose are clearly defined from the outset.

    Understanding who your audience is, what motivates them to buy, and the story you want to tell are the best place to start the process of site development.

    These are fabulous tips.

    Well done.

  • Walt Morton
    Posted at 14:52h, 18 March Reply

    Thank you for your help!

  • Beth
    Posted at 13:05h, 26 October Reply

    Thanks for this great info.
    Love #9. I was just talking with someone the other day who can’t get into her site because her designer has dropped of the face of the earth and she has no login access! UGH!
    I respectfully disagree with the point about running from a designer who doesn’t do SEO. They truly are two different things and actually depend on different gift sets. (Kind of like asking your home decorator if they know how to install insulation.) If you can get someone who does both that would be a bonus but personally I’d rather have two people who are each great at what they do than someone who is trying to be everything.
    Just my 2 cents! This is really great info, thanks for putting it all together!

    • bizcoach
      Posted at 17:54h, 26 October Reply

      Thanks Beth. The problem is that most people don’t know anything about SEO and don’t know they need it. Or they assume their web designer will automatically do this. If web designers would tell clients that they need to find a separate SEO expert to help them with their content and tags, that would be fine, but most don’t. My goal is to always do what will get the best results for the client and I hope more web designers explain how that could happen.

  • Lee R
    Posted at 15:44h, 26 October Reply

    Just found a link to this article via Twitter. I found the article rich in useful content and helpful information for the aspiring website owner and those looking for redesigns.

    I agree that far too many people claim the “web designer” and “webmaster” monikers that should not. However, I find the majority of those use WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, along with other open source — no support — programs.

    I believe website owners should use systems that come with free support, that includes being able to call someone. Because WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and other open source software lacks support, I never direct clients to those applications.

    I’m now following you on Twitter. Again, great article.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 10:13h, 10 January Reply

    Good article and yes, WordPress is a must have for clients. Easy for small business owners to update and the built in SEO is great. There are tutorials out there and there is help – go to the support forums at wordpress.org.

    Yes, you can pay $10 to $12 for hosting but unless you know what you are doing in regards to regularly backing up your site and updating the WordPress core as well as plugins, it’s best to either go with a hosting solution that will do this for you or pay for a maintenance plan from your web developer.

    It’s critical to keep a backup copy of your site and to upgrade regularly.

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