Five costly website issues start-ups and SMEs can avoid
18 October 2018
Five costly website issues start-ups and SMEs can avoid
From the technophobes to the tech savvy, there are some website problems that a lot of SMEs and start-up businesses face. Dave Pullig from leading web design and development agency, Delicious Media, highlights five common and often costly issues associated with getting a website and how these can be easily avoided.
1. Launching a business without a website.
According to Profit Press, around half of small businesses in the UK don’t have a website. The normal response is that they ‘don’t need a site’ because they get referrals, or use social media to promote the business. Social media is great for letting people know what is happening in your business day-to-day, for communicating the personality of your business and to interact with people interested in your business.
While a lot of the information people want may have been shared through your social media profiles, people just won’t trawl through pages of Tweets or Instagram posts to find it. More importantly, you aren’t in control of the way people see your content (do you really want somebody who is looking for your opening hours to have to click past that 1 star Facebook review?).
A website, should be the centre of a business’ digital presence. It should be the definitive source of information, presented in an easy to access format.
Digital marketing & social media activity should refer people back to your website. Your website is a place for you to tell your story in full, in the way you want to (and without adverts for competitors running alongside it). It provides you with a place to inform potential customers what you do, and why they should buy from you.
2. Investing the wrong amount
Every business is different and that means their requirements for a website will vary – businesses need to invest the right amount of time and money in their website. It all comes down to what your website visitors’ expectations will be and what you need them to be able to do. Visitors to a jewellers website looking to buy wedding rings are going to expect high quality images, and a polished design. Somebody looking for a gardening service is going to be a bit more forgiving of photos taken on a phone and a more basic look and feel.
Even within the same sector, there can be big differences. For example, customers for a fast-food place selling burgers will just want to know where the restaurant is, opening hours and to see the menu. Somebody looking to book a meal for a special occasion at a Michelin starred restaurant will probably want to know all about the chef and their approach to food, where their ingredients are sourced and about the surroundings. The owners of the burger restaurant are unlikely to want to take bookings, but the high-end restaurant certainly will – so they are likely to need to invest more in their website to get the functionality they want and the experience their customers expect.
Basic questions that web design agencies should be asking you include:
- What are your customers looking for?
- What sort of content needs to be on the site?
- What functionality do you need (do you need to blog? are you selling products/services online? do customers need be able to login to access parts of your site?).
Ask similar businesses how much they paid and make sure your quote adds up. More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your web designer questions – for example if the website could be built in phases as your website grows. If you get a quote and it is more than you were expecting, ask them to explain why.
3. Ignoring the legal issues.
Although web developers are not legal professionals they should be able to advise you of legal issues you should be aware of and may need to comply with. Although not a definitive list, these are some key areas you should consider:
Everyone is tired of hearing about GDPR, but it is relevant to your website and you do need to make sure that your website is GDPR compliant and consider what happens to the data you collect (both obviously such as contact information in a form, and not so obviously with web analytics and stats).
When using images and videos online, you need to make sure you have permission to do so. Check any license information before sharing!
Consumer Rights Directive
If you are selling online, the Consumer Rights Directive may apply.
Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be prepared that you may need help from a lawyer too.
4. Not having ownership of the website, or domain name
If you are investing money in a website, make sure you own it and can do what you like with it.
If you are hiring an agency, make sure you understand what they will deliver to you. Some agencies use their own systems to create websites, which may work well for you at the time, but what if you want to move away from that agency? If you want to work with somebody else in the future you'll be left with nothing.
Similarly, make sure your domain name is registered in the name of you or your business, not in the name of your web agency or developer. You can buy your domain name yourself if you wish to. There are plenty of sites that allow you to do this independently – a good developer will happily advise you where to do this.
5. Launching a website and never changing it.
All businesses evolve and one of the most common complaints we hear when people come to us for a new website is that their current one doesn't reflect their current offering. Your website needs to change as your business changes. Make sure you remember to adjust simple things such as opening hours if they change or add in the new product you have launched (or one you have stopped offering). An easy way for you to keep your site current is with a blog or news section. This also provides content to use on your social channels and is great for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). However, regularly updating a blog or news section is not right for all businesses.
Make sure you will be able to edit the content on your site if you want to. There will always be changes where you’ll need help from a developer, but you shouldn’t need to pay to make updates to the content of your website and if a developer says that it isn’t possible with their websites run to the hills!
How to get a website up and running Workshop
Come along to our workshop, ‘How to get a website up and running’ on 22nd October 2018. We are running this in conjunction with Business Sheffield to help start-ups gain a better understanding of website terminology, legal requirements and website design.
Whether you want to create a website yourself, or you want to get an agency to build one on your behalf, this workshop will give you the upper hand when it comes to basic website knowledge.