Most small business owners are smart, scrappy, and quite industrious. Let's face it, they started a business on their own so that they could do things their way. Most often that means they want to put their stamp on each part of their business so that they have control of the end product. It's no secret now that if you are starting a business you need a website. It is one of your first steps as a new business owner and occurs at the stage of your new journey when you are motivated, excited, and bursting with ideas on your new business plan. This often leads new owners spending some time researching the best place to build a website and often taking on the challenge themselves.
They are ready to take on this new challenge and put their best effort forward to get their website up and running so that they can continue focusing on the main goal of setting up their business. What most small business owners discover during this process is that all those slick marketing videos saying how easy it is to build your own website do not reflect the experience they have diving in to their new website. There are also a whole host of other challenges that they can be faced with or fail to identify during their process. In this blog post we'll go over the five key challenges owners face when building out their website.
Here are five challenges small business owners face when building their website.
(With five solutions)
1. Lack of Technical Knowledge
The first and foremost challenge that most business owners face is a lack of technical knowledge. This is not saying that business owners are not intelligent or that they don't have a good grasp on technology as a whole, but building a website requires a certain level of technical expertise, and if you don't have that, it can be overwhelming. Business owners need to have a basic understanding of web development, including design guidelines, accessibility requirements, legal requirements, domain/hosting management, and seo best practices. Without this knowledge, it can be difficult to design and develop a website that is user-friendly and visually appealing. This can ultimately hurt their business by failing to build credibility in their market.
Solution: If you decide to take on building your website, get feedback from friends or family about the functionality. See what ways you can improve the website for your users by taking feedback from your customers as well. For technical notes, work with a trusted website consultant or auditor to see if you're website is technically sound.
2. Time Constraints
Another challenge that business owners face is time constraints. Building a website is a time-consuming process, and if you're running a business, you already have a lot on your plate. Creating a website requires a significant amount of planning, design, and development, and it can take weeks or even months to complete. We often speak with small business owners that are able to start their website but not really complete it. This often results in a website that doesn't have enough content for it to be useful to their target customer. The other time challenge owners face is that their new website requires maintenance and updates to keep it relevant and producing valuable leads/customers. This is often time that is not budgeted into the busy life of a business owner, so they end up treating their website as a static piece of marketing. As a result of this some content sacrifices have to be made, sometimes inventory is left out, hours are omitted, or key events are not published to avoid the extra work needed to keep things up-to-date.
Solution: This one is tricky, if you don't have time to properly build a website it is best to hire a professional to do it for you. One solution is to create a landing page with the most basic information about your business until you have time to sit down and build out the whole site. This can allow you to at least have a website to point to while you wait for an opening in your schedule. This is often better than trying to build it all at once if you are on a time constraint. Just don't forget to go back and finish it! ;)
3. Budget Constraints
Building a website is an expense that comes at the early stages of forming your business. This is often the main motivator for small businesses to take on this task. While there are plenty of DIY website builders out there, they often come with limitations, such as restricted functionality and design options. Business owners need to weigh the cost of hiring a web developer against the cost of lost time and potential lost revenue. It is best for small business owners to think of their website as a long-term marketing investment. Spending money on a website will often product a greater return than most advertising pitfalls that new small businesses fall into. This is because your money spent continues to work for you throughout the life of your business. Advertising is an important factor, but it's visibility is limited. When developing a business plan it is important for small business owners to build room in the budget for website services to help give them the flexibility if they need help getting their site up and running.
Solution: First and foremost, build website development and/or services into your budget. Spend some time consulting with a web developer to save you time and money on choosing the right platform/solution for your business. Some businesses have tools that include a website as part of the plan, which can be a good solution, but be sure to see if their solution will fit your needs and whether it can scale with your business.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential aspect of any website and often the most overlooked aspect of DIY web design. Without proper SEO, your website won't rank well in search engines like Google, which means that potential customers won't be able to find your business online. SEO requires a deep understanding of how search engines work, as well as ongoing effort and maintenance to keep your website ranking high. This is often a boring/technical phase of web development that business owners don't have time to really dive into. It's true that aesthetics play a large role in the success of your website, but you have to get the visitors first to make the impact you want to make.
Solution: utilize seo tools in your builder to make sure your meeting the basic minimum seo requirements. Optimize images, include proper heading hierarchy, include alt text on images, and make sure you have clear navigation on each page. Then check your website performance and seo using some tools. I recommend using semrush.com which you can use to search keywords, test seo, and your functionality. It is free to make an account and make a few searches daily. You could also use it to compare your website to your competitors to see where you may have gaps.
5. Mobile Responsiveness
It's now essential that your website is mobile-responsive. This means that your website should be optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets, with a design that adjusts to fit the screen size. Mobile responsiveness is critical for providing a positive user experience, and it's also a factor that search engines consider when ranking websites. Most DIY builders provide responsive web design that is built to fit into these "breakpoints", and to their defense they do a good job at making sure your content scales appropriately and maintains legibility on various screens. What we often see missing is that there is not a focus on actually optimizing these mobile websites. The mobile experience is quite different than the experience for a user on a laptop. Because of this, mobile websites often require a closer look at the content and functionality of certain elements to help ensure the user is engaging with the content and not just having to scroll past everything just to get to what they want. Since this adds more time to the web development process, mobile design is often overlooked or at least not prioritized.
Solution: spend time in the mobile editor of your platform. After you build you site on desktop, just think that you're 50% there, go back in to the mobile interface and make that experience smooth for your users. Several of my clients receive over 75% of their traffic on mobile devices, so I like to ensure that the mobile experience is just as good, if not better than that on desktop.
In conclusion, building a website is a complex process that requires technical knowledge, time, and money. Business owners who are considering building their own website should be prepared to face these challenges and be willing to invest the time and resources necessary to create a high-quality website. Alternatively, they can hire a professional web developer who can take care of the technical aspects of building a website, allowing them to focus on running their business.