I want a “flash” website.
That is one of the things I hear when meeting someone about designing and building a website for the first time. Why do they want flash? Because somewhere they heard that “flash” makes things move around on a website and that’s cool.
It’s also a misnomer because Flash is a specific product that doesn’t translate to most (ok, almost all) Apple products, which means that a company’s website won’t function on a significant number of platforms. What the customer wants are things moving, but the only way they can describe it is by saying, “flash.”
It’s a minor frustration, but a symptom of what many small business owners face even as we move quickly toward 20 years of the word website being part of the American vocabulary. They know terms like SEO, Flash, Social Media and the like, but don’t quite have the time, energy and tools to make it all work.
And it is a reason that as an owner of a company that specializes in web design, I sometimes (ok, often) cringe when I see a lot of the websites out there. Many cause flashback to the mid-to-late 1990s era of designs, which is akin to trying to play an MP3 on a record player. Something will happen, but not what you expect or really want.
A bad website sends up a warning sign to potential clients. Image is the most important thing to remember when creating a website. People make a judgment on someone in about five seconds when meeting them for the first time. It is less time when looking at a website. Everything about a business can summed up in the human mind in what takes most people the time to sneeze. Scary.
So what can a small business owner do to make their site look like it wasn’t created by Fred Flinstone’s programmer cousin using some slate and a chisel?
- Keep updating. Most people get really excited about a new website, but then lose interest in a few months, which means things don’t get updated. When things don’t get updated, it makes it look like your business is out of business.
- Tweak the site often. Just like a car tune-up, making small changes every few months to the colors, styles, and pictures will let people know you are active.
- Plan social media. You have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Good. Do you have a plan to use them? No, then maybe you should rethink your time doing social media. Posting the same items with no response or posting nothing at all is often a negative as opposed to a positive when it comes to social media. Every company can benefit from social media, but only if they have a strategy.
- Drive people to the site. A website is a window into your business, but not a door.
Find ways to get people looking for your site. Use e-mail campaigns and other techniques to get people looking for your business online.
That sounds easy, but many small business owners don’t think about those basic rules when developing their web presence. Not surprising considering all of the issues and challenges one faces each day when running a business, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
A website should be a tool that makes your business better – not hinder your progress. Think about that the next time you go looking at websites.