Does your website REALLY represent your small business and help you succeed by engaging your existing clientele and attracting new customers?
Here are 14 problems that I see all too frequently on small business websites. If yours suffers from any or all of them, it may be time to fire your webmaster.
You don't own your own domain name
Did your webmaster do you a ‘favor' and register a domain name for you?
If you have a falling out with your webmaster, your website could disappear overnight when you stop paying them for their services and they stop paying the yearly registration costs on your behalf.
If your webmaster registered and pays for your domain name, insist that it be transferred immediately.
Your website is ugly
We've all seen them — business sites with floral wallpaper backgrounds and ragged-looking logos that look like they were designed by kids in kindergarten.
Paying a ‘webmaster' for such ugliness is just plain wrong.
With thousands of website template designs available for almost any type of business, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to have an ugly website.
More importantly, when you buy a website theme from a professional designer or agency, you know that the template is secure, i.e. access is made difficult for hackers. Good design companies keep their templates current and inform customers when updates are available through the WordPress interface. One click of a button and your theme will be automatically updated. Note: It is also important that your webmaster update your WordPress platform when required to make sure that it also remains secure.
Professional themes are designed to be responsive to those visitors who prefer to access your site on their mobile devices.
All professional website themes can be further customized to suit your individual requirements, using either services recommended by the template designers or at Freelancer.
Furthermore, website or WordPress themes are moderately priced – usually less than $100 – so you don't need to pay through the nose for a ‘propietary' website design when all you'll need is a little customization.
Your business site doesn't show up in the Google search results
I have good friends in town who build campers (campervans) that they export to New Zealand, simply because their campers can be built less expensively in Canada, shipped to New Zealand and Kiwis still save money when they buy my friends' product.
Does their site show up in the Google search results for:
- campers New Zealand
- campervans new zealand
- campervans new zealand for sale
- buy campers New Zealand
- new zealand campervans for sale
Nope… not a blessed one.
They have a nice looking site, but their website hasn't been optimized in the least to appear in the Google search results.
Your website has pages marked as ‘Under Construction' or ‘Coming Soon'
An Under Construction sign suggests to potential clients that:
- you are dis-organized, and;
- that you don't care if you waste a visitor's time by making them click useless links
I'm sure that's NOT the first impression you want to give potential clients.
If your webmaster doesn't know how to create and build new pages in the background without having to utilize the infamous ‘under-construction' notice, fire them immediately!
You have no access to your site's control or administration panels
If your webmaster disallows you direct access to your website's hosting control panel (i.e. cPanel) or your site's administration panel (i.e. WordPress admin), you should request the usernames and passwords as soon as possible.
It's your website – YOU must be able to access the backend to make small changes to your site when required.
If you have a real web development company working for you, this won't be an issue – BUT, you'll also be paying them top dollar to make sure you are always happy with your website.
You don't know how to make simple changes to your website
If you or your staff can't make simple changes to your website, then you are always at the mercy of your webmaster's schedule.
See next item…
Your webmaster is slow to respond to change requests
You've just increased the price of an item on your restaurant's menu and need that posted on your website ASAP, but you haven't been able to get in touch with your webmaster for the past week.
Consider how frustrating that is for customers who check your website for specials and are then disappointed find out that the price has increased.
YOU do! Because if you do the right thing – as I know you will – you will honor the price listed on your website.
Who pays for that mistake?
YOU will… because your webmaster won't accept responsibility for changes that aren't made simply because they're on vacation.
Your webmaster insists on using a website platform other than WordPress
With 70+ million websites, WordPress is the most popular open-source website platform and is used by companies such as the New York Times, CNN.com, Forbes, Reuters, McLean's, eBay, Sony, BestBuy and more.
For small business owners who need to be able to make changes to their own websites, WordPress has the most user-friendly interface, and as an open-source product, it is constantly being improved by developers the world over.
Too, there are NO limitations nowadays on incorporating business plugins into WordPress that help you sell your goods online.
The fact of the matter is that staff you hire in future are much more likely to be familiar with the WordPress platform than any other and their knowledge will save you money and time.
If YOUR webmaster insists on using Dupral, Joomla or some other content management system for your website, you should request a conversion to WordPress ASAP.
Your business site doesn't show up on Google+ and Google Maps
If you own a hair salon in a resort town like the one in which I live — Penticton, British Columbia, Canada — then you know that a good percentage of your business in summer months comes from vacationers who search the web for a highly recommended stylist located close to their hotel or other accommodations.
Your business NEEDS to show up on Google+ and Google Maps. If your webmaster hasn't spent the half an hour needed to do this for your business, then you really need to fire them now.
Your site doesn't have a sign-up form for news and special offers
They will also understand and explain the importance and necessity of having an autoresponder service for your business website — in order to generate leads and keep your potential and existing clients returning for more news and special offers.
It is not good enough for your site to display a link to ‘newsletter'.
The email capture form MUST be located on your homepage and every other page of your website.
If it is not, then fire your webmaster now!
Your business has no presence on social media sites
In addition to showing up in Google's search results and business listings, your business must also have a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the other top social media sites.
That's easier than you may think.
Setting up a Twitter account takes only minutes. Facebook profile and page
Most of the new articles you post to your blog can be automatically posted to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
Your webmaster should know how to set those auto-postings up – if not, fire them now!
The current year isn't reflected in your copyright notice
Your website looks really out-dated when your copyright notice shows the year in which your website was constructed, but doesn't include the current year, i.e. Copyright 2010, instead of Copyright 2010 – 2014 (or current year).
Adding the snippet of code that always shows the current year is super-simple.
If your webmaster hasn't installed that code or doesn't know how to install that code — imagine how much else they don't know about basic website development!
Your website links to your webmaster's business site
This bugs me to no end.
YOU paid your webmaster to develop your website and THEY get free advertising?
That is just so wrong! They should pay YOU to advertise their site.
Seriously, if someone finds your site because it fulfills all the requirements of a great business site and then wants to know who designed it — YOU, the website owner, should earn a referral fee based on your recommendation.
Webmasters who place links to their own business sites on the bottom of their clients' websites are simply self-serving… and need to be fired.
You hang on to a bad website due to loyalty to a friend or family member
Your business website is a representation of your BUSINESS and the point of your business should be to support existing clients and attract new clients to generate income… NOT to make your webmaster feel good about themselves.
If you've been conned into believing that a friend or family member who builds websites for friends and family members is actually a ‘webmaster' then you get what you deserve when they don't or can't turn your website into a real BUSINESS website.
After all — your website is not personal – it's business.
If your small business website suffers from some of the aforementioned issues, what you need is a REAL webmaster or preferably a ‘web developer' — someone who knows what it takes to make your website visible and functional for existing and potential clients.
If you can't afford a webmaster or web developer who knows how to design a website for business, then take responsibility for your online marketing and learn how to make simple changes on your own after your web ‘designer' has set you up with a pretty WordPress site.
There's no shortage of WordPress tutorials, some of which will teach you how to broaden your reach and earn revenue from your website beyond the local level (including my Affiliate Blogger Pro). 🙂
Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!