10 Mistakes to Make When Designing Your Small Business Website and How to Avoid Them

Need to upgrade your website? If you’re a small business owner, a website makeover is essential to help you stay ahead of your competition. A healthy, attractive website helps your business:

  • generate leads
  • drive conversions
  • build brand loyalty

But for lots of small business folks, the whole makeover process can be overwhelming.

Don’t worry, this guide to the seven most common website makeover mistakes – and how to avoid them – will help you turn website visitors into loyal customers.

#1. Clinging Onto a Non-Responsive Website

One of the biggest problems I see is small business websites that are non-responsive – meaning the site doesn’t adapt to mobile devices. This forces your site visitors who use a cell phone to pinch and zoom to view each page. And while that’s annoying, the bigger issue is it gives them a sense you’re behind the times.

Ignoring the problem’s not going to make it disappear. According to Statista, in Q1 of 2019, 48.71 percent of site visitors used mobile phones. And Google notes 61% of users who have trouble accessing a website on a mobile phone won’t return. Instead, 40% will go directly to your competitor’s website!

So if you have a non-responsive website and you think you’re avoiding pain by not doing a makeover, think again. And if money’s an issue, check out my blog post on how you can convert your old website to WordPress for free.

#2. Outdated Information and/or Design

A website is a living document. But if you haven’t updated your website in years, it’s dead.

Small business owners need to update and maintain their websites on a regular basis for a number of reasons.

  • Accuracy Matters — If your website contains outdated information, potential customers won’t be able to find you and current customers are likely to be wooed away by your competitors.
  • Google Likes New Content — One of the ways Google ranks websites is based on how much new and fresh content you’re creating. If you frequently add new blog posts or pages, Google will notice and send relevant traffic your way.
  • Current = Relevant — Websites are continuously evolving. To stay in the game you need to incorporate new design trends and best practices.

#3. Buying the Wrong Theme

WordPress is an awesome platform. It powers over 20 million websites.

That’s right – 20 million!

We at Rushminute are strong believers in WordPress, but WordPress alone is a bit dull.

And that’s where themes come in. A theme gives your website it’s unique “look and feel”. Our favorite WordPress theme is Enfold (you can read more about WordPress and Enfold in my blog post).

Enfold can be endlessly styled to reflect the unique style of any business – from bakery to lawn care to tech startup.

Best of all, it’s easy for a small businessperson to update and manage on their own.

The catch is, if you decide to use an uncommon or custom designed theme, you’re virtually guaranteed to get more than your fair share of updating and support headaches. Sure, some themes may look snazzy, if they don’t a simple way to create new pages and solid support, you’ll likely have to either figure out how to solve problems by yourself or hire an expert.

Our advice: spare yourself the headaches and use WordPress and Enfold – they give you the best bang for your buck.

#4. Pokey Page Speed

In order to keep customers engaged, you need to make sure your site loads fast.

Google recommends your web pages load in under three seconds. If it takes longer than that, you’re pretty much assured you’re going to lose visitors.

The two main ways to ensure your site is snappy is to:

  • use a fast web host (if you’re looking for the best, you can read my review of SiteGround web hosting)
  • keep the design simple and efficient
  • make sure the file size of your pictures isn’t too large

You can check your website page load speed with a free tool from GTMetrix. Their thorough report breaks down specific actions you can take to improve your page load times.

GTMetrix Speed Test

#5. Using Big Words

Another common problem is that many small business websites are too technical. Write simply. You’re not writing to impress peers, you’re website is talking to the average Joe or Jane and they’re just not as knowledgeable about the technical terms you use in your industry.

For instance, a person with back pain will type “back pain relief” into Google. If you have a web page that uses words like “alleviate lumbar inflammation”, you’re missing the mark for two reasons:

  1. the average consumer uses simple words
  2. readers won’t understand what you’re talking about and they’ll go to a page that’s easier to understand

For small business websites, use words that people will type into Google. Especially if you’re a B2C company. Otherwise Google will see the short visits to your site as a sign you’re not meeting your visitors’ needs.

#6. Your Text is Too Hard to Read

Writing good copy is hard. Make sure your design doesn’t make it impossible to read.

We all know a site with lots of white space is easy on the eyes. But beyond generous white space, don’t turn off your readers with design no-nos. Follow these rules:

  • Limit the Line Length  The ideal width of a column of text is roughly 1.5x the lower case alphabet. Longer than that and it’s hard for the reader to find the start the next line.
  • Pick a Readable Font — This is particularly important for the paragraph text. If the font you choose is too fancy or stylized, readers will have trouble reading it. I use a sans-serif font — the fonts without the extra little flourishes — for web design 90% of the time because they are easier to read on screens.
  • Be Consistent — Readers like consistency, so make sure to use the same font treatments – font family, color, sizes – from page to page.

Covectra is an example of easy-to-read web design.

StellaGuard Example of Good Design

Though StellaGuard is a highly technical product, the text is simple and straightforward.

  • The text is easy for an average person to understand.
  • The font size and weight variations break up the text so that it’s easily scannable.
  • The icons visually reinforce each of the four benefits.

#7. Unrealistic SEO Expectations

Every small business owner wants their website to work hard for them.

That typically means they all want their new website to show up at the top of Google’s search result pages.

The truth is, a great website design makeover doesn’t really have all that much to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order for your nifty new website to rank high on Google and Bing, you need to invest in a solid SEO strategy.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when upgrading the SEO for your new site:

  • Write Long Blog Posts — Both Google and your site visitors will reward you if your content is very thorough and addresses a common customer “pain point”. Shoot for 1,500 word blog posts at a minimum.
  • Be Semantically Precise — Use heading tags – <h1> to <h6> – to break up the content on your page. Headings make your pages easier for both readers and Google bots to understand.
  • Use Yoast — If you have a WordPress site, use the free Yoast plugin to make sure your content is optimized for commonly used “keywords”. That way your web pages will have a better chance of ranking for commonly used search terms.

Check out how Rushminute uses Yoast to optimize page content for SEO:

Yoast SEO Plugin

  • Good use of a clear focus keyphrase: Custom Website.
  • The snippet preview shows how the page will show up in Google search results.
  • The green icons confirm the page has been optimized for Google and Bing.

Go Get ‘Em!

So there you have it. Seven website makeover mistakes you now know how to avoid. Now go out there and turn your website visitors into loyal customers!

Let Rushminute Help

There’s a lot that goes into creating and maintaining all of your digital properties. We know. We’ve helped dozens of clients in the U.S. strengthen their brands with website makeovers, social media management and digital marketing. If you’re in the process of updating your site or need a “go to web guy” to help you manage your digital properties, Rushminute can help. Contact Rushminute or schedule a virtual cup of coffee and we’ll talk about your vision and how a great website can help you achieve your business goals.



Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.