Why Small Business Owners Shouldn’t Design Their Own Websites

You’re a small business owner who has invested years–decades–into your business.  You’ve ridden out the changes and stayed successful.  You know your business model, your industry, and your customers.

Now you need a new website design.  A picture develops in your mind of how you’ll convey all you’ve been through, all you know.  Your business is your pride and joy…so your website will be emblematic of your knowledge, your professionalism, your journey, your vision.

Your.

Here is the problem: your small business website is not really about you.  It’s not for you.

You are not the target audience for your website.  Your prospective clients are.

Think of Your Target Audience

No matter what the industry, product, or service, there is one consistent truth about a small business website:  the primary target audience are people being introduced to your business.  You’re making a first impression.

And at this point, they don’t care much about you.  They don’t care about why you started your business or the challenges you overcame to get where you are.  They don’t care that you believe you are the best.

The question on their mind is:  What’s in it for me?  They have a problem they need solved, and they want to see if you can solve it.  Online searchers are motivated totally by self-interest.

Successful SMB websites target these needs.  They embrace the self-interest of the visitor and accommodate it in every way possible.  They make an irresistible offer that grabs the visitors attention and makes them feel they’ve really found the best option out there.

Designing for Conversion

A website built around user experience converts far better than a business-centric site.  A website that speaks directly to the needs of the target audience converts better than a business site that talks about itself.

Which brings us back to the involvement of you, the business owner, in the website design process.

At first you probably think your input and vision are the most important for the project.  You know far more about your business than anyone–this is your baby.

Which entirely the problem.  The perspective you need to communicate to is that of someone who is totally new to your business.  You want to put yourself into the shoes of someone who is looking at your business for the first time.

As a business owner who has invested decades of your life into your business, you are the least objective person there is about your business.  By the nature of your position, you have the hardest time looking at your business from a totally fresh perspective.

This exposes you to one of the biggest traps when designing websites:  small business owners who can’t get out of their own way.

They obsess over minor details that will do nothing to help the site convert.  Every image, color, font, layout has to be just so.  Copy is stilted, wordy, and boring. These project often take 3-5 times longer to complete.  The result is a bloated, business-centric site filled with content that is irrelevant to everyone except the business owner.

6 months later they wonder why their website converts poorly.

How to Avoid Building a Business-Centric SMB Website Design

So how can you avoid creating a business website that is the bore at a party who hogs the conversation?

  • Collaborate.  Work with a website designer who understands online conversion goals and listen to them.  Talk to existing clients and ask them about what drew them to you when they first engaged your business.  Get fresh eyes on design mock-ups and listen to the impressions of people looking at your content for the first time.
  • Conversions.  Here is the rule:  Design your business website around lead-generation goals.  All content should support these goals.
  • Simplicity.  A business website is not a work of art.  It’s not your first-born child. It’s a tool.  Simple, clean designs that make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for do the best.

Your website is important in defining your company identity and conveying your value proposition.  As the business owner, you have a lot to contribute in these areas.

But don’t micro-manage your website design project to fit your personal vision.  You’ll waste time, get frustrated, and end-up with a site that more about you and less about the job it’s supposed to do.

Contact us today and get a Free Quote from a Professional Designer.


Stephen has a 30+ year career in Information Technology which includes Web Design and Digital Marketing. He's also a Foodie, loves music, Winter and the Oregon Coast. More often than not you'll find him at the keyboard dreaming up new ways to promote and market his clients and the causes he cares about. You can reach Stephen at [email protected]

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