May 15, 2012


antiqueOld cameras become antiques. Old websites become embarrassments.

A website remains essential for small business. An outdated website is better than no website but not by much. An outdated website is an easy-to-spot sign of neglect that you're condoning. Clients might wonder what other shortcuts you've taken.

This post has ideas to freshen your website.


A static website looks dead or neglected. Add life. Embed your Twitter feed. Have a plugin to show your latest blog posts.

Remove notices of upcoming events which took place last year. Post back issues of your newsletter so that visitors know what to expect before they subscribe.


Stop teasing visitors. They don't want to fill out forms to get contacted by you at your convenience. Tell them what they want to know. Post a price list or typical price ranges or your hourly rate. Give estimated completion times. Explain your satisfaction guarantee. Describe your process.

Don't worry about your competitors finding out. They may already know or can guess. Don't worry about potential clients balking. They'll find out eventually. Why not deal with the objections online? You'll save their time and yours.


There's nothing wrong with stock photos unless they look like standard stock photos. Avoid predictability. On your contact page, why show a too-staged-to-be-real smiling woman wearing a headset? We've seen that too many times before. Use real photos instead.


Don't say "we" if there's only you. Use your size as an advantage. Tell visitors why smaller is better. Exude your personality. Leave bland for the big businesses.


Keep in mind that for visitors, "you" (meaning them) is powerful. Rather than saying "Our clients choose us for speedy service" how about "You get speedy service from ThisCo" or "ThisCo gives you speedy service". If your competitors also give comparable service, you'll need to come up with something that's different (and still true).


Your company has people. Show who they are with a photo and description. Include their contact information too. You want to be easy to reach. In the biographies, include links to LinkedIn for testimonials given and received. Embed their business-related Twitter feed, rather than having a link.
Use the same head-shot on LinkedIn and Twitter. Consistency helps with branding.


"Most websites suck because HiPPOs create them."
--- Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics
HiPPO means "highest-paid person's opinion". The design you like may not suit your clients. Don't give undue weight to your personal preferences. Use a professional web designer and pay some attention to their recommendations. Your site is not for you.

If your website gets lots of traffic, you can use real-time A/B testing to identify what works best (see Inside the technology that's changing the rules of business, Wired, Apr 25, 2012).


Some visitors will visit your website on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. How does your site look? If you're using Adobe Flash, parts of your site won't function on iPhones or iPads.


You can create a business card using templates. You can also create websites with blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger. You could even do the work yourself. Possible doesn't mean ideal. Your site might look generic and imply your work is too.


Make your contact information easy to find. Post real clickable email address like rather than "myname [at]". With good spam filters, you won't get deluged with spam.


Appearances matter because clients and potential clients can't tell if you're good at what you say you do. Maybe you were, but are you now? Maybe you can still do good work, but will you for them?

You can provide content to allay the fears. If you claim to offer an excellent seminar, show live video clips. Show samples of the handouts. Consider video testimonials from attendees. There's lots you can do without much effort. 


PS When was your website last updated?

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