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We advise a lot about the things you should do to improve your small business website. Elements like regular blogging, adding contact information, and using tools to level up your analytics are things that will enhance your website, which we’ve written about in the past. Those are the “dos” of your site, but what about the “don’ts?” Let’s go over a few things that ruin the user experience (UX) of your small business website and what you should do instead. These are the things you should avoid:

PDF Files

There really are different opinions on the use of PDF files on your small business website. Because it’s easy for website owners and administrators to upload such files, you will hear those who favor their use. However, when you consider that the number of mobile phone users in 2019 is predicted to reach 4.68 billion, you can understand why we advocate for the elimination of PDF files on a small business website. Have you ever tried to view a PDF file from your mobile device? It’s an excruciating experience that often inspires you to just give up and try a different website.

Restaurant websites are the guiltiest of relying on the use of a PDF. It seems like a simple way to display a menu, but because of its inability to read well on a smart phone or tablet, it ruins UX (and possibly kills the appetite of the potential diner who was considering visiting the restaurant). Spas, salons, and other small businesses who need to share their menu of services with customers also, unfortunately, fall into this bad habit. Here’s what small businesses who need to feature a menu should do instead:

  • Build a separate landing page for the menu. Keep it interactive. Allow for your potential customers to search your menu. Use categories, so that users can view just the happy hour section, if that’s all they’re interested in. And, give your visitors a way to hover over a menu item with a popup that provides more information, such as ingredients and/or other details. Tip: keep hover-over content brief and succinct. Less is more.
  • Use a plugin. At eWebscapes, we build small business websites powered by the open-source platform WordPress. And with WordPress, you can extend its capabilities and features in a plethora of ways through the easy installation of plugins. A quick search of the WordPress plugin repository will help you find many options for displaying a menu on your website in a way that improves UX. Tip: read the reviews of the plugins you’re considering and select one with developers who are actively supporting and updating it.

Images That Are Not Optimized

Size matters. There is such a thing as too big, and we’re not just talking about file size. For some reason, many website administrators and owners operate under the assumption that bigger is better. It’s not. If the image size you plan to display on your website only needs to be about 500 pixels x 500 pixels, why did you upload an image that’s 2000 pixels x 2000 pixels to your media library? When you practice techniques for image optimization, you reduce the bulk and weight of your small business website, which enhances its speed and UX. That’s a good thing. Users love speedy websites, especially on mobile. Optimize your images (and video, too!) and make your website visitors happier. Here are some things you can do:

  • Manually compress your images. Using photo editing software, such as Photoshop or the free online tool Image Resize, will give you the power to create web-friendly images.
  • Use JPG/JPEG images.
  • Use a plugin. You read that right. Yes, another plugin. The WordPress plugin Smush promises to scan your currently uploaded images, plus new ones added, and cut all the unnecessary data from them, thus improving the performance of your small business website.

(Tip: read this article on image optimization for a deeper understand of this topic.)

404 Errors

I absolutely love it when I click on a link to view a web page and I get a 404 error!

…said no one ever! 

First, let’s define a 404 error. A 404 error is when the web page that the user is trying to access cannot by found by the server. It’s the website server’s way of telling the website visitor, “Hey, I can’t find that!”

When this occurs, the user usually sees a page message that says something along the lines of, “404 Not Found,” or “HTTP 404,” leaving that person frustrated and confused. Have you ever tried to open the door to a brick-and-mortar store with an obvious “Open” sign either lit or placed in their window, only to find the door locked and no one inside in the business to help you? Finding a 404 error on your small business website feels a lot like that. It’s disappointing and even a bit upsetting. Below is an example of what a 404 at eWebscapes looks like. We built our own template for such an occasion.

There are a variety of reasons why 404 errors may be showing up on your website. You could have forgotten to hit Publish when you added a new page or blog post. Then you shared a link for that page/post thinking it was published.

Website migrations are also a culprit for causing 404 errors. Moving from one server to another can usually be the issue. Or, maybe you tried to do a little redesign of your own, cleaned up some categories, maybe even created new pages to replace old ones, but the URLs for those older pages are still out there in the social media world or indexed by Google. That can create 404 errors, too. So, what do you do?

  • Identify 404 errors. Usually, 404 errors are brought to the attention of website owners and admin by visitors, which can be pretty embarrassing. Track those complaints and fix those errors immediately. However, you can beat user gripes to the punch by relying on Google Console to search and crawl your site for 404 errors and eliminate them without anyone ever noticing.
  • Use a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect permanently forces an old, dead link to the newly active one. So for those times when you created a new page to replace an old one, or you decided to delete an old blog post for whatever reason, you can permanently redirect that old URL to one that you select. There are different ways for accomplishing this. Because we use Yoast SEO at eWebscapes, we can easily depend on it to create 301 redirects whenever necessary. Still, there are other plugins available to accomplish the same. We recommend reading this article from WPBeginner to learn about them.

By making an effort to improve the UX of your small business website, you will be strengthening your relationship with potential customers, as well as your regular ones. Plus, your website will just make a better impression, and that’s crucial, if you’d like to keep visitors coming back for more. Put an end to ruining the user experience of your small business website. Take some time to work on these recommended improvements, but if you find yourself in a pickle and need the assistance of a web design professional to create a killer UX for your small business website, please contact us. We’d love to help!

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