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In honor of National Small Business week, this post is dedicated to all the little guys out there working with a small group of dedicated employees. As most of you could probably attest, working for a small business has tons of perks. Frequently, though, employees have to wear a multitude of hats. Consequentially, some small business websites end up becoming less of a priority and more of a maintenance task that is passed from one person to the next, depending on the day - or worse, a task that is neglected altogether.

In this day and age, your small business cannot afford to disregard its website. Here are the top 4 mistakes that small businesses make with their company websites as well as the more strategic alternatives.

1. Rushed

Just as is the case with your business model and strategy, a website needs a strategy and comprehensive plan. You don't wake up one morning with a great idea for a business and slap a down payment on a store-front that afternoon. Yes, you need a website; and yes, you need one promptly. This doesn't mean, however, that you should launch a sloppy website just to have a digital presence. Typos and disorganized content will do more damage than not having a website at all.

Instead: To begin your planning, read through this jargon-free guide to the website planning process. This source will contextualize the process for you and open your eyes to the importance of content organization, the value of user-experience design, and the need to implement call-to-actions.

2. Too Flashy

We get it. You're a small business, and you want to get noticed. There are some truly horrendous sites across the web that think that a few animated GIFS and a splash of yellow are the way to do that. Not so, guys. You don't want to overwhelm the typical site user upon their entrance to your website.

Instead: Choose your color scheme strategically. There are several high quality tools online that are completely free that will help you do this. Check out Adobe Kuler, Pictaculous or Colour Lovers as a place to get started. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, unless you have a image rotation module of still photos, not much should be moving on your website. I know floating sparkles sound intriguing, but unless you're selling Mardi Gras costumes, it's best to save those for craft time with your kids.

3. DIY

In an effort to save capital, we can understand how hiring your nephew who is a freshman in college but SUPER interested in possibly, maybe, majoring in web design seems like a great way to offset the costs of hiring a web design firm. The problem with trying to "do-it-yourself" is that unless you are professionally trained, you could end up knee-deep in incomprehensible HTML code. Even open-source platforms like Wordpress and Drupal can become unpredictably complicated once you attempt to add functionality down the road as your business grows such as e-commerce or Intranet capability. Sure, Dreamweaver is great software for some to create a website, but unless you have a strong understanding of code, you're going to waste a lot of time and energy trying to create the website you're envisioning. Combine the time of educating yourself and implementing your website vision with the cost of additional image-editing software and a few new web fonts, and you'll start to see the price really adding up. Trust us, save the DIY projects for your favorite Pinterest board.

Instead: Though is will cost you more money upfront, hire a professional. We can't say this enough. The ROI is there. People who are trained are going to have the expertise that comes with years of experience. Plus, they have likely worked with a wide variety of clients, meaning that they have seen what has worked and what hasn't worked. Worried about the cost, still? Set a firm budget. If you hire the right people, they will respect that budget and create a website you'll be proud of within your financial limitations.

4. Not Tracking

Once your company website is live and launched, pour yourself a stiff drink and pat yourself on the back, right? You've done a great job of planting the money tree... now just wait for the cash to flow? Not quite. Not tracking the traffic on your website with Google Analytics or a comparable tracking software is equivalent to building a gorgeous billboard and having it face the opposite way of the highway. It's pointless.

Instead: We recommend installing Google Analytics because its free and robust.  Once you create a Google Analytics account, you'll be able to add the tracking code to your website. Tracking your website traffic is the only way to make your website a measurable business tool. The numbers will also communicate to you how your target user interacts with your products or services. Which pages are getting the most traffic? Which pages are driving users away? By analyzing this data, you will not only learn about the needs of your potential customers but also be able to make strategic alterations to your site based on how users interact with the content. For more information on traffic analysis services, click here.

Whether you are tackling your business' first website or thinking about a website redesign, there are many traps you can fall into during the process. If you have sufficient training and understanding of coding, design and implementation, don't forget to do your homework. Design trends and available software are always evolving. Make sure you are completely educated with the current offerings. If you don't have the necessary man-power, seriously consider hiring a team of professionals to help you through the process.

What small business website traps have you fallen into or seen others fall into?  What have you done to avoid these pit-falls? Comment below to share your own experiences with us.

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