While even our lumbering retail giants are, albeit reluctantly, beginning to embrace the digital world, it appears that the online progress of Australian small businesses is a little patchy.
This week saw the latest report card on how Aussie SMEs are doing online. A survey by design firm Snap found that 29% of the nation’s small firms don’t have a website, with nearly half of those that have an online presence waiting a ponderous six months before taking the plunge.
The research follows previous studies that show the proportion of website-less businesses could be as high as 50%.
Similarly, an Optus poll in May found that just 18% of SMEs offer mobile apps, although 48% say they plan to do so.
With the value of online transactions set to balloon to $37 billion in Australia next year, it’s perhaps surprising that so many small businesses are reluctant to invest in a new website.
But Snap’s research uncovered reasons why small firms may be wary of online. Businesses with websites reported that they encounter a number of problems, which may put off the uninitiated.
Here are the top five website errors committed by Australian small businesses, along with what to do about them:
1. Confusing navigation
The basics of enabling customers to find their way around a website is the biggest headache for small businesses, according to the study, with 65% identifying it as a major issue.
If you are really struggling with this, it’s probably time to get outside help to avoid wasting your time and money.
While navigation (65%) is the major issue for most websites, ill-conceived design (42%), spelling mistakes (29%), unnecessary website downtime (29%) and broken links/error 404 messages (24%) also prove to be bugbears.
Stephen Edwards, CEO of Snap, says: “I think a lot of people designing websites don’t know where they need to go or what they need to ask. People receiving the brief are often backroom technicians.”
“I see a lot of websites and it’s about function versus look and feel, so it’s a very conflicting story.”
“Deal with a professional that has a bit of history in the market. Go to people who have credibility.”
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