dog trying to escape from a kennel

Building and maintaining a successful website is tricky for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Unfortunately, many smaller companies lack the budget to hire a top-of-the-line agency for a full website redesign.

However, with audience attention spans diminishing to lower and lower levels — heck, — even a goldfish has a longer attention span than most people — the need for an effective website that stands out from your competition has never been greater.

Your Dated Website Is Costing You

There are many reasons why SMBs should break away from their bad websites.

In an ironic twist of circumstances, so-called early adopters — those business owners that jumped on the internet bandwagon early on — own many of these dubious websites.

Created at the dawn of the internet era, these websites now look dated. Since responsive website design only became the norm between 2013 and 2014, many SMB websites built earlier are not mobile friendly. In fact, some suggest that just 11.8 percent of all websites are responsive — despite the fact desktops have devolved to secondary touchpoints for a large percentage of the US digital audience.

While "never judge a book by its cover" is a popular adage, that thinking does not translate to "never judge a business by its website."

On average, web users take just 50 milliseconds to judge your website. That’s 0.05 seconds, or less time than it takes to blink.

In addition, Google penalizes businesses that don’t have mobile compatible websites by ranking them lower on mobile searches. With 72 percent of consumers keen to use mobile friendly sites and 67 percent willing to buy via mobile internet, unresponsive websites are not something small business owners can afford to ignore.

As it happens, non-mobile friendly websites are disappearing from top Google rankings. According to Moovweb, when it comes to page rankings, 83 percent of the time the top result is a mobile friendly site — and the top three results are mobile friendly 81 percent of the time.

If you are not in the top three results in a Google search, your page visits drop up to 90 percent. So it’s easy to understand why SMBs with outdated websites need to move quickly to rectify this problem.

The Complexities of Building a Website

Many smaller business owners lack the technical nous or time to update their websites themselves. More likely, they will need the help a website designer or re-designer.

But this process is not always clear-cut. While they may have experience using and working with websites, many small business owners don’t understand what sits behind a website and what work goes into building it. As such, many SMB owners have expectations for their websites that their budgets simply cannot match.

Website redesigns for small businesses can be very expensive indeed. According to the Executionists, a web design, development and marketing agency, the cost for a redesign can range anywhere between $5,760 and $13,800 — not a small price tag by any means.

Additionally, the National Federation of Independent Businesses recommends against spending any less than $2,500 on a new website, which, in a worst case scenario, could be a better option than just a redesign.

Overcoming Website Problems

Luckily, there are a number of options that SMB business owners can use to spruce up their website and get their page ranking in a healthier place, without breaking the bank and having to use professional help.

While it may not be possible to position your smaller business next to the likes of Apple, an attractive and responsive website that users like to use can move you closer towards them online.

As discussed, redesigns can often be more expensive than a new website. If you are tech savvy and are feeling creative, do-it-yourself options such as Squarespace and Wix are affordable options for building a great looking website. Using them means starting from scratch but can end results can be very professional.

Of course, businesses can also update their websites on platforms they already use by changing their site template to one that is responsive and mobile friendly. However, this can cause problems if the new template is not compatible with the content and structure of their previous website.

It’s always a good idea when taking this route that businesses back up their website before installing a new template to prevent an irreversible website-related disaster.

Where to Get Website Design Help

In many cases, SMBs should consider enlisting help to redesign their website. Options such as 99Designs and Designcrowd offer good redesign services that SMEs can use to get their websites looking their best.

However, both services offer just graphical redesign and will still require the input of developers and coders; this is where the real expense lies.

To cut back on expenses like these, small businesses can also make use of tools like Unsplash to get free use of high quality, high-resolution images. Similarly coverr.co provides free background videos for websites, which are great, as long as the website template you use supports it.

In time, artificial intelligence — as exhibited by The Grid — could have the potential to revolutionize website redesigns. However, it is no good waiting for such technology to become widely available.

SMBs need to make sure their websites are as good as they can possibly be, as soon as they can.

There is no reason for a small business to suffer with a bad website — it just requires a little bit of homework to find the most affordable options.