Small businesses are the backbone of our country. They are what make our communities great, and have a great deal of economic impact. But, many small business owners haven’t fully embraced that “thing” we are on hundreds of times a day – the Internet.

Companies like Amazon are crushing the little guy by making online commerce easy, leaving small businesses in the dust. Part of the reason for this is poor design.

There’s nothing like coming across a website from the ’90s era filled with blinking text, grainy images, and Comic Sans fonts to scare off prospective customers for good (if your website resembles anything like what I just described, you should really be paying attention to this article).

If you haven’t updated your website in the last 5 years, you could be teetering towards “scary”. This may seem like a large undertaking, however there are many ways to avoid this.

Luckily, there’s hope:

Eliminate the mystery. Some older sites have a lot of fluff. If a user can’t figure out what your site is about, they’re not going to become a customer. Think about your business’ message and revise. Ask yourself: would you buy what you’re selling?

Condense your content. Your website shouldn’t have long scrolling pages. Review what can be cut or reworded, and make sure the flow of your content makes sense. Make it easy for users to find what they need.

Use white space. A lot of folks think all of the information should be crammed together, front and center. But, clearly separating your content out using white space has shown to help increase user’s attention to your website. Not to mention, it makes your website look more modern and inviting.

Make your website mobile friendly. Most users on the internet are accessing it on their smartphones. Because of this, you should make sure that your website adjusts to multiple screen sizes so that users don’t have trouble finding the information they need quickly.

Speed things up. If your website loads slowly, users are going to abandon ship and visit a competitor. Give Google’s page speed tool a try and check if your site is running behind, and trailing the competition. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load: you’re losing potential customers.

When in doubt, consult a designer. Designers are worth their weight in gold. They’ve got experience, and can usually make a quick diagnosis of what is needed to improve your website.

If you can’t make these changes on your own, or don’t even know where to start, find a designer who can whip your website into shape.

Websites don’t have to be scary. If small businesses can get on board, it will open them up to a whole new world.

This article originally appeared on

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