So you have a great idea for a business. After letting the idea roll around in your head, you decide to give it a go and make a list of things you need to do. On the list is “Get a website,” but you have no idea how to do that, what to look for and how the website fits into your business’ overall marketing plan.

Your business’ website is an important part of the business’ marketing and branding efforts. It’s where people can get answers to their questions about your business, or buy your product or service.

If your website is not well-designed or functions poorly, your business will not only take off more slowly, you’ll have wasted precious capital that could have been spent elsewhere to market your business and increase revenue.

Here are some of the things business owners have said when making vital mistakes about their business websites:

1. “I need a website for my business as fast as possible.”

Speed is not your friend when it comes to a properly designed website. Spend the time researching your target audience and your specific market. The data that comes out of this research will guide you every step of the way through the design process.

One example of how this data can affect is design is the age of your average customer. If your customers are on the young side, you’ll likely want the design to be social-media-friendly and contain lots of multimedia. If your customers are older, you may want the font size to be on the larger side and give extra attention to accessibility requirements.

Missing the mark on your website’s design because you it doesn’t meet the needs of your customers is simply setting it up to flounder.

2. “My website needs to be fancy and flashy or else it’s not worth doing.”

A website does not need to be flashy to be effective. Look at Craigslist and Google - they are hardly what one would consider “flashy” yet are extremely successful. Simply stated, the design for your businsess website should be aligned with the mission of your business and the needs of your customers. Sometimes this means a “flashy” site, a simple site, or something in between.

Also, keep in mind that a website with a lot of memory-intensive interactions may cause problems when viewing the website on mobile devices.

3. “I’m not really sure what users are doing on my website.”

Well, what do you want them to do? Are you selling a product? Are you building an email list? Are you wanting customers to call you directly? It’s vital that you define the purpose of your website, and then make it crystal clear to visitors how they can take action. The content on the page should answer the question “why should I do business with you?” and contain a “call to action” that is prominently displayed.

4. “I want to hire the cheapest designer I can find.” or “I need an expensive agency to design my website.”

We regularly speak with people that had previously hired a “cheap” designer, only to learn that the website was not meeting business goals or was poorly designed. On the flip side, many clients learned the hard way that working with a large agency is not always the best decision for a small, ROI-focused business. In a nutshell, make sure your website budget is big enough to meet your needs and research your designer to ensure you’ll receive quality work product and service.

5. “Once my website is launched, I won’t need to mess with it for a long time.”

Your customers look at your website as an extension of your brand. If you don’t put the time and energy into making sure the content of your site meets your customers’ needs and gives them the information they’re looking for, they will take notice and go to a competitor that has the customer on top of mind. The content on your site should be updated weekly - at a minimum. Not only will your customers see that your business is active, your website will fare better in search engines.

6. “My website needs to appeal to anyone and everyone.”

This relates to #1 - know your target demographic and market. Figure out who your website needs to target and focus your efforts on making it the best experience possible for them. Otherwise, you’ll spend time and money making the website look good for people that might not ever visit it.

7. “I’ll just build the website myself.”

Your business’ website is an part of your company’s brand as much as the logo. Unless you have design experience, you are taking an unnecessary risk with the sucess of your company’s marketing plan. Put your company’s best foot forward and take every opportunity you get to make it successful.