Rand McCarley, of 14th Colony Scout, lists his 13 reasons web sites fail, following up on Todd Malicoat’s You Wear a Suit to Work, but let Your Nephew Design Your Website?. Both posts are getting at the same important point: professionalism is a critical part of web site development.

Your website is no less a reflection of your business than your physical location is or than your are yourself in a business meeting, and the design and detail of your site should be given just as much thought as any other aspect of setting up your business.

Although there are certainly vast differences in the visual impact of a site which can be appropriate, there are certain common factors which all sites should have in common. Rand lists a great number of these issues: but they all come down to one thing – the essential mistake a business can make with their website is not thinking about their customers throughout the development process.

Taking a few of Rand’s points for examples:

3. Quitter’s choice. These site owners started and got frustrated that things weren’t happening fast enough or they got too busy or [insert a whole list of excuses] and quit.

7. Stale abandonment. The site is out of date and out of touch. Some stuff may not work anymore causing errors. This is akin to having a busted window but the breeze you feel is the viewers rushing out.

13. Glad that’s over. Thinking the site is launched and won’t need tracking, adjustments or follow-up. Every site is a work in progress no matter how complete it is for the moment.

Anybody making these mistakes? The common theme: not thinking about the customer. Your website is about you: but it’s not FOR you. Always approach your site as if you were a customer. Try and put yourself in their shoes: if you knew nothing about your company except what’s on the website – what would you do?