Common Website Challenges & Solutions For Oakland’s Small Businesses

Living and working in the dynamic backdrop of Oakland, CA, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the infectious energy of its small business scene. As a solo business owner serving this community, I deeply resonate with the grit and tenacity that goes into making a small business thrive. From the cozy cafés in Temescal to the eclectic clothing boutiques, local restaurants, and small shops lining our streets – and not forgetting the passionate street vendors around Lake Merritt – our business tapestry is woven with resilience, determination, and dreams.

Yet, in my journey, I’ve witnessed many peers grapple with the challenges of the digital realm. In a city as tech-savvy as Oakland, a website is the gateway to new opportunities. But all too often, these digital portals come with their own set of glitches, from slow-loading websites to insecure connections to ADA non-compliance and other accessibility issues. And I firmly believe that no business owner should have to divert their passion and energy to untangle the web of these complications.

That’s where I step in. With a mission to let small business owners do what they do best – run their businesses – I tackle the digital challenges head-on, paving the way for seamless online success. In this guide, I’ll highlight those nagging website annoyances that often feel too great to overcome. Yet, with a bit of expert guidance they can be swiftly and effectively resolved. Here’s to letting your business shine online while you focus on what truly matters – your vision and your customers.

Broken Links

You know that feeling when you click on a link expecting to find what you’re looking for, and instead, you get a frustrating “page not found” message? It’s like expecting a delicious bite of a sandwich and biting into air instead. If it’s a link on your business website that’s leaving folks hanging, they might just decide to move on to the next thing.

What’s Going On & Is This Common?

Here’s the scoop – these are links that should take you somewhere, but they don’t. Maybe the page doesn’t exist anymore, or there’s some error stopping it from showing up. It’s actually pretty common, especially on sites that have been around the block or aren’t checked on regularly.

But Why Do My Links Break?

It’s usually because things shift around. Maybe you updated your website and moved some pages, or you linked to a cool article or site outside of yours, and they changed things up. Without regular checks, these links can end up leading to a dead-end.

How Can I Spot These Tricky Links?

There are some cool tools out there like Broken Link Checker or Screaming Frog. They’re like the trusty flashlight you keep in the drawer – shining a light on those broken links hiding in the shadows of your website.

Alright, So How Do I Fix Them?

A regular check-up is the name of the game. Just like you’d spring clean your store or office, give your website a once-over now and then. Find those broken links and either update them or send them packing.

Slow Loading…

Ever tried to pull up a website while you’re waiting in line for your coffee, and it just… keeps… spinning? Yeah, we’ve all been there. And has it ever been your business website that’s lagging behind? Well, that loading time is your audience clicking away to see what your competitor has to offer.

So, here’s the thing – if your website takes ages to load, you’re not alone. It’s a widespread hiccup, especially if you’ve got a lot of pictures or videos or if your site hasn’t been given the TLC it deserves.

Why Is My Site So Slow?

A couple of usual suspects cause this. Maybe you’ve uploaded some really high-quality images (because, of course, you want your products to look their best!) but didn’t compress them. Or maybe the platform you’re hosting your site on isn’t up to snuff. And sometimes? It’s just some messy behind-the-scenes code that’s slowing things down.

How Do I Figure Out What’s Wrong?

There are a couple of super handy tools that can give you the lowdown on your site’s speed. Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix are like the web doctor’s stethoscope – they’ll give you a quick health check and let you know what’s up.

Okay, So How Do I Fix It?

Firstly, those gorgeous images? Let’s make sure they’re web-friendly with some compression magic. Then, consider giving your site a cozy new home with better hosting. And as for the messy code? A bit of cleanup can go a long way in making sure your site runs like a well-oiled machine. Depending on how you created your website, there might be a plugin that easily solves these issues.

So, now we’re getting into more complex stuff, but you might be able to still do these alone.

Insecure Website (No SSL)

You know when you’re chatting with a friend and someone eavesdrops on your conversation? A website without SSL is a bit like that – except it’s not just harmless gossip that might get overheard, but important details like customer info. If your site doesn’t have that little “https” in the web address, you’re essentially broadcasting sensitive stuff over an open channel. Whether you’re missing SSL entirely or just rocking an old version, both are like leaving the door wide open to data eavesdroppers.

What’s This About & How Often Does It Happen?

Alright, here’s the lowdown: websites need an SSL to encrypt their data and keep things confidential. It’s a bit like whispering a secret instead of broadcasting it with a megaphone. While some sites are entirely without it, others have one that’s just out-of-date. Both scenarios are more common than you’d think, especially among small businesses trying to juggle a million tasks.

But Why Do Websites Miss Out on This?

With everything that comes with running a business, sometimes the behind-the-scenes web stuff takes a backseat. Some folks might not even realize their SSL has an expiration date, kind of like that yogurt you just found in the back of the fridge.

How Can I Check My Site’s Security Status?

Look for “https://” at the beginning of your web address. That “s” stands for secure. If it’s missing or your browser gets fussy with security warnings when you visit your site, you’ve got some homework to do.

Got It. How Do I Secure My Website?

First, if you’re missing SSL, get that sorted. You can call your hosting company and have them set you up. If you’ve got an old one, it’s time for an upgrade. Think of it as trading in those worn-out shoes for a brand-new, waterproof pair. Opt for SSL certificates that auto-update, so you don’t have to mark expiration dates on your calendar. Set it, forget it, and let your site shine securely.

Non-compliance with ADA Regulations

Ever walked into a store and noticed the ramps for wheelchair users, or heard the audible signals at crosswalks? Just as the physical world has guidelines to make spaces accessible to everyone, the digital realm has its own set of rules. In the web world, this is all about ensuring everyone – regardless of their abilities – can interact with online content.

What’s Going On & How Often Does It Happen?

Here’s the deal: some websites might unintentionally shut out folks with disabilities by not being accessible. This is about more than just doing the right thing; it’s about complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And, trust me, non-compliance is way more common than you’d think, especially among businesses that have a lot on their plate.

Why Are Sites Not ADA Compliant?

It’s not always intentional. Sometimes it’s just not knowing what’s needed, sometimes it’s getting overwhelmed by the tech details, and other times, well, it’s just slipping through the to-do list cracks.

How Do I Check My Site?

The best way is to have regular compliance checks or audits. There are tools and services that can review your site and pinpoint areas that need attention.

Alright, What’s The Fix?

Here’s the action plan: 1. scan your site to what the issues are. 2. Either use a plugin or… adjust your site features to make them ADA-friendly. This could mean tweaking colors for better contrast or making sure your site plays well with screen readers. And while you’re at it, it’s not a bad idea to chat with an expert in the field – they can offer guidance and ensure you’re not just compliant now, but stay that way in the future.

Poor Mobile Optimization

Ever tried browsing a website on your phone and felt like you were playing a game of digital pinball, bouncing around trying to find what you needed? It can be pretty maddening, right? That’s what happens when a site isn’t optimized for mobile.

What Are We Talking About & How Often Does It Happen?

In plain terms, we’re talking about websites that don’t play nice with mobile devices. And given that most folks in Oakland – and everywhere, really – use their phones for, well, everything, you’d be surprised how often this happens.

Why Isn’t Every Site Mobile Friendly?

Great question! Some websites were designed before smartphones took over the world and haven’t been updated since. Others might be newer but weren’t tested on different screen sizes. The “one size fits all” approach? It doesn’t quite work here.

How Can I Tell If My Site’s Optimized?

Easy trick: pull up your website on your phone. If you’re squinting, swiping, and scrolling in overdrive, there’s room for improvement. There are also some nifty online tools that’ll test your site’s mobile-friendliness for you.

Gotcha. How Do I Fix It?

Simply put: You’re not. Not that it can’t be fixed, but you’re not going to be the one who fixes it. Either you need to move your site to site builder service that automatically includes this in their templates, or you need to hire a professional.

Bringing It All Together

So here you are! Some or all of these things are an issue. You can try to solve them all yourself (but you’re way too busy doing what you do best), or you can contact me to take a look.

I’m right here on Grand Avenue. I’ll give you an honest assessment of your issue and let you know what you can attempt yourself (like calling your hosting company to make some simple behind the scenes changes) and what you might need me to do for you and the time it will take. If it will take time for me to do it, then you’ll see the price upfront. Otherwise, the suggestions I have for you to attempt are absolutely free.

I get it – the digital landscape can seem like a maze, and when you’re focused on delivering the best to your customers in-store, website woes can be a real headache. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to navigate this maze alone.

I’ve not only witnessed the vibrant spirit of our small businesses, but I’ve also dived deep into the intricacies of the digital world. I’ve dedicated years to mastering the web’s ever-evolving challenges so you don’t have to.

I’m familiar with the strengths, challenges, and ambitions of Oakland business owners. It’s not just about fixing a website; it’s about understanding the soul of an Oakland-based business and translating that essence into the digital realm. It’s about making sure that when someone visits your website, they feel the same warmth, authenticity, and passion that they would if they walked into your physical space.

When you work with me you’re getting a partner who genuinely cares about your success. Whether it’s speeding up your website, ensuring top-notch security, or making sure every single person can navigate your site with ease, I’ve got your back.

So, while you continue brewing that perfect cup of coffee, designing those unique outfits, crafting the finest dishes, or whatever magic you bring to our Oakland family, let me handle the web side of things. Together, we’ll make sure that your business doesn’t just shine on the streets of Oakland but sparkles online too.