September 29, 2009 12:19 ET

Yola Finds Small Businesses See Web Design as the Most Daunting Aspect of Getting Online

A Survey of More Than 1000 Small Business Websites That Entered the Yola Makeover Challenge Highlights Small Business Owners' Desire for Stronger Websites

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - September 29, 2009) - Nearly half the nation's small businesses are without websites and even those with sites feel they are struggling, according to 1,100 small businesses surveyed by Yola, one of the nation's largest free website builders. The findings revealed that these small business owners, who submitted their sites for redesign in the Yola Makeover Challenge, are eager to strengthen their presence online, but feel they lack the fundamental knowledge and design skills needed for a great website.

One owner summed up the exasperation felt by small business owners perfectly, saying, "[My site] doesn't even draw flies! It's old, tired, dumpy and the traffic has shrunk to an embarrassment. Last year, it would draw between 60-80 new visitors per day and now we get 10-20. The conversion rate, which was never very good, is now equally dismal."

Design proved to be the most daunting obstacle, with entrants calling their existing sites "disjointed, unimaginative, and boring" while lamenting "It's just not attractive. I think I need to put some video playing, like YouTube on it."

Specific findings from the survey gave compelling insight into the trepidation small business owners feel when establishing a presence online. Owners cited the following reasons sites weren't drawing in business:

--  Poor design (50%)
--  Lack of experience and knowledge (23%)
--  Lack of traffic (18%)
--  Lack of funds (8%)
--  Lack of time (2%)

"The entrants' comments and our overall findings aren't surprising," said Randy Almond, vice president of Marketing for Yola and producer of "Five Steps to a Spectacular Website." "Unless they're lucky enough to have a graphic designer in the family, most people think that having a website of their own will be too difficult and too expensive. What they don't realize, is that with all of the new tools available to them, success is easy as long as you start off with a solid plan."

Almond went on to say that in Yola's experience working with websites, the company has found the five most common mistakes people make in building a website are:

--  Building without blueprints, starting the site
    without a clear plan
--  Forgetting their most important audience,
    approaching the site without their customers in mind
--  Overly complicating the site, with lengthy copy
    and complex graphics
--  Ignoring SEO and failing to take advantage of free
    tools that can get their site much more visibility
--  Publishing the site and forgetting about it,
    without getting feedback and improving it

"Web design can be intimidating, but in today's connected world, the web is the first place consumers turn when they want information about goods and services," said Vinny Lingham, CEO of Yola. "With the Yola Makeover Challenge, we were able to show small business owners the ease and affordability of turning an ineffective website into a compelling online presence that can boost business and highlight their personalities."

The Yola Makeover Challenge solicited small business owners, customers, and friends to submit ineffective websites in need of a total overhaul. Graphic designers armed with Yola's website building tool then submitted new, custom-designed sites tailored to the small businesses needs. Today, Yola announced the winning design, Ed Butchas' redesign of Ace Hardware @ Cedar Park:

According to Anna Johndrow, co-owner of Ace Hardware @ Cedar Park, which was chosen for the redesign, "Today's business environment requires a really strong website. It's not enough to be on the web, you really have to know how to make a website work for you; more than just saying 'I'm here' you want to be able to say 'this is what I can do for you.' That is what can set us apart from competition and give a customer a valid reason to choose us over others. My current site just wasn't meeting the challenge and I knew there was so much more we could expect from the medium, I just didn't know how to go for it. I'm thrilled with our new site from the Yola Makeover challenge and my husband and I just can't wait to see how it helps our business."

Winning designer Ed Butchas welcomed the opportunity to help Johndrow meet the challenge. "I think that this contest was a wonderful way to modernize the website of one of our American hometown Ace Hardware stores. In doing so, I wanted to bring a personal touch by branding the new site to showcase the owners a little more with a completely redesigned logo and banners and turn over a site which could be edited and updated with little to no knowledge of site building or HTML," said Butchas. "Two weeks was a short while to create a site but I must say that using Yola to build it in my browser made the task that much more enjoyable and easy."

Social Media Links:

--  Yola's Blog:
--  Yola's Twitter Feed:
--  Vinny Lingham's Blog:

About Yola, Inc.

Yola is at the forefront of the Web 2.0 movement, offering a free website creation tool that empowers small businesses, non-profits and everyday users to easily create professional quality websites. Yola's intuitive drag and drop technology enables users to easily incorporate a variety of widgets including YouTube videos, Google Gadgets, PayPal Widgets and many more without needing to leave Yola or see any html code. Privately-held Yola, backed by Reinet Fund, is the recipient of numerous industry accolades including The Industry Standard 100, a Fast Company Fast 50 Reader Favorite and BusinessWeek's 50 Best Tech Startups. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. For additional information, please visit or call 415-227-0250.

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