Fortune Small Business Newsletter - July 17, 2003

Editor's Note

Is business slow? Then perhaps it's time you took a hard look at your company's website. Many small businesses invest thousands of dollars in going online but get little out of it because their sites are hard for customers to navigate, says Farrakh Azhar, founder of LiveAdmins LLC in Chicago, Ill. He should know. His company ( provides web businesses with live operators, who converse with visitors to the sites via popup windows. " Customers usually ask us questions that are supposed to be on the website but either are not on the website or are hidden and almost impossible to be found," he notes.

So how do you find out if your site has become an obstacle course for customers? Ask friends, family members, and associates to visit your site and to look for key information: how to order your products, contact your company, select from the shipping options, etc. If they can't find what they seek within seconds, you may need to hire a web consultant to help you create a more customer-friendly design. There's no point in maintaining a website if it isn't driving sales.