A website has become a must-have for any small business. However, there are a lot of bad websites on the internet, indicating that many business owners still haven’t quite grasped the basics of web design and development.
If you are just getting started with your site, keep these six points in mind to ensure it gets off on the right foot.
1. Easily Located Contact Information
Even if you have plenty of information on your website, customers are going to want to contact you. Giving them a way to get in touch in addition to email or a contact form not only helps them get answers more quickly, but it helps establish the legitimacy of your business.
Think about it: Do you want to do business with a company that doesn’t appear to have a street address or phone number? Make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you by including a phone number, skype handle or email on every page of your site in addition to your “About” or “Contact” pages. Some people will still use contact forms, but providing another option like a phone number will increase leads and sales.
For a new or small-business owner, SEO might sound like a fancy corporate marketing term, not something that they need to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even small businesses need to be concerned with SEO, or search engine optimization. You want your site to appear in search results when customers search for your business name, but also when they are searching for the products and services that you offer.
This doesn’t require some secret ninja skill or devious techniques, either. In fact, the latter can actually hurt your search ranking. You simply need to know the keywords your desired customers search for, and use them throughout your site. Include photos and videos to your advantage, name your pages correctly, and use static instead of dynamically generated URL’s
As you learn more about SEO, you can use more sophisticated methods, but when you are just getting started, the basics will ensure your business shows up when your customers look for your products or services.
3. A Call to Action
When customers visit your website, what do you want them to do? Are you selling something? Trying to generate leads? Trying to entice them to visit your physical location? Whatever it is you hope to accomplish with your site, you need to make it clear to customers by actually asking them to do something.
Make it obvious what you want people to do: Place items in a cart, sign up for a newsletter, request a quote, etc., by using specific language and drawing attention to the call with a unique design element, such as a different font or color.
4. Easy-to-Remember URL
Your business’s URL, or domain name, is the address customers will type to get to your site. It’s going to become part of your company’s branding, so make it a good one. That means using a URL that is easy to remember and tells customers who you are and what you do.
Even if your preferred domain is already taken, you can make small tweaks like adding a city or state to the address to use your preferred name. If possible, use a .com rather than a .net or .biz, which most customers still forget to use.
It’s one thing for you to tell the world about how wonderful you are and how you can make your customers’ lives better. It’s something entirely different when someone else sings your praises. Show your customers that you can deliver by adding real testimonials to your website. If you’re just starting out and don’t have any yet testimonials, that’s okay.
Don’t be afraid to ask customers for a testimonial, as many will be willing to give you a good review for your site. You can also provide visual proof of what you can do by including photos of your work, examples of jobs you have completed, and samples of what you’re capable of. For many customers, your website is their first impression of your business, so make it a good one.
6. Intuitive Navigation
While you want to be creative and eye-catching with your website design, you also want visitors to be able to navigate easily and find what they are looking for. Therefore, you need to follow typical web design conventions (such as adding search bars and dropdown navigation menus to the top of the page) so that you site feels familiar and is easy to use.
Remember that web users have short attention spans, so make it easy to find important information. Most users will scan a page when they first land on it to see if it contains what they are looking for, and then read more closely if they find what they need. Use bullet points, headers, quotes to give visitors the information they need quickly.
Designing a small-business website isn’t necessarily difficult, but there are a lot of details to consider. By focusing on the basics, you’ll see results — and then you can work on making your site more advanced.