Essential Elements for Your Business Website
Building a business website on your own, or even hiring someone else to do it, can be intimidating. This is especially true if it’s your first go around. While the thought of designing a website is daunting, once you learn the ropes it’s much more manageable. This is true whether you intend to build your own website, or want to hire a professional web developer. In fact, there are simple design rules you should pay attention to in order ensure that your small business website is built properly and that it serves your needs and your customer’s needs.
First, let’s talk about how most small business websites are built. A lot of people unfamiliar with web development believe that websites are built from scratch, more or less, and that it’s an immensely technical process that requires coding capabities. But that is simply not the longer the case.
Most small businesses today will select a web hosting company, like iPage, that provides them with pre-designed page templates, or themes, and a drag and drop Website Builder. Once you learn how to use your builder tool you can update the content on your website in a matter of minutes. Changing other elements, such as logos and colors, is also generally easy to do. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can even change the layout of your website by adding custom elements, or selecting a new template without any actual coding.
Hopefully, you no longer fear the idea of creating a website on your own, and now it’s time decide what elements to include in your new website. Let’s go over some of the essential “must-haves.” Even if you don’t develop your website yourself, you should make sure it adheres to the following suggestions.
Your Website Must Be Mobile Responsive
We live in the age of the smartphone. An ever-increasing number of consumers are browsing the Internet using their smartphones and/or tablets. In fact, in 2016 desktop browsing dropped to 48.6% of total market share, while mobile and tablet browsing rose to 51.3%. As a result, mobile-friendly websites are now essential.
Luckily, many themes are built to be “mobile responsive” right out of the box. This means that your website will automatically resize itself to fit on the screen of a computer, tablet or smartphone. Most of the time, the coding is already done, meaning you don’t have to do anything! When you and/or your developer are selecting themes, make sure that they are “responsive.”
If you own a brick-and-mortar small business, a mobile responsive website is especially important. Often times, customers will be out and about, and will use Google Maps or another service to find what they want. Whether that’s lunch, a new pair of shoes, or something else, make sure your site can be found and provides a positive experience on any device.
Create an Inviting “About Us” Page
Web users are inherently skeptical. Sadly, there are a number of scams and empty promises floating around on the web, and we all have to be cautious. That means it’s vital to use your website to build trust with your visitors. And using your “About Us” page is one of the best ways to connect and share your values with customers.
An About Us page is often your first chance to make a good impression. It’s a space for you to outline who your company is, and most importantly who the people behind it are. Whether you’re launching a hot new app, or running a local restaurant, you need to have an About Us page. Be open, be honest, and introduce your team and staff! Got a great head chef? Put up his or her profile up! Introduce your lead web developer. Show some pics from the recent staff picnic. Put some faces behind the sales team. Let the founder outline his or her vision. Putting names and faces behind a business can go a long way towards building trust.
Be warm, be friendly, show smiling faces or nice, professional business pics. Let team members discuss their hobbies and interests if that will be meaningful to your audience. It’s all about connecting with your viewers and building relationships.
Keep Your Contact Page Up-To-Date
At some point, customers will want to get in touch with your business. They might be inquiring about products you’re selling online, checking your brick-and-mortar store’s hours, or something else. Most websites will have a contact page of some sort, but many companies fail to keep them up to date.
Customers send an email, it never gets answered. Or they try to dial up a phone number only to find out that it’s no longer in service. Worse yet, they swing by your store to make a purchase, only to find out that the hours have changed. Not only are you missing out on a potential sale, but you could lose a potential high-value customer for life.
Always make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Phone numbers and emails need to be current, and you need to monitor them. If you have a brick and mortar store, make sure the open hours posted on your website are correct, and directions are easy to find. If the shop is going to be closed for a day or two, your best bet is to post up a notice on your website (as well as your business’s social media page).
Create Compelling Content
This is an open-ended topic and there’s a lot that goes into crafting a website’s content, which is often referred to as “copy”. Major companies will often spend as much time (and even money) developing the content for their website as the actual HTML and code. If you’re running a small business website you might not go to such lengths, but you do need to pay close attention.
First, make sure visitors understand exactly what your business is about, and also the ethos that it was founded on. Your home page should contain a few catchy phrases or mission statements that sum up your business, and how your offerings add value. That might be something like “best gyro in town!”, or “high-quality electronics everyone can afford”, or whatever else. Keep in mind that everything about your site including the tone and choice of language used should match your brand’s identity.
Second, proofread everything you write. Most visitors can overlook a typo or two, but if your copy is riddled with errors, people will start to doubt the legitimacy and quality of your business. (See trust-building above). Third, make sure everything sounds professional, and is written in clean easy-to-understand English (or whatever language your customers speak).
Know Your Audience
All of the above points tie into one simple principle: know your audience. You need a mobile responsive website because your audience may be using a mobile device. You need an “About Us” page to build trust because many visitors will be skeptical and wary. The same with clean copy and up-to-date information. At the end of the day, your website isn’t about you or even your business. It’s about your audience and what you can do for your customers.
Your goal is to meet your customers wants and needs. Your small-business website is one of the most vital and important ways of communicating with your audience. This means conveying compelling, accurate information to your visitors so they can evaluate your business and its products. In turn, this will help you land sales and customers.