Whether you are building a small business website from the ground up or feel it’s time to update yours, here some of the essentials, wishlist ideas, and things to avoid.
The number one thing your business website needs is a plan. Before you talk to a web developer or pick out a design template, you need to sit down and create a detailed plan. What is the purpose of your site?
Determining if you need an ecommerce website, a portfolio, an online menu and business hours, or something else entirely will help you figure out exactly what you need and don’t need. Each business will have different needs for a website, but here are the essentials everyone should have and the things most don’t need to include.
Small Business Website Essentials
You need a clean design. Carry your business’ branding guideline of colors, fonts, and voice through to your website as well. Keep it consistent and easy for customers to navigate. Use hamburger menus to minimize the number of navigation tabs, keep the amount of pages down, and make sure your text is simple and readable.
A good domain name is almost as important as a good business name. If your domain name is long, doesn’t match your business name, or doesn’t end with “.com” then customers are likely to forget your website and not be able to find your business.
SEO is hard to master but important to incorporate into your website. Consider hiring a freelancer to set up your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This includes page formatting, alt text for photos, meta tags and metadata, descriptive URLs, site index, and even more. It it likely that most of your online traffic will come from search engines, so it is important to make it as easy as possible for your small business to appear on the top of searches.
Implementing security measures is vital for any business website. Make sure your site is compliant with the GDPR and HTTPS certificates.
Having reviews both on your website and on popular review sites will establish trust with potential customers. More than 80% of people look for reviews before making a purchase decision. That’s a lot. Maintaining a positive digital reputation will help your business succeed.
Your business information should be prominent and easy to find. Include contact information, business location, hours of operation and customer support, holiday schedule, and anything else a customer needs to know about your small business.
About Us is a page where you can tell your story. Customers want to know that there are real people behind the company, and connecting on a more personal level can build trust and brand loyalty. Briefly describe how and why you started the business, who you and your employees are, what your brand mission and vision is, and what makes your business unique.
Wants But Not Needs
Consider hiring a web developer to create a beautiful, clean website for you. You can find a freelancer for this one project and keep their contact info on file for when you need to make changes later. Having a professional website is just as important as a brick-and-mortar storefront – it adds credibility to your business, and it attracts customers and sales.
Make your website mobile friendly. More and more people are shopping and browsing the internet on their mobile phones. If your web host doesn’t already offer dynamic layouts that automatically adjust to a mobile orientation, hire a freelancer to build one. When you make updates to your site, always make sure it looks good on mobile.
Offer an incentive for signing up for a newsletter. If they give they sign up with their email on your site, you could send them an exclusive coupon for your restaurant, an ebook teaser for your consulting service, or something else that would entice potential customers. Now you have customers to email with company updates, promotions, news, or new releases.
Invest in professional, paid hosting. If your website gets a lot of traffic, is the main portal for your business, or is media heavy (images and videos take a while to load) you should invest in a paid web host. Free sites like WordPress or Wix may be fine for a while, but if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you will lose most visitors.
Collect the most asked questions you get from your customers and create an FAQ. If a potential customer can’t find what they want quickly, they might move on. Not only will this minimize customer service inquiries and free up your associate’s time, but employees can also keep themselves knowledgeable about the business.
Things You Should Really Avoid
Avoid using multiple fonts, colors, and graphics that aren’t cohesive and make your website look busy. Customers who look at your business website don’t want to strain their eyes to read your site. Keep it clean, simple, and cohesive. A general rule of design is to stick to two fonts and font colors throughout your site.
Minimize the amount of text and photos on your informational pages. Try to keep the page length to two page scrolls – or less than a 3 minute read. As an entrepreneur, you are rightfully proud of your business’ story and the products you’ve developed, but you don’t want to overwhelm prospects with too much content. If you want to go into detail, a great way to share with your customers without turning off potential customers is to start a blog on your site.
Be careful with copyrighted material. Make sure you are legally allowed to use any content you add to your website (icons, photos, logos, etc.) If you need free stock photos, take a look at this list of free website tools.
Resist the urge to place ads on your website. While you could make a few extra dollars by having ads on your page, you really don’t want to let your customers go to a competitor. The companies who pay for this advertising space are targeting the same demographic you are.
Don’t forget to update your site periodically. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean it should collect dust. Keeping information up-to-date, including menus and store hours, is important. Consider freshening the look for holidays or seasons. Change typos and broken code as soon as you find them.
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