Ensuring that potential customers have a great experience when visiting your website for the first time is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Your website needs to be easy on the eyes, it’s as simple as that. You could have a great product, service or value proposition. But there are many other elements besides how your website looks that go into making it customer friendly not to mention something that inspires them to actually do business with you.
From contact information to customer testimonials, here are the essentials that every small business website should have for it to effectively help you do business.
1. Mobile friendly layout New research indicates that around half of all web traffic now comes from mobile phones, and 85% of adults think that the mobile version of a website should be as good as, if not better, than the desktop version. If your website isn’t mobile friendly by now, you are essentially cutting off half of your potential customers. Seems like a poor business decision to me.
2. A clear description about what you offer
Someone who stumbles upon your website shouldn't have to do investigative work to figure out what, exactly, it is that you do. That means clearly stating your business, solution, summing up your products or services right on the homepage. A clear description will attract the visitor's attention immediately within 2-3 seconds, and encourage them to stay on your website longer.
3. Fresh, Great content
For many businesses, your website is your first impression on a customer. You want to give them what they're looking for, and perhaps even give them a reason to keep coming back.
Providing visitors with great content has become more and more important, exponentially so over the last decade. It used to be the case that you could build a great company, invest some money into marketing, and the rest would just sort itself out. With the sheer amount of competition found in the digital space these days, this has become very hard to pull off.
Running a company blog is more important than ever. A blog could be the cornerstone of your company’s content marketing strategy, and high quality content will be driving visitors to your website for many years to come through search traffic. It allows you to reinforce your branding as well as establishing your company’s expertise to readers, and could therefore be important in convincing potential customers.
4. Social media
Like a blog, a strong social media presence will contribute to your branding, allow you to showcase your work, and it also opens up a direct communications channel with your customers. Not only should you be on social media by now, but you also need to provide links to your social media accounts on your website. Like we do, just below the end of this blog post.
5. A simple, sensible Web address
Don't make things complicated. Your domain name is like your brand. It should be easy for a user to type it into a Web browser or an e-mail address.
It is always recommend the .com domain as users are conditioned to type that extension when they enter a Web address. For non-profits or organizations, it is usually recommend using a .org domain for branding purposes, but also recommend having a .com version of the domain in case a user accidentally types the .com address.
Also it is suggested to avoid dashes (which can cause SEO headaches) and numbers (which can cause confusion for customers).
6. An easily-navigated site map
Your website needs to be intuitive and easy to navigate for a first-time visitor. A visitors’ attention span is short, and if a customer struggles to find any specific page on your website, you are likely to lose their attention all together. They might end up taking their business elsewhere.
Clear links to the most important pages, and a site map, are crucial for guiding visitors to the information they're looking for. Be sure your navigation is clearly laid out. It is always recommend using dropdowns in the navigation menu so the visitor can see the content under every heading from virtually any page. You want to make it very easy for your visitors to find what they are looking for, or what you want them to know.
7. Easy-to-find contact information
You should make sure that you give customers basic, practical information like directions, opening hours, phone number and email address. It should be readily available and extremely easy to find. For example, this information could be in the footer of every page. Having dedicated pages in your menu, inventory or list of services could also be very important, as this is information a new visitor will be likely to seek.
You wouldn't want to lose a customer to a competitor just because you made it difficult for them to get in touch with you. Not every online visitor has the patience to click through every page on your website to find the contact information.
The best place for the contact information is the top left or top right corner of the home page. It is also a good practice to include contact information in every page of the website in the footer or side bar or even in top right corner, which helps the visitors to find it more easily.
You should also be sure to include several ways for them to contact you -- phone, e-mail, and a standard contact form, are all good options.
8. Social proofs and Customer testimonials
Potential customers are always trying to figure out if a business they haven’t heard of before is trustworthy. For this reason it could be wise to make a page in which you help your visitors come to the conclusion that you are legitimate, and legitimately great.
Honest words from others help make your products or services more tangible to customers who are visiting you online.
They help your potential customers to build trust in you, especially if you are new. People love to hear stories from real people. They help people find out other things you haven't said on your website.
9. An obvious call to action
Calls to actions, or CTAs, can come in many forms. The simplest ones could be similar to the one displayed at the end of this article, and simply be an image that links you to a different web page or social media site.
Tell the online visitors literally what you want them to do with clear tones of commend. For instance, you may want them to call you now for free quote, or sign up to your exclusively online coupons, or add products to the online shopping cart,
And, call attention to your suggestion by using special buttons or highlighting the text.
10. Know the basics of SEO
Your website won't do you as much good if no one can stumble upon it. Become familiar with the SEO basics to make it more accessible by search engine. To make SEO types to rank well on the search engines, simply make sure your website is coded correctly. That means using the correct keywords throughout your text, putting in plenty of links, naming your page titles and URLs correctly, and employing the magic of images and videos.
11. A secure hosting platform
Having your online information hijacked is a nightmare, and, should it happen to your business, it could cost your customers.
It is imperative that you have a secure, trustworthy hosting company to keep the bad guys out and your content up and running, It is also very important to keep your content management system updated in order to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
12. A design and style that's friendly to online readers
Online visitors often scan through a Web page to sample the content first when they open a new Web page. If they feel like they are on the right page, they will slow down to read the full story. To enhance user's experience on your small business website, you need to organize the content for scanning.
He recommends three style points for online writing to keep in mind:
Break things down into short paragraphs, with headers if necessary
Use bullet points
Highlight important words or phrases.
In the end, simplicity and basic colors are the best bet. Again, the content is the focus, not dancing clowns at the top of the page.