Your website is often the first point of contact between you and a potential customer, it’s your 21st century shop window. As with any shop window, when someone lands on your website they’re looking for clues to see if your business can meet their needs. Don’t let your website fall short with this quick guide to the essentials your small-business website needs.
You know your business inside and out but your customers don’t, and they don’t want to spend ages trying to figure it out. Make sure your homepage has a clear description of your business either above the fold or just below it.
People are impatient when they are looking for information or services online and want clear answers quickly (a reason why website bounce rate is a major Google ranking factor). So make it clear to your visitors that they’ve come to the right place. simple navigation combined with a clear and stylish layout can go a long way in creating a positive impression of your business.
Everyone loves a cluttered website filled with annoying pop ups, adverts which cover interesting content and information that’s laid out in an illogical fashion right? Okay perhaps that was unnecessarily sarcastic but it really is important to make sure your content is as easy to read and understand as possible. It’s one of the most basic elements of providing an enjoyable user experience.
This one is another no-brainer. The easier it is for visitors to navigate around your small business website, the easier it is for them to find what they’re looking for. A good user-experience is key to converting visitors into customers.
Remember, many people first learn about your company via your website. So initially your website is the only impression they have of your business as a whole, which means it’s easy to draw a connection between the quality of your website experience and the quality of experience they expect to receive from you in person.
This is an extension of your layout and another key element that Google prioritises when it comes to ranking your website in search results. More people access the internet on mobile devices than on desktop computers, so don’t prioritise desktop design, prioritise mobile design.
But don’t neglect desktop users altogether. Ultimately a truly responsive website will work well across a range of devices and allow anyone who visits your small business website to have a great user experience.
Don’t make it a challenge for people to get in touch with you. Ultimately the goal of a lot of small business websites is to generate enquiries. So make it easy for people to get in touch and give them a number of different ways of doing so.
For example, on this page you can get to our contact information either by clicking on the phone symbol or menu 'hamburger' in the top right (both of which are always visible), clicking on the start your project pop up button to the right of this text, or by scrolling to the bottom of the page. That’s four different ways you can get in touch with us, two of which are always visible.
You might wonder why this one isn’t the first item on this list but I think it’s important to make sure your website can walk before it can run. A good call to action will be wasted if your user experience before this point is poor. So get all the above points right before you worry about this.
A call to action is an instruction to the audience designed to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as ‘call now’, ‘find out more’ or ‘visit a store today’.
A call to action makes it clear to potential customers which action to take next and helps remove friction in moving the user down the sales funnel. By reducing ‘friction’ you’re increasing the chances you’ll convert website visitors into actual customers.
This is the icing on the cake. Getting the basic points above taken care of first is most important, but once they’re sorted it’s time to look at demonstrating to your potential customers that your business is trustworthy and has a proven track record.
The smaller your business, the less likely you can rely on word of mouth to promote it, so it’s important you make it clear to visitors that your business provides obvious benefits to your customers. Testimonials and case studies are a great way of doing this and reassure potential customers that they've come to the right place.