The days when a small business owner could get away with a less-than-dynamic website and rely only on a strong brick-and-mortar presence are in the past. With so much of the business, landscape has shifted to the Internet, an eye-catching, informative and responsive website has become an absolute necessity. Without one, a small business will struggle with an indistinct profile when it should be distinguishing itself from the competition.
If your small business needs a website, or you want to revamp the one you have, bear in mind it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. A well-designed site that loads quickly is visually appealing and easy to navigate will be popular among customers and an important asset for you.
Keep it simple
If you’re new to the process, it can be easy to overdo it with a website. It’s natural to want to “wow” potential customers with bells and whistles and cutting edge technology. But that could earn you a hefty price tag when you could get what you need with a smaller, more compact site that emphasizes convenience and simplicity. Concentrate on building a site that’s mobile-optimized and that makes it easy for visitors to find what they need, whether that means new product or service offerings, discounts, or basic contact information.
Remember, you can impress by doing more with less!
A strong, clear voice
An effective business website should feature a call to action in strong, clear language. Motivate customers by ensuring they understand how your business will benefit them (i.e. better pricing, superior selection, etc.). Some of the most effective calls to action feature incentives, like free consultations for new customers, discounts for first-time purchases and online coupons for volume purchasing.
Customers will be more likely to come back for more if they have a positive experience the first time around. In any event, a call to action must be highly visible (positioned front and center when your page loads or highlighted in the menu bar) and connect customers with product and pricing information so it’s instantly actionable.
A strong visual identifier
One of the best ways to distinguish your business from the competition is to create a distinctive logo, one that’s clearly and instantly identifiable with what you do. It can be difficult to create and establish a logo that’s at once descriptive and distinguished, so consider using a free, online logo generator if you’re unfamiliar with the process and need help that’s intuitive and easy to follow. Once you’ve defined a logo, make liberal use of it online, on business cards and in printed material.
Few things dissuade website visitors quite as much as walls of text. Instead, use visuals as “anchors” that draw your visitors in, and use content to support and amplify what they’re seeing. Let the visuals (photos and video) tell your story as much as possible.
Understand your clientele
Understanding your customer base gives you the direction you need to put together a website that’s on point and compelling. If you’re revising a site, seek customer insight. Ask what they expect to get out of a visit to your site. What information do they want? Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. What information would be most valuable to you? Always make sure your site includes a forum for customers to provide input and criticism. Sometimes the best way to learn and improve is by finding out what you’re doing wrong.
The right e-commerce platform
If you’re just getting started, think in terms of your goals and where you want your company to go before selecting a platform that’s designed for small websites. Such platforms can work well if your intention is to remain small, but if your aims are somewhat more ambitious, plan accordingly by selecting a platform that’s more conducive to your business plan.
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Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to websites. Customers seeking specific information can end up more frustrated than impressed with a site that’s too busy, too difficult to navigate and wastes their time. You could unwittingly end up driving prospective customers to the competition if they can’t find what they’re looking for easily.