Whether you’re setting up a new website for your business, or upgrading an existing one, there are certain essentials that a small website business should include for it to be effective and help your business grow.
Let’s face it the internet is full of websites that are anything but customer-friendly.
You have seconds to convince your visitors that they’ve come to the right place, inspiring them to do business with you.
From choosing a URL to Call To Actions – here are our Top 10 things, in no particular order, that every small business website needs:
An Intuitive URL
Keep your web address straightforward. Don’t go down the gimmicky route. Professional and simple is the way to go.
Users need to find it easy to type in your web address and send you an email.
We always recommend you go with your company name and if you’re based in the UK a “.co.uk” address, although we’d also advise to purchase the “.com” address, as quite often this can be typed in by accident.
We are often asked if clients should buy a “.co.uk” address if the “.com” address is already taken by anther business and vice versa? We would advise “no” just to avoid confusion as visitors may land on a site that either a) isn’t live, or b) belongs to your competitor!
Our top tip is to ensure that YOU register your own domain name. It can prove very problematic trying to track down designers who have bought a name on behalf of a client, and then are reluctant to transfer it to the new design company, or, even worse – gone out of business.
Who Are You?
What Do You Do?
First impressions count!
Whether somebody lands on your site by accident or by design, ensure they immediately see who you are, and what your business does.
So before the “fold” (without having to scroll down the page) state your company name, what your business does, and a call to action.
A great strapline popping up within a few seconds of landing on a website lets people know they’re in the right place and entices them to read more
Clear Contact Information
Once a visitor has found your website, don’t make it difficult for them to contact you.
We recommend contact details in the footer of every page, with phone and email contact in the top right hand corner of each page, with a link through to a contact form.
Remember depending on your business type, visitors may be on your site out of office hours. So phone, email and a contact form are essential, and online chat is becoming more popular, BUT, only if you are able to respond immediately.
If you’ve got a store front or office location where visitors are welcome, why not also include a Google Map?
Meet The Team
A great way to differentiate yourself from competitors is to introduce the team behind the business.
A photograph and a couple of sentences is all that is required.
Many businesses only include the business owners/directors – but we recommend including those members of staff who are customer facing.
There is something reassuring about being able to see or recognise somebody you’ve been dealing with online.
If you have a story or a "Why" you set up your business, share it with your readers. Remember stories sell.
Visitors should be able to find their way around your site and find what they want with little or no difficulty.
Try to keep the menu and the structure clear and intuitive. If referring to other pages on your site in text, ensure you include a hyper-link to the relevant page.
Not only easy for the visitor, but good for SEO.
Implement Basic SEO
It doesn’t matter how beautiful or how easy to navigate your site is, if nobody can find you.
You can do basic SEO yourself.
Using keywords, putting in links and naming your page titles and URLs, along with ensuring your videos and images are named correctly is key.
Many of the web platforms include an SEO element as standard.
We highly recommend WiX’s SEO Wizard, not only does it ensure that all your urls, page titles and descriptions are correct, it also provides advanced SEO that is normally only used by SEO specialists.
In addition The SEO wizard on WiX tells google to immediately index. Meaning your site can be found on Google straight away. It’s the only platform in the world that has a direct connection to Google.
This SEO element comes free with every plan.
Write For Your Reader
Not For Yourself
This may sound obvious, but we frequently come across websites that are full of jargon – no doubt they are trying to highlight their expertise in a particular area.
However, write for your reader. Make it easy for them to understand, keep it clear and simple.
Break it down into short paragraphs
Use bullet points
Emphasise key words and sentences
The website you are developing is to attract your target audience – put yourself in their shoes and write about what they want to hear in a friendly, clear and concise manner, or their attention will wander.
Hosting & Security
Ensuring your website is hosted on a reliable platform and is secure and safe from hackers is now essential.
Google have now started to highlight sites that aren’t secure (See below). You can recognise secure sites as their URL address begins with “https” and there is a padlock beside the name.
Whilst many businesses think a SSL certificate is not required as they don’t sell or take payments on line, we would argue that if you are collecting any kind of data i.e. a contact form – then you run the risk of being hacked.
In addition – do you really want your site to be flagged up as insecure by Google?
We recommend the WiX platform as all their plans come with a SSL certificate and secure hosting.
Whether you’re selling products or services, what other people have to say about you adds credibility and helps to build trust in your business.
Adding customer testimonials gives people an insight into what level of service/product they can expect from you.
We advise to put the good, the bad and ugly up there (as long as the good far outweighs the bad😊).
Remember nobody’s perfect and it’s how you deal with the situation when it goes wrong that is important.
Content, Content, Content
Finally, there is nothing more disappointing than visiting a website that’s out of date.
From your copyright date in your footer, to adding articles and blogs – if they’re years out of date it adds up to a poor experience for your website visitor.
People love to read stories, so whenever something significant, interesting or just downright unusual happens – blog about it and share it online.
Google loves fresh content, it’s great for SEO. It also gives you content to share on Social Media, in a Newsletter or in an email – so well worth the effort and committing some time to.
And don’t forget to connect your Social Media feeds to your website.
We hope you’ve found this blog helpful – there is certainly lots to think about when going “on-line”.
The one element we haven't mentioned - and which arguably is the most important aspect of getting your business online, is choosing the right web design/development company to work with.
All reputable web design businesses should be happy to meet to discuss your requirements, but also you need to ensure you have and can build a "Rapport" (see what I did there 😊) with the company/individual you are working with.
You need to feel confident they understand your business, your values and can meet your expectations. Don't be afraid to ask to see their portfolio, or client testimonials. Ask what is included, for instance will they include copy writing and imagery?
Make sure you are talking to the person actually designing/building your website and not just a salesman. Don't get taken in by snazzy Facebook and Google adverts, that offer websites that will enable you to take over the world for just a couple of hundred pounds. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
If there is anything we can help you with, we’re happy to chat and offer free, honest, straightforward advice on the way forward.