I’ve been building websites since 1994 and I’ve seen websites evolve from full on flash animated graphics with matching music to online shopping malls to company websites that look like they were build by a 5-year-old. Over the years though I’ve noticed tried and true principles that have stood the test of time and that are key to having a successful online presence.
Here are my top 5 things your business website needs to be effective:
1. Basic Information your users are looking for on your home page.
This seems like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many businesses don’t include on their home page essential information about their business that people are looking for. When a user lands on your home page they should find at a minimum answers to the following questions:
What action do you want users to take? Having a clear call to action is essential. If you want users to call make that clear, if you want them to fill out a contact form make that clear as well. Give them at least one clear option on how to contact and/or communicate with your company. Make finding information and communicating with your business EASY.
What do you do? Listing your key services and products on the home page helps users identify quickly if you are the company they are looking for.
What do you sell? Whether you are selling your product online or not, showing a sampling of your products on your home page is a smart idea. Guide your customer through the buying process or give them a way they can find out more.
What is your phone number? If this is the action you want your users to take the phone number should be highly visible and larger than other type.
What is your address? Including a map is a must-have these days.
When are you open? Hours of business is a helpful bit of information.
2. An About Us Page.
This is generally the second most clicked page on a website. Customers want to know more about you. Before they call or buy from your website many people want to know more about you. Are you trustworthy? Are you a “real” business with a real address and a real face? Or are you a teenager running a scam business out of his garage. Here today and gone tomorrow. Show a picture of your store or office and the people who work there doing their jobs. This gives your company a face and some real credibility.
However, don’t go nuts. Keep it short and sweet and only supply relevant information.
A couple of other items here that build credibility would be customer testimonials and product warranties or guarantees.
3. Show your Expertise
Another sure-fire way to gain trust and credibility with your audience is to offer free instructions or tips and tricks. You can do this on a Q & A page or in an integrated blog page or on a “Do It Yourself” page. For example a Company that sells and repairs furnaces and air conditioners could offer free tips and tricks on maintaining your air conditioner. Most users will appreciate the advice, see that the company knows what they’re talking about and will most-likely not want to go out and buy the tools necessary and follow every step and will just pick up the phone and call. Be careful not to use too much industry jargon that the average person wouldn’t understand.
4. Optimize your Site for Google
You can have the best website on the block but if it isn’t built in a way that Google can read and index it does you little to no good. Translation: have an SEO expert go through every page of your site and make sure every title tag, image tag and every word is indexed and site-mapped in Google. As the number one search engine on the planet, Google is where over 95% of your audience will search for your business. Many companies only have their home page indexed in Google. You should have every single page of your website indexed in Google. Are you showing up for every single service you offer your customers? For example, if you are a furnace repair company in Salt Lake City, your company should show up in a search for “furnace repair in Salt Lake City”. If not you’re losing business and the money you invested in a professional website is going down the drain.
At Groove Marketers we specialize in killer website designs, website redesigns, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing and a host of other services to help your business find its groove online!
5. Ensure a Fantastic User Experience
Responsive Design: If a user finds your company website on their mobile device and your site is not mobile friendly the chances of them leaving and looking for another company (i.e. your competitor) is over 80%. The best way to ensure a positive user experience is to make sure your website has a responsive design. Websites built responsively will scale to fit any device from mobile to desktop to tablet.
Simplify the Design. Too many websites have crazy graphics, too many colors and fonts and flash. At one point flash was the coolest thing on the planet to put on your website. Now it’s a big no no. Flash content cannot be read and indexed by Google and it doesn’t show up at all on mobile and tablet devices, so it’s best to leave flash out of your website design plans.
Error-Free Content. Have someone outside your company proof read your website content. Bad spelling and grammar, hard-to-follow instructions or half-finished sentences will undo all the credibility you just gained up to that point.
Fresh Content. Does your website look the same month after month? If so you are losing customers and losing ground indexing in Google. People and Google alike value fresh, original and relevant content. Make sure you are updating your information, products and images on a regular basis. If your company is alive and changing and growing steadily, your website should reflect that improvement.
Updated Design. If it’s been more than 2 years since your website has had a redesign or at least a facelift it’s probably time. Websites aren’t like cheese, they don’t get better with time. They aren’t like fashion either. Old website design trends don’t come back into style. Once your website graphics start to look out-dated or don’t load properly on a mobile device it’s time for an update or redesign.