What Are The Essential Components For A Successful Small Business Website
Having a professionally designed, high-class website is one of the most crucial factors for any new business in today’s market; it ensures an ongoing flow of new clients and paves the way for concrete conversions and increased sales. When you consider that your website is often the front line of your small business – the first thing that many of your customers will see, and the first experience they will have with your brand – it stands to reason that it’s extremely important to give its design and development the attention it deserves!
If your business is going to rise up against your rivals, the benefits of being on top of the latest website design trends will prove crucial to your success, as they will significantly improve the way in which your website traffic converts into physical clients and eventually, profits! If you’d like to build a new website for your small business, or if you just need to make a few changes to your existing website, remember the aspects listed below, which are key to achieving your business goals.
CHOOSE A HIGH-QUALITY DOMAIN NAME
When it comes to picking a domain name for your business, and of course, registering it, it is important not to rush the process. Your domain name is an important marketing and search tool for your business; if you take the time and go through the process effectively, your future clients will remember your website address with ease, and they will continuously find their way back to you without hassle. Careful deliberations should be given to consider and investigate all of your options, and at no time should you rush or underestimate the significance of the decision.
The most important thing is to keep your domain name simple, and don’t unnecessarily overcomplicate things. You’ll want your prospective clients to easily recall your domain name and brand as they browse the web for your business, or even going forward when they want to recommend it to their network of family and friends. Our advice is to have a short domain name, without including digits or hyphens, except if your business name already contains these. Ideally, you’d like to keep it clear for your clients, because long and complex domain names containing special characters can not only be confusing but, even more so, negatively impact your website’s Search Engine Optimisation.
SECURE AND SCALABLE WEBSITE HOSTING
Imagine your web host as a property-owner renting you physical store space in a shopping mall. This metaphor is actually not too far from what a web host actually does; essentially, they provide and maintain the server space in which your website files and software are housed. And, this essential storage space allows you to bring your website to life, so visitors from all over the world can come past at their leisure, take a look at your products and services, and eventually make a purchase from you.
In the same way that a trustworthy landlord would ensure you receive prompt assistance and the continued upkeep of the property – not forgetting decent customer service – so a dependable web host serves you too. In addition, a good hosting provider will provide a variety of options suitable for websites and online businesses of all shapes and sizes. It is important that as your business grows, your hosting provider is able to offer you the ability to scale and upgrade your plan, according to your increased requirements, and without making any changes to your website.
A WELL-ORGANISED NAVIGATION MENU
If you’ve ever tried to navigate through a new city without a map, you’ll know it’s not easy! It is important to also keep this in mind when you design your new business website, as your prospective clients could encounter the same difficulties, if your website is tricky and complicated to explore. Your website visitors need to be able to promptly and quickly find what they’re looking for, so it’s of the utmost importance that your website navigation is simple, user-friendly and stress free.
Standard website users will benefit from this, but Search Engine Optimisation is also heightened here. With a well-organised navigation menu, Search Engines like Google will be able to better source the main content on your website, and determine its importance in a more efficient manner. It would be an absolute tragedy if you were to invest a large amount of time and money into your website, but search engines were ultimately still unable to source the information. Of course, this would mean that all of your efforts go to waste when your content doesn’t show up in the target search results, totally lost forever, never to be found by your prospective customers!
Simply put, if your website doesn’t have a well-organised navigation menu from the start, it won’t ever succeed. Never forget how crucial this design factor is, no matter what!
AN ENGAGING AND ATTRACTIVE DESIGN
We all know how first impressions count, and this is especially pertinent for a first time guest arriving on your brand new website. They won’t stay for long if they aren’t attracted by what they see, and additionally, when they leave, this problem snowballs further to negatively influence your website’s “bounce rate” with search engines such as Google. With an impressive design you’ll entice prospective clients to your website, establish confidence in your brand and this will help you to get the engagement you need from individuals looking to purchase from you.
An engaging and attractive website design needs to incorporate the following factors:
AN INDUSTRY-APPROPRIATE DESIGN
Design your small business website according to your target audience and the impression you’d like to make on them. Think of a local hardware store’s website, and how that might compare to the look and feel of a website designed for a gourmet restaurant, or a nationwide insurance company. It’s imperative to acknowledge your clients’ requirements and develop a website which engages their expectations and makes them feel comfortable in the knowledge that they are in the right place.
MOBILE-FRIENDLY RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Mobile devices are being used today more than they ever have before, due to constantly changing and evolving technology, as well as faster internet connections which allow customers to connect to businesses all over the world, twenty-four hours a day. It is essential to make sure your website is also mobile-friendly, to showcase your professionalism, provide your products and services to users of all devices, and to stay in line with your competitors, who by now, most likely all have an online presence built with mobile responsiveness. Mobile responsive websites flawlessly display their information on screens of all sizes, and today, it’s just not good enough to have a website without this functionality!
UX OPTIMISATION (USER EXPERIENCE)
Commonly known as “UX”, user experience optimisation is the golden ticket to a small business’ website design success. It is important that you never become fixated only on the colours, graphics and visual design elements of your website, no matter how essential they might be. Before you get to the user interface design of the website, a user-friendly layout is essential, as well as intuitive site structures and a distinct information pathway. At the end of the day, your website will only reach its maximum potential if you provide users with an enjoyable experience, enable them to source what they need efficiently, and succeed at drawing an income from the process.
Your website visitors need to be told specifically what you would like them to do, at all times, and this is how you translate their online visits into concrete leads or profits. Ensure your website clearly outlines the desired action you require from the user; this might include giving the option to download an eBook or subscribe to an email list, allowing them to view a catalogue of online products or services, luring them to make an online enquiry, or enticing them to make a direct purchase through your website. Design your call-to-actions with the sole objective of directing your users through a specific process, which eventually leads them to complete the desired task.
EASILY ACCESSIBLE CONTACT DETAILS
For service providing businesses – as a pose to e-commerce stores which allow direct online purchases – the main purpose of your website is to provide your clients with a method of finding your business and making contact to arrange the services you provide. Without including clear contact details on your website, in an easy-to-find location, it will be quite the challenge for your clients to get hold of you. This might result in losing either the client, or the sale – or possibly even both!
In addition to having an easy-to-find and well structured “Contact Us” page, we also suggest that in some cases, it might be beneficial for your business to actually include your contact details on every page of the website, and not just in one single location. You can include this at the top of each page in the navigational menu, or at the bottom of each page in the footer section of the website. The typical details of email address, telephone number and physical address – if applicable – should all be provided to make your business as accessible as possible.
Ideally and furthermore, adding social media links to your website gives the customer even more access to your company, which in turn adds to your credibility and creates an increased trust between them and your brand.
A FRIENDLY AND DESCRIPTIVE “ABOUT US” PAGE
The “About Us” page of your website is one of the most important pages that you can build. It needs to be original, and creative enough to encourage and command the attention of your desired audience, informing them immediately about every aspect of your company, from the products and services you offer, right through to your passions and what gets you out of bed in the morning. This is so they can clearly see what you’re all about from their very first visit to the website. Unfortunately though, this page is often the most ignored on a company’s website, and we consider this to be a VERY BIG MISTAKE!!!
In today’s day and age, it’s just not enough to limit this page to some basic background information on the business and a short biography about the founders. You should aim to use this page for building confidence in your company and brand, as well as inspire a dependence on you. Ensure your customers experience a connection with you as a small business, because that’s what they’re after! You need them to relate with your brand so that they’ll come back and support you, time and time again.
So, just how do you make your “About Us” page more credible? List photos alongside the name and position of your entire company’s leadership team, as well as staff profiles that are visible to prospective clients and allow them to get to know your team. Customers also need to see how completely invested you are in your company, through action photos demonstrating how you assist your clients – or the local community – with their specific needs and requests. It’s important to also include comprehensive testimonials from long-standing satisfied clients, so your potential customers have a clear idea of who you are and what inspires you to do business!
HIGH-QUALITY AND ENGAGING CONTENT
Remember the popular phrase: “Content is King”, which holds so much truth in today’s website design and development practices. Regardless of your website’s reason for existence, you need to provide your guests with high-quality and informative content, in order to justify their visit. Don’t compromise on incorporating appealing videos, excellently written copy, first-rate images, as well as additional forms of multimedia and anything else that would benefit or inform your end user. Some high-quality content examples you could use are as follows:
USEFUL PRODUCT AND SERVICE DESCRIPTIONS
Avoid elaborate language, complex jargon or plain old waffling – clear, concise and charismatic text will keep your audience’s attention, as well as educate them about the products and services you provide. It’s important that the user has all the necessary details they need to come to a verdict, and in an easily understandable format, which they’ll appreciate!
HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGES AND ENGAGING VIDEOS
Visuals are important, and wherever possible, you’ll want to invest in professional photography, videography and graphic design for your website. Whether your photos and videos show off products for sale, or indicate the types of services you provide, you need to understand that visitors respond better to high-quality visual stimuli, and the use of such stimuli will result in a more profitable website.
AN ON-SITE BLOG WITH INFORMATIVE ARTICLES
A website with static content is not usually enough to keep visitors coming back on a regular basis. Unless you are sending out weekly deals in the form of a newsletter, you will need to find another reason for your customers to return. For most small business websites, a blog is the answer. This provides something to inform and entertain your visitors, while positioning your business as an expert in the field. You will also quickly discover that an on-site blog can have the added benefit of improving your Search Engine Optimisation, keeping you fresh and at the top of search engines such as Google!
SOCIAL MEDIA SHARE BUTTONS
With Social Media buttons, users can effortlessly share your website’s content – including blog posts, product photos, press releases and videos – all without having to manually copy the links into their personal social media platforms themselves. Your customers can share your valuable website content among their social networks, allowing your online social media presence to grow without you having to do anything. Adding Social Media share buttons to your website is a simple action that can bring enormous rewards to your business, as your website users become your very own brand ambassadors, marketing your business to their friends and families, totally free of charge!
SOCIAL PAGE CONNECTIONS
Including social proof of your business authority – whether it be via accolades, certifications and case studies, or client videos, feedback, testimonials or trust icons – will inevitably build trust between you and your prospective client, and persuade them to pick your product or service over that of your competition. Much of this social proof can be presented and displayed on your various social media pages, and connections to these pages can be conveniently placed throughout your website, in the header or footer sections, or on the contact page.
A RELIABLE CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)
Having your website built around the platform of a robust and reliable CMS is incredibly advantageous to your business, with so many benefits that you’ll probably wonder why someone would bother to build a website any other way! Apart from storing all your web content in one location, Content Management Systems facilitate easy staff member collaboration across numerous locations and devices, helping you create vibrant themes and web pages as a team. In addition, they also allow you to use additional pre-made website plugins and development tools, which help your site function optimally and securely, all without having to reinvent the wheel and build them yourself from scratch.
The biggest benefit of a user-friendly Content Management System to a small business is, however, that anyone can effortlessly and promptly edit and publish their own website content, using any computer, from anywhere in the world, even if they don’t have a solid – or even any – technical experience. Once you’ve set up your website and it’s ready to go, you can make any additions or changes yourself, and you’ll continuously save on the high costs that you would normally have paid to a web developer to get the job done!
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
Often referred to as SEO, Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of increasing the capacity and value of your website’s traffic through organic online search engine results. In other words, it is getting to the top of the first page when a user searches for something on a search engine such as Google. It goes without saying that it is one of the most important considerations that you should make when creating a new website, and if your website is not optimised correctly, your website isn’t likely to be found.
Basic Search Engine Optimisation techniques will allow search engines to easily find and access your website, and better identify the content which has been made available, eventually determining its overall relevance to potential users, when compared to other websites which also provide similar content. Search engines aim to deliver the most relevant search results to their users, so they use a variety of ranking factors to assess website content and ensure that they are providing the most relevant results. Knowledge of these factors, as well as having the ability to implement them into your website, with proven strategies and long-term goals in mind, is essential to every successful website.
A SECURE SSL CERTIFICATE
A “Secure Socket Layer Certificate” – or SSL Certificate – is the safety procedure enabling encoded correspondence from a web server to an internet browser. All data transferred between the server and user is encoded with the use of a server’s encryption key. Simply put, if you have an SSL Certificate you’re guaranteed that the information passed between the browser and web server can only be seen by the user and website, and nobody else.
Without an SSL Certificate, a safe connection can’t be determined on your website, and the result is that the transmitted information won’t be linked to a cryptographic key. In other words, the information which is being transferred between the user’s computer and your web server – including login details, passwords and credit card numbers – can be hacked, or spied on. Consequently, if you do not provide a high-quality and secure SSL Certificate for your website, your clients may not have complete faith in your company and this might even stop them from buying your products or utilising your online services!
GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND CONVERSION TRACKING
The main goal of your website is to get targeted visitors and customers to your business, so you must also be able to visualise and analyse the behavioural data of these users, to determine how your website is performing and maximise its future potential. Integrating the appropriate tools to the backend of your small business website – such as Google Analytics – will allow you to see all of the user information you require, such as your daily website traffic figures, how long your users are spending on your website, what pages they are viewing, and the paths in which they are being converted into sales.
Monitoring your website performance and optimising it based on the available data can easily put your small business ahead of its competitors, and most certainly increase your conversion rates and sales numbers.
Essential Components To A Successful Small Business Website
Having a professionally designed, high-class website is one of the most crucial factors for any new business in today’s market; it ensures an ongoing flow of new clients and paves the way for concrete conversions and increased sales.
The Design Process - Creating Your New Small Business Website
At GANZ Creative, our goal is to maximise the success of the project and produce a website that is 100% in-line with the expectations and requirements of the client. This can only be achieved through a diligent planning and construction process,
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