The 11 Important Components of a Small Business Website
Thanks to the advent of the Internet, connecting with prospective customers represents a different type of proposition than it once did. Even small businesses and start-ups need to have a website that handles a number of critical functions, including acting as a marketing tool, point of sale, means of contact and source of information. While operating a website allows a business owner to handle this type of work at a lower cost than any other medium, it also places more pressure on businesses to see that a website addresses all of these problems efficiently and effectively.
With the need to deal with so many jobs through a web presence, it can be hard to know what to expect when you’re building a website. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to make sure that every element is handled well. If you’re trying to refresh an existing website, you want to know that it’s up to speed with current best practices in the industry. Here are several things to keep in mind as you move forward with your project.
A Clear Message
It’s important that you establish precisely what it is you wish to convey to every person who visits your website. This means that your website needs to be designed with a target customer in mind, and the content and media on your website should be tailored to serve the needs of this typical customer. The message you convey to your ideal customer needs to be consistent across every part of your website.
A website is increasingly likely to be the source of the first impression that potential customers have of a business, and it’s important that the site does a good job of representing your operation. You’ll want your site to look sharp and be designed by a competent professional. A web design firm can also guide you through the process of determining what functionality your site requires in order to satisfy visitors’ needs.
Call to Action
Whatever the purpose of your website is, you want visitors to your site to be able to take the next step. If it is a shopping website, then you want the visitor to be able to readily find the products that you sell and add them to a cart. If you’re marketing a service that requires the customer to get in touch with you, then you want the customer to easily find a detailed contact form that guides them, by the use of detailed boxes, through making an initial request for information. Whenever a potential customer arrives at your site, you want your site to call that customer to take a specific action.
How and Where to Buy
Depending on the nature of the services and products that your business sells, the customer may have to find a retail location or office in order to follow through on the call to action. This means that you need a page that provides the following information:
- Maps with locations of stores or offices
- A list of areas served by your business
- How to make an appoint, including appropriate links to emails and contact pages
The “Contact Us” page has to be readily visible in a site’s navigation structure, and basic information, such as a primary phone number, is typically included in either the footer or the sidebar of every page on a site. The contact page should include links to every relevant person at your business, so customers, vendors and other interested parties can quickly track down the information they need in order to get in touch with the right person. Visitors who can’t track down a contact are much less likely to convert into paying customers, so be sure that your contact page includes information that is thorough and up-to-date.
Further information about your business should be included by way of additional pages on your site. This should include pages that:
- List products and services
- Explain the story of your business
- Display awards, certifications and other information that customers want to know about
Customers remember a business better when they have an image to connect with it. The images on your website should present your staff members as friendly and ready to help. Customers also benefit from seeing pictures of the business locations. You should also include product photos on any pages that mention something your business sells. Set aside some money and have a professional take the pictures in order to be sure that you’re presenting the best images possible.
Operating a blog allows you to present your business as an authority. By writing articles regarding current trends in your industry, you let visitors know that you understand your field and are respected. A blog also allows you to improve your marketing efforts through search engine optimisation, more commonly called SEO. A site with good SEO present a lot of valuable content and does so in a manner that attracts the attention of the major search engines, such as Google. The increased visibility of your blog in search results will help direct customers to your site. For example, if a person is asking questions about legal issues, they might see a blog post from a local attorney regarding their questions and follow through by contacting that firm.
Social media platforms allow you to extend your marketing efforts. Most businesses should at least have a Facebook business page configured, and many will also want to have a presence on Twitter. A web marketing firm can help you determine where else you may wish to assert a social media presence. For example, a photography studio may want to add a presence on sites like Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest in order to connect with customers. Where ever you hand your social hat, it needs to be integrated into your website.
Reviews and Testimonials
People love to know what other customers have to say about a business, and your website is a great way to let them hear more. Every business site should include a section that provides reviews and testimonials. Web visitors will read the opinions of previous customers, and this can help them move from considering your business as an option toward becoming customers themselves.
With each passing year, Internet users are increasingly turning to their phones when they need information. This means that it is essential that your website is designed to look good not only on computers and laptops, but on smaller devices. The major search engines now penalize sites that aren’t properly formatted for mobile users, so it’s a good idea to sit down with a professional and discuss modernising your site through the use of what is known as responsive web design.
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