How many times have you been handed a brochure or business card and heard the words “Check out our website for more information?” Chances are - a lot. That’s because websites are a powerful weapon in your business’s marketing arsenal.
They can be as detailed or as simple as you like and in theory, there is an endless list of tips I could give you with regards to developing a good website. Of course it is subject to personal preference, influenced by your industry and target market, and specific to the goals you're trying to achieve through your website. But with that said, I have compiled a list of 7 elements that I believe ALL good business websites must include.
1. A Logical Design
Clever website design is all very well, but your customers will soon leave if they are not finding what they want, quickly! And most times when they do navigate away they'll end up on one of your competitor’s sites!
By all means, have impressive design, but never forget that your visitors are there to find information and inevitably your services and/or products. Great websites are usually designed on paper first and a logical layout implemented to avoid any confusion. When was the last time you visited a website that didn’t have a navigation bar at the top of the homepage?
2. Clear Contact Information
Unless you are 100% an online business like say Amazon, you are going to want your customers to be able to contact you. This can be via email (or a contact form), telephone or even in person at your place of business. The bottom line is that you need to provide visitors with any relevant contact information, in an easy to find, clearly visible location. There are 2 benefits. Firstly, they can contact you and that provides the opportunity to convert the enquiry to a sale. Secondly, the transparency helps to builds trust with visitors. People do not like companies who appear secretive, hidden or difficult to get hold of.
3. Original and Engaging Information
Building a customer base online can be a difficult process. One strategy to grow an online following or community is to adopt social media. However adopting social media and succeeding with social media are two very different things. Likewise with websites. There are millions of websites on the internet and a very small percentage of them are highly effective.
Your website must be engaging and give visitors an enjoyable, memorable or somehow rewarding experience. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is to create a website and believe the job is done. I like to use an offline analogy to demonstrate why that is ineffective.
Think about any shop you've ever walked into. Say you walk into the shop, nothing appeals to you and you don't find anything you'd consider buying but the next time you walk past the shop, you give it another try. You walk in and everything in the shop is exactly the same as last time you visited. No changes; same colours, same people, same experience .... again. I'd suggest it is highly unlikely that you would ever revisit that shop.
Your website is your shop - to the visitor. If they visit, don't enjoy it or get value, there is no reason for them to return. Then consider that getting traffic to your website can be harder than getting foot traffic into a shop because you may have no passing traffic. Therefore it is even more important to make their visit a pleasant experience.
Think of your website like a shop, you have to dress it, add new stock and signage to appeal and attract visitors and keep them coming back.
4. Add a Blog
Blogging is a vital tool for attracting visitors and boosting the online reputation of your business. Not only will blogging demonstrate your knowledge, you can share posts on the internet to engage with people who wouldn't have otherwise known you and, as a vital and equally important benefit - blogging will improve your ranking with search engines. Whatever you write in your blog needs to be original, engaging and relevant to your industry.
People love content that they can share and in turn, your business becomes talked about. Provide industry insights, useful tips and even run competitions. The more followers your blog attracts the more powerful your business’s brand becomes.
5. Integrate Social Media
Have you ever heard the phrase “Like us on Facebook”? That’s because brands are inevitably boosted through a strong social media presence. Also, by clicking ‘like’ you are basically agreeing to receive future updates from that organisation.
This is why adding links to your business’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media pages is so crucial. Social media buttons should be placed in a prominent position and link to your actual profile - not just the social media platform. For example, your Facebook button should be linked to your company page directly, like www.facebook.com/FrancineMBishop, not www.facebook.com. Please don't expect people to look for you to like your page, they won't.
Just remember again though, once you have got someone’s attention you need to keep it with engaging content – your social media strategy needs to address this.
6. Clear Calls to Action
A call to action (CTA) is a step or action that you want your website visitors to do. It might be filling out a form, making an enquiry or even buying a product. Whatever it is, it needs to be clear and easy-to-follow. Cryptic and/or hidden CTAs do not work as well as the ones that hold the visitor’s hand and guide them through the steps. Don’t be afraid to say things like, “Click here so you never miss one of our updates.” The visitor knows exactly what to do and what will happen as a result.
7. Mobile Compatibility
People use their smartphones, tablets and other internet-ready devices to browse the web. In fact, 4 in 5 smartphone users say they have used their mobiles to help them make buying decision. Website that are not easy to navigate and view on a mobile device tend to keep mobile visitors for a very short period of time.
That’s why your business’s website needs a responsive design. Responsive design displays perfectly on mobile devices of all sizes. It will automatically adjust to the screen size and enable visitors to get the information they're looking for with ease.
That's quite a long list, I know. But as I said earlier these are the 7 elements which EVERY great business website has and your business must keep up.
- Easy-to-navigate, logical designs
- Display contact information clearly and readily
- Provide original and engaging content
- Keep visitors coming back with a blog
- Promote social media presence
- Adopt clear calls to action wherever possible
- Ensure full mobile compatibility