We help many small and large businesses with their websites. We design websites, we update websites, we maintain websites, we host websites, manage security, and make updates to websites. We’ve been doing it for over 11 years, and we’ve learned a lot in that time in business.
What I want to talk about today is how a small business can get the most from their website.
A lot of times it can be easy to simply put together a website, put a bow on it and call it a day. Technically, you have a website at this point. Is going to be effective? Probably not.
Let’s go over the best ways you can make your small business website more effective.
Easy to Use
First, your website must be easy to use for your customers. If your customers can’t use your website, then it’s pointless. How do you know if it’s easy to use? Ask one of your customers to look at it. Ask them if they can find your services page or if they can find a way to contact your business on the website. Ask them for any feedback they have.
Also, ask your staff to look your website. Ask them for feedback. The more, the better. Not only will this get your employees and customers involved, you’ll get a lot more opinions. Most opinions may not be important, but if you continually hear the same opinion, then should probably look more into it.
In order to get better feedback, it should be anonymous. You can send out surveys by email using a tool like SurveyMonkey.
Another good thing about asking your customers and staff for feedback on your website, is that they all use different devices and web browsers. You may discover that your website doesn’t function as it should in a certain web browser or device. This will all give you more information to help you make decisions.
Any professional web design company will do this testing for you in all modern devices and web browsers.
Something you can never be too redundant on, is your contact information. Make sure that your business’ contact information is available throughout your website.
It’s common to have a phone number in the top right portion of the screen on every page. Depending on your business, it may also be appropriate to have your hours of operation there as well of as your address and link for directions. This same information should also be repeated in the footer of your website.
Within your content, you should also list your phone number or link to your contact form. For example, at the end of a paragraph ask your visitors to call or text your business and list your phone number.
Don’t ever assume that your visitors will find your contact information on their own. You never know how busy someone is, or their technological abilities. Always make it easy for your visitors to find your contact information.
Along with having your contact information throughout your website, you should also have contact forms that are easy for your visitors to fill out. Don’t just have you contact form on your contact page. I recommend having a contact form on every page. For example, on your services page why not have a contact form at the bottom of the content or in the sidebar? If someone has a quick question, they can fill that information out and send it to you easily. That may be enough to push someone over the edge to contact your business. Don’t expect people to hunt for your contact form on your contact page.
Along with a contact form, you should also have an autoresponder. This means that when a visitor sends a message using your contact form, they automatically get an email notification that says you have received their message and will be responding in a certain amount of time. This allows your visitors to understand that their message didn’t just go into the ether.
Again, you must make it easy for your visitors to contact your business. Your website is not an online brochure. It’s your salesman, online every hour of every day.
Calls to Action
If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you know this item this something I continually hammer on. You must ask your visitors for the sale. For example, let’s say that you have just described how great your company is in the services that you offer. At the very end of that paragraph, list your contact information and asked the visitor to contact your business now.
A call to action doesn’t mean that someone must contact your business. They can also exchange their contact information (like an email address) for a white paper that is of value to them. Or maybe you have a VIP list where you send out periodical coupons – ask them to sign up for that. Your visitors get value, and your business builds its list in order to market to these prospects in the future.
This can be one of your most popular pages. It’s also often overlooked by small businesses. This is also a good opportunity to get more personal and telling the story of the business. Listing your staff on this page is also a good idea.
The about page gives visitors a chance to really get to know the business itself. After all, you are not a bland anonymous corporation. Your small business that people want to hear more about.
Photos of People
Something often overlooked, is including photos of the people in your business. You must include photos of the owners, staff, or ideally, both. When someone’s thinking about hiring a small business, they want to know more about the people they’re about to do business with. If you can show pictures of your staff or even owners, this will greatly help build rapport and trust with your visitors.
Don’t ever include stock photos of people and suggest these are your employees. That’s a lie no matter how you rationalize it. Your visitors won’t be impressed knowing that the first interaction with your business was deception. What other “great things” can they expect from your company after that?
There are ways to include stock photos in a way that doesn’t come off as cheesy, but I would refrain from using them. Especially of people. Even if the photos you have aren’t the best quality, people will appreciate seeing genuine photos from your business. After all, you have a small business not a Fortune 500 corporation. You customers understand that. The more genuine and honest you can be with your customers online, the better your website will perform.
Easy on the hyperbole. Again, you have a small business and it’s okay to “act your age.” Be candid with your visitors and they will appreciate you for it.
This is what you’re reading right now. A blog post.
A blog provides a great opportunity to share helpful tips, industry news, education, and the happenings with your business.
A blog also has great search engine optimization benefits (SEO). When writing blog posts, think about your visitors and how it can help them. Also, keep in the back of your mind topics that your prospective customers will be searching for. It should be no surprise to you, that this blog post I’m writing right now is targeted to small business’ who need help with their website. My hope is this post will be of value to them and that they will be able to find it using a search engine.
If you are going to have a blog, make sure you updated. If you’re going to update it once per year, a blog is not the best plan for your business. If someone stumbles on last year’s post, they might get the impression that you’re no longer in business or that you don’t even pay attention to your website.
You must keep your blog up to date. At minimum, you should post once per month. Ideally, once per week. If I could force any of our customers hands, I’d have them post daily.
If you are a contractor, plumber, or tradesmen, you should have a portfolio of your work. Keep in mind, that you should only list projects in your portfolio that you want more of. If you’re tired of bathroom remodels, don’t post bathroom remodels in your portfolio.
You should be continually taking photos of all the projects you work on at each stage. Not only for documentation purposes, but also for future marketing purposes, like a portfolio.
With your portfolio, it’s great to have photos but you also want to have content. You want to explain how the project began and how it ended. If you have a review from your customer, it’s also a good idea to include it.
Lastly, keep your portfolio up to date.
This one can be a double-edged sword. Generally, the last place you want to direct your visitors is social media. It’s an endless distraction loop that can quickly end with the visitor forgetting about your company.
Social media should be a last resort. You should have links to your social media pages using icons, but don’t put a heavy focus on it unless you have a very well-thought-out plan. If you direct all your traffic to social media, your visitors will see the latest notification and get lost in the social rabbit hole.
Where social media shines, is that if someone follows your business, you can communicate with them in the future. But don’t assume you’ll be front of mind there. Again, it’s only a last resort.
Frequently Asked Questions
This can be a great place to put all the common questions that your customers or prospective customers have. I like to think of this page as a catch-all.
Think about creative ways on how you can utilize this page. All your visitors to your website will have different personalities and research styles. Typically, your most informed and detail-oriented customers are going to devour this page. It’s also a place where serious prospective buyers will go.
If used correctly this page can be a huge asset to your website and business.
Your website must be fast. If you click on a link, and it takes a few seconds to load up the page, that’s too slow. Only a business owner looking at their own website would have this type of patience. Your visitors are extremely busy and don’t have time to wait for page to load. When you click around on your website, pages should load almost instantly.
If you want your website to run at full speed, you will have to have a professional web design company optimize it.
I hope these small business web design tips were helpful.
You can certainly do everything above yourself if you have the time, knowledge and expertise. When you’re first starting a business, it’s a good idea to handle as much as you can yourself. Generally, at that point you have more time than you do resources. But eventually, as your business picks up, you will need to bring in professionals to help you move forward, and your website is no different.
If that time is now, we’d love to help you with your website.