You might be a great designer, offer a bespoke tailoring service or create fabulous jewelry but without the right shopfront, your fantastic creations are simply not going to be seen. And while setting up your own business was absolutely the right decision, that doesn’t mean you have the first idea how to set up your own website.
That’s where your website designer comes in, someone who’s working on your side to create the best way of showcasing your goods and services and giving your business the very best chance of being seen in a sea of other sites.
So, what is it that every good website should have? We bring you ten must-haves that you’ll want your site to include for your online business.
We are talking about themes but not just a pretty colour or great design, a consistent look that runs through your whole website and on into your social media and offline branding too. A look that people know is uniquely you and associate just with your brand.
How do you create this? You start with your brand values and you create your identity as a visual representation of those values. Talk to branding consultants about creating this and have that consistency right from the off.
A domain with an easy to remember name is a domain that people are going to trust and visit. Where possible end your domain with .com but your country name and then .net are close second and thirds. Where possible try and avoid hyphens and stops in between words, they just make your audience have to work harder and don’t appear as professional.
In an ideal world, the way you speak your web address should be exactly the way you type into a search engine.
You don’t enjoy waiting for a web page to load up and neither will your customer so make sure you’re operating on optimised page loading speeds. If it’s not your customer’s iffy wifi that’s the problem then it might be that you’ve included too many extras into your site.
Even something as simple as too many plugins may cause you to slow down so do some testing and make sure you’re pages are loading at a speed that won’t keep your customers waiting to access your site.
Your customers don’t enjoy trawling through your site looking for a direct email address or phone number to make it easy and clear how, when and where you can be reached. Where possible include a name or make your email address sound like it reaches a person rather than an admin box somewhere.
If you don’t have a dedicated business line and are unwilling to leave a mobile phone number you might consider taking out a subscription for a business number that will filter calls through to your private number while allowing you to set out of office messages after business hours and not affecting your personal use.
Easy Site Map
Attention spans are not what they used to be so, for many people at least, the thought of trawling through a website in search of information is not appealing, nor is trying to navigate around a site that keeps leading you back to the beginning with no clear path.
When thinking about your website, think logically and think like a customer. Where would you like to go after visiting your home page? Make it easy and straightforward to follow with clear calls to action along the way and you’ll have a website that leads customers smoothly to a point of sale without them getting frustrated along the way and giving up.
Got some satisfied customers? Shout it from the rooftops! Nothing beats a personal recommendation particularly if you can attach a name, photo, and website to the testimonial to give credibility to the write-up and the person behind it.
Make this prominent, even on your landing page to show new customers that you are a brand that can be trusted and comes with the personal guarantee of previous users. Don’t be afraid to approach regular customers for a testimonial and update your site. Having a rolling feature of testimonials, rather than static text boxes will add to the appearance of quantity as well.
Just because you know all the jargon in your industry it may not be the same for your customer’s so great readability is a must. Grab hold of a content writer if you need to but make sure your text is enough to give your customers what they need while not being a wall of text.
You’re looking for a short, snappy and engaging style that answers questions and sells your product without bombarding the reader with too much in the way of information. Oh, and it also helps if areas, like your blog pages, are Search Engine Optimisation friendly.
And speaking of being SEO ready we’re talking about your site’s ability to be picked up on search engines and by search engines we mean Google of course.
The short story about SEO means that certain keywords and content on your site make it easy for Google to pick up and feature in its listings. You want, of course, to be featured on the first few pages of the site rather than too far down as few people make it past the third page of the search results unless looking for something specific.
Writing for SEO is a skill in itself. You’ll need short sentences, easy readability and of course those keywords. You’ll need to use them well but not overstuff them on your site as this appears like spam to the clever Google algorithms.
If you’re not sure about SEO or how to get placed, then definitely consider calling in the experts. There are a great many expert tips and tricks to find your best way of getting your name up there on Google.
Image courtesy of Pexels
If your site looks great on your laptop but fails to load properly or is completely unreadable on your phone or tablet then you’re going to need to go for a redesign. With so many people accessing websites through their phones, it’s equally as important to have this just right. If it doesn’t look right it runs into the danger of at best looking unprofessional and at worse looking like a fake or scam site. People just won’t trust it enough to take their business to it.
You’ll need to test this site from a number of devices so have friends and family go through on their phones, tablets, and laptops as customers and iron out any glitches along the way.
You’ll also need to think about the accessibility of your text on the site. How easy is it to read. Have you chosen a font and colour that stands out, or is it too easily lost in the background image? Again test this out yourself and see what might be causing problems.
Your website isn’t a stand-alone piece. It’s just the showcase for your goods and services. You have a whole other online presence to alongside your site so it’s time to think about how they all fit together as part of the online jigsaw.
You may have done some market research and know where your customers hang out on social media, in which case you’ll have started building up your social media presence on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You may be on all or just a few of these platforms, but wherever you are, you’re going to need to start using them to link back to your site and using your site to advertise links to your social media.
With many users Tweeting brands their questions, queries and complaints, staying on top of your communication is key and will drive the customer to your website. Use your analytical tools to determine which sites are best at doing this and focus your energies on these platforms rather than the unresponsive ones.
Give your business a fighting chance of being noticed above the noise, hustle, and bustle of the internet with a great site. If you find it hard to build something yourself then employing a specialist in website development is worth its weight in gold. You simply can’t leave your first-rate product to languish on a second rate site.
Think strong branding, clear, snappy texts and images that pop to give your site the edge. Keep text clean and easy to read, not lost in a wall of words and make sure your site has an easy to understand and navigable flow to it.
With fully optimised search engine content and a great design, your site is going to launch your product or service into the stratosphere. Fast, friendly and eye-catching, you’re going to stand head and shoulders above the competition with a mobile-friendly site that ticks all your customers’ boxes, now and every time they visit.