No matter what the goal of your business’ website is, good design is essential to attracting customers and keeping them. When designing your site, be sure to use clear navigation, avoid bright neon colors, and keep text and images to a minimum. Help your customers get what they want without overwhelming them.
Strategies for a Small Business Website
All websites are set up for one thing; giving information to the world. Some stop at the information part, while the vast majority are there to earn an income. Each website should be set up to meet the needs of your particular client. Some businesses are brick & mortar stores and use the internet as advertising; others have only an Internet business and do everything online. Whatever reason you use the Internet and want a website, you are wise to check out other websites before you begin your own.
Begin by looking at all websites to determine:
- How are sites formatted? Are they 1, 2 or 3 columns wide? Which suits your business?
- Where is the main content on the site and is it easy to see or overwhelmed with distracting side columns?
- What does their navigation look like and how easy is it to get to the spot you need to get to?
- Are the colors appropriate for the type of product? Bright primary colors for children sites; soft pale hues for wedding and photography sites, etc.
- If the site sells products, are you able to see the item clearly & is there a good description?
- How easy is the check out system on the site? If they have trouble getting to the cart & checking out, most people will abandon it and go elsewhere.
What to Look for in Website Design
- Your Home page is where you will tell a brief description of your business, preferably in 4 sentences. Tell how your business will best serve the visitor to your site.
- If people want to know more about your business they will automatically go to your ‘About’ page. Here you should tell give information on how your business started, who you are and the quality of your products/services.
- Always have a ‘Contact’ page and give options on how to contact you. Many websites use a contact form, but you also need to offer a phone number, fax (if available) and an email address.
- Every page will have a Title. Make sure the title is descriptive. This is not only helpful for your visitors, but is good for the search engines.
- Don’t try to crowd everything onto your pages. Less is more. White space is a welcome relief to Internet surfers. It makes it easier to read and allows people to find what they need quickly.
- Only use images to accentuate your product or service. Having Flash animation or clip-art just to fill your page will not reflect well to your visitors; unless you are advertising a children’s day care. Remember to use only professional images and limit the number on each page (unless you have a catalog section). Make sure you own the images or can show proof of purchase. Copyright infringement is not something anyone should take lightly.
- Help visitors find what they need quickly with easy and clear navigation. Make it consistent on every page.
- Remember you are not writing a novel, visitors browse your site, they do not read it. Keep your paragraphs to a minimum. You can include a link to additional information if someone wants more information.
Watch your color scheme
- You do not have to have glaring neon colors to attract attention to your site. You can do a block quote on a sale item, but keep it to only one to a page.
- Nothing gets me more frustrated than to click on a link and get an error page. Check your links daily. You can find free online services that can do this for you.
- Slow websites lose business. Make sure each page loads in less than 3 seconds. Contact a qualified web designer if you need help.
- Having a website is never enough. You need to get people to find you. This can begin with special coding on each page that corresponds to the content of each page. A professional web designer can assist you with this. You should also consider joining a number of social networks and get involved. If you share your expertise freely, people will trust you and eventually see you as the expert you are. This will help bring them to your site.
Ask your professional Web Designer how they plan to incorporate these items into your website.
Designing a website is a skill. Anyone can make it look pretty, but a skilled, professional web designer can make it function, accessible to everyone and rank higher in search engines. Nothing hurts your business more than cheap advertising and an unprofessional website. Invest in where it is important.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.