October 31, 2014  
 
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Small Business Websites

Good news. You've got a website. Bad news. Your site stinks. As a business owner, there's no sense having a website for the sake of a website. Your website needs to work for you and help you accomplish your goals. Maybe it's time to invest a little more in your website and finally achieve the ROI you hoped for with the initial site.

Websites are a vital component in many small businesses. But a lot of small business websites don't actually accomplish what they were designed to do.
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Since you're already paying for the website, it only makes sense to do whatever you can to maximize your site's effectiveness.

The fact of the matter is that with just a little effort, you can turn an average website into an excellent one. Here are 10 tips to help you make an impact by making the most of your company's site:

1. Custom design

Customers can tell the difference between a cookie-cutter website and one that was designed from scratch. The investment you make in designing a site that is tailored to your business and your customer's needs will pay for itself in the added attention it draws to your products and services.

If your design is now three or four years old, it's probably an outdated look and feel, one that implies your business is not keeping pace with the times. Consider having a designer give your site a new, fresh look. In most cases, this costs much less than designing a site from scratch because they can repurpose existing content and navigation schemes.

2. Leverage visuals

A website has to grab the customer's attention quickly since most people will only stay on a page for a few seconds. The best way to get their attention and keep it is to employ high resolution images and graphics.

3. Use words sparingly

A website needs to use words (called copy) to be effective. But use copy sparingly! A text-intensive site usually requires a larger time investment than most customers are willing to make.

4. Simplify navigation

A website that is complicated to move around in is a big turnoff. Work with your web designer to make navigation as easy and intuitive as possible.

5. Keep the site current

An outdated website communicates that there is a problem with your business, even if no problem exists. For example, if it is apparent that your website hasn't been updated for more than a year, many customers will assume you have gone out of business. Get in the habit of updating your site regularly with new content at least once a month.

6. Promote your website

Some businesses have great websites that are completely ineffective because nobody knows about them. Promote your website by printing your web address on your company's promotional and packaging material. You may also want to consider advertising the site on search engines.

7. Solicit feedback

Some of the best ideas for improving your website might come from your customers and employees. Take every opportunity to solicit feedback about the site and ways that it can be improved.

8. Outsource web design and maintenance

Designing and maintaining a top quality website requires a certain amount of expertise. Unless you have someone on staff who really knows what they're doing, your best bet is to outsource the design and ongoing maintenance of your website to a professional.

9. Check out the competition

What do your competitors' websites look like? By researching their websites, you might come up with an idea for your website that will give your business a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

10. Monitor traffic

Your website is only as good as the number of people who visit it. To find out how effective your site is, you need to develop a way to monitor traffic, usually by way of a counter that tallies how many people have visited it over a given period of time and how long they stayed once they were there. Low traffic means that something needs to be changed to maximize your website's potential.

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