A well-designed small business website can unlock business growth that might otherwise be unattainable.
When designing a website, make sure you start with the basics. The key is to inform customers while promoting your brand and making a strong connection with your site visitors.
Design Your Site to Be Fresh, Informative, and Reinforce Your Brand
Each page of your Web site should be dedicated to a particular topic, concise and easily readable to ensure effortless navigation.
This starts with the home page, which is important because it's the first thing that potential customers will see.
So, start by creating a captivating home page. This is the most important pages of your Web site and it's an opportunity to impress customer's right from the start.
This page should communicate your core business identity and value proposition – briefly and accurately – without bogging readers down. Some designers will tell you that the more you have on your home page, the better off you'll be, but the truth is that sometimes less is more, and a streamlined home page could be more effective for you.
As you build out the rest of the website, make sure that the look and feel of each page is consistent with your other marketing materials – including your business card and any collateral – so you are reinforcing the core messages with every interaction you have with customers.
Beyond the home page, you must have an "About Us" page. Having this page will give you a chance to reveal a little about yourself and your business background.
Take this chance to make a more personal connection with your visitors, but don't forget to include basic information like your address and hours of operation.
Consider including a photograph of yourself and a little background on why you started your business. You can even go further by including a map which will serve as a great visual reference to illustrate your location.
It's also critical to give customers an opportunity to ask for more information. The Internet gives you the power to learn more about prospects and your customer base. This is your chance to truly understand your patrons' needs and to solicit feedback on your products and services.
Make it easy for customers to request information and provide feedback by including a 'contact us' form on your site. Then, extend special offers or create a mailing list using the information provided from customer responses.
Also evaluate value-added content, for example a list of products and services with prices, but also creative uses for these products (recipes, gift ideas, etc); links to related sites; customer testimonials; FAQs – and any other content that will help customers understand the value you offer. All of these elements will help to drive more visits to your Web site, and ultimately more sales.
Having the right content is just one element. Easy navigation is also a must so people know how to access the information you've provided. You should test and make sure that all of your links, pages, and clicks work prior to the site going live. Few things will drive people away from your site faster than broken links or pages.
With the simple steps outlined above, you are on your way to having a simple yet effective website for your small business.