A business website is no longer considered optional. Long gone are the days where even a brick-and-mortar store could afford to slap up a throw-away website and expect customers to flock to their doors.
The good news is that having a beautifully designed and functional website that attracts visitors is easier than ever. Here are a few simple solutions you can put into place today to transform your business website into your company's greatest asset.
Make it mobile-friendly
Since Google recently put the word out that responsive websites would be favored in mobile search rankings, businesses have been scrambling to implement responsive design.
For those who aren't sure what responsive means, here it is in a nutshell: when someone visits your website from their smartphone or tablet, the website grows, shrinks, or otherwise rearranges itself on the smaller screen in a way that is visually appealing and makes all of the information accessible.
By contrast, when a web visitor accesses a non-responsive website from their smartphone, everything is displayed just as it would be on a desktop monitor. This usually means that the visitor won't be able to read the text or access any of the navigation. This leads to frustration and web visitors bouncing from your site in no time.
Make your homepage clear and focused
It can be tempting to try to fit everything your company does, sells, and stands for right there on the homepage. You might be thinking that you're making life easier for your visitors by positioning everything they might want or need on the one page.
The problem with that, however, is it creates confusion and information overload. When visitors can't figure out if they're in the right place, they turn around and head for the door.
You have 5 to 8 seconds to clue visitors in on what you do. The best way to do that is to focus your homepage on one big idea. Your website can have unlimited pages to explore all the other ideas your business stands for. Your mission for the homepage is to get people to stay a little longer.
Make it user-friendly
Your website should make it as easy as possible for people to consume key information. Unfortunately, sometimes a designer's idea of what looks good may not be the same as your customer's idea of what’s user-friendly.
A few easy-to-remember principles should help keep your website focused on your visitor.
- Larger, darker type. Tiny, pale type is difficult to read.
- Clear navigation. Link out to the main pages on your site via the main navigation bar. Resist the urge to add in pull-down menus. They create confusion and overwhelm.
- Use lots of white space. White space aids the eye, giving it a place to rest so the mind can absorb all the information. It's also more aesthetically pleasing.
- Make your content easy to scan with headings, subheads, and short paragraphs. Large blocks of text can appear dense and difficult to read to eyes that are in a rush to locate the information they need.
Make your content customer-focused
It's easy to fall into a pattern when writing on business topics of using industry jargon or "business speak." Even worse, writing in a formal, academic style.
That style may be acceptable when writing for other professionals, or if your business is B2B. But if your business website is intended for an audience of laypeople, this kind of formality can be off-putting and difficult to digest.
As a rule of thumb, a conversational style is always welcoming. It can be dressed up or down according to what's appropriate for your market.
Imagine your ideal customer. What kind of language do they use? What do they sound like? Let your content match the audience.
Make sure they know how to reach you
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Imagine they visit your site and are excited to get in touch with you. Have you made it easy for them?
Be sure to put your contact information in several places. On a contact page, in the sidebar, in the footer, perhaps. Lots of people still love to see a phone number, too.
You may prefer email, but knowing they can get in touch by phone can give customers an added sense of comfort.
Building a website that your customers love won’t happen overnight. But the above tips will take you a long way toward making the sort of improvements that will get you noticeable results in no time.