By Alex Levitov, tech and web development writer.
Small business owners cannot compete against other major players in the industry with their limited resources, manpower, and products. However, a business website does help level the playing field. This has now become a prerequisite for the most basic of services. Not only does a strong online presence provide a positive first impression to potential customers, but it can also increase sales, putting the business on the path to success. Most business owners are unclear on the elements of a successful business website and imagine it cutting a large chunk out of their start-up budget. To help air out any misconceptions and smoothen the process of transition from brick-and-mortar to digital, here are a few small business website success tips:
1. Start Off On the Right Note
Designing an elaborate website with all the bells and whistles requires sufficient knowledge of HTML 5.0 and Flash. Thankfully, most publishing suites offer basic templates for creating a simple yet eye-catching website, and that may prove enough for small businesses looking to generate a web presence. Make sure your new site contains your contact details along with a clear designed product catalog. Use the first page for promotions and showcasing your latest and best products. An online shopping cart is a must along with downloadable content, like PDF manuals and software.
Avoid common or garish clip art to make your website seem sleek and professional. Also, tiny text does not contribute to a minimalistic look for your website; what it does is make your content illegible on smaller displays. Also, it’s probably best if you skip over-the Flash page intros with background music. Not only do they slow down older systems but they also irritate customers seeking basic details about your business.
2. Establish Your Vision and Goals Clearly
If your first business site is meant to be a portal for purchasing products, make sure you design it around that goal. If your website lacks a clear purpose, that’s a waste of both money and time, and you do not receive any benefits in return. However, don’t waste thousands of words trying to express the sentiment behind your company to users; remember, not every visitor will have time to read through pages of content just to locate basic details. Highlight the important points of your business and offerings, and make sure they can easily visible. But make sure you include how the services or products offered by your business benefit clients and customers.
3. Choose the Right CMS
Selecting a popular CMS provides more options for adding functionality later. But make it a point to stay away from custom-built CMS if you do not want any issues with changes, support, or upgrades to your small business website. A good CMS allows small business owners to create websites easily and update content without a developer’s assistance. Plus, you can manage your site with your staff using any device anywhere in the world.
4. Make a Mobile-Compatible Website
Since the announcement of the Mobile-First Index by Google in November 2016, small business websites need to be responsive. What this means is, your website will automatically rearrange itself when viewed on mobile devices. Apart from that, ensure a positive user experience across various mobile gadgets.
5. Keep Your Brand Identity Consistent
Before you start building your new site, keep all your brand elements handy, including brand colors, fonts, logo, and so on. These elements need to be kept consistent throughout the pages of your website. The design of your site should complement existing material – both in print and online. Only when web design and brand building work together will your site achieve the desired goal.
6. Fulfill the Expectations of Your Visitors
Most visitors will have some expectations regarding the information they find on your small business site. Thus, assigning a section to tell your story, and showcasing the way your consumers benefit from your products or services is important. Also, make sure your visitors can locate the content they want easily and efficiently. With the attention span of consumers decreasing steadily, the faster you allow them to find the desired page, the more time they will spend on your site and the better their experience with it will be.
7. Do Not Use Outdated Technology
You don’t need to be a high-end developer to manage and run a small business website. However, that does not mean you keep rinse and repeat the same technology through the years. Using outdated tech makes your new site feel reductive, and the customer’s perception about your whole business takes a hit. So, unless you plan on dealing in antiques, ensure that your new site appears relevant and fresh.
8. Own a Web Domain and Platform
Make room in your business budget for purchasing an actual domain name. Some providers give out free ones with extensions. But you need to create a website that looks a bit more professional with an address that is easier to remember. Also, pay attention to your hosting platform. Go for options that are highly customizable and scalable. Do not make the mistake of choosing the first web domain that comes your way; understand the needs of your business before you finalize the hosting platform.
9. Select the Right Theme
The appearance of your site goes a long way in attracting the right clientele. Given how most small business owners don’t possess the resources to hire a design crew, you can pick one of the pre-made themes. Purchase a good theme from the web host you’ve selected after going through your options and conducting small edits along the way. But whatever you do, never opt for free themes. They are not as secure as the ones that cost money. The best part is, a theme doesn’t have to be costly; it can cost only a few dollars and still keep your small business site secure.
10. Never Underestimate the Power of Customer Testimonials
Customer Testimonials are a great element to add to a business website. Especially if your site is brand new, quality testimonials make your site seem more genuine. So, instead of publishing generic and boring recommendations, posting even a few lines from customers can increase credibility.
A successful business is possible only if you implement the right business website to go alongside it. Following the tips above can help you create a good website, but you need to understand what works for your business and make changes that pay off in the long run.
About the Author
Alex Levitov is a tech and web development writer with over 5 years experience in developing UX/UI field. The last 2 years he’s been running his own web blog and writes analytics articles for different online magazines. Follow him on Facebook and Google+.