It goes without saying nowadays that every business of any size should have a website. Even the smallest companies need to showcase their location and services, especially with old-fashioned alternatives like phone books being phased out. Your website does not need to be the greatest site ever made, and the decision whether to do it yourself or to pay someone else largely comes down to your own goals. Either way, there are crucial factors that affect every business site and guidelines that all companies should follow.
1. Keep it Uncluttered
While the whole point of any website is to convey information of some sorts, you should never go overboard on the amount of information you attempt to pack into a tight space. Indeed, while there will often be plenty you want to talk about on your site, less is often more when it comes to content. Focus on the key message and the overall goal. This might be lead generation, where a potential client gets in touch to discuss your products and services, or it might be a direct sale through the site. Regardless of what you ultimately wish to achieve, focus on that message and design every page to funnel towards a successful conversion.
2. Make it Easy for Search Engines to Find Your Site
The chances are that your marketing efforts extend further than online sales, but search traffic is always a difference-maker. Search engine optimisation is a topic all of its own, but it is important to implement some considerations into the overall design and build of your site. Compose useful content that is likely to appeal to search engines and use keywords that work with your goals to give yourself the best chance to appear for your chosen terms.
3. Make Your Site Responsive
A significant number of people that may look for your website will do so on a phone or tablet, and you want to look professional regardless of the device. Indeed, Google often views sites from a mobile-first perspective, and your appearance in the rankings could hinge on the quality of the experience for mobile users.
4. Collect Leads
If you are fortunate enough that your business model enables the website itself to do all the hard work once a client is acquired, then you can focus on that in your design. For most businesses, the goal is online contact or a visit to a physical location. At the very least, you should attempt to collect an email address – even those with buyer’s intent will shop around, and they may leave your site and neglect to return. With their email address, you can contact them in the future and aim to convert if they have not yet made a purchase.
5. Be Easy to Reach
The main goal of each visit is to turn a browser into a buyer, regardless of the products or services you offer. In some cases, you will aim to make a sale through the site, and you may never need to speak to the customer directly. In most cases, you will want them to contact you to discuss their requirements or visit your physical location, so ensure that your contact details are displayed prominently on the site. In design, sites that prefer no contact will hide their details away on a hard to find page, but if you want those details out there, they should be as visible as possible.
6. Build on Existing Branding
It is not always easy to integrate your existing logo, colour scheme and branding into a website but even if this ends up being the most challenging part of the design, it is worth the time investment. This is particularly the case if your branding extends offline, as the same look and feel will reassure visitors that they are in the right place at a single glance.
7. Simplicity and Uniqueness Matter
The temptation will be there to use the same templates as anyone else for your site. There is nothing wrong with this – existing templates are there for a reason and take a lot of the headache out of site design, especially if you do it yourself. However, your template of choice should be customisable so that your site reflects your brand values and does not look exactly the same as dozens of other sites out there. A simple, unique design makes a site look professional and makes it more likely that site users will seek to investigate further after they arrive.
8. Focus Your Best Design Skills on Conversions
Ideally, you will be able to put in as much time as required to make your site perfect, either through building it yourself or working with a designer. In any case, your best efforts should be reserved for the conversion process. A purchasing decision is often made in seconds, so that is the amount of time you have to convince someone. If you sell physical products, take the time to get the photos right, and if you sell services, focus on words that will convince a potential client to take the plunge.
9. Build with Speed in Mind
Loading times have a massive impact on website performance in many different ways. Your first concern should be the visitor – if your site takes an age to load, the chances are they will click away before you even have the chance to sell. It has an impact on search rankings too, so use a fast web host and design your site to be fast and lightweight.
10. Keep Content Coming
Your web content also plays a part in rankings and provides further opportunities to get your site in front of potential buyers. Go into detail about products and services on specific pages to ensure that anyone seeking reassurance or further details can find it, and consider a dedicated blog even on a business site to give you a reason to push fresh, regular content.