Everyone can agree by now that no matter what size business you have, whether you`re a sole proprietorship, small, medium, large business or multi-national organization – every business needs a website.
Technically speaking you can get away without business cards, brochures, or even a physical office. However, if you don`t have a website, it will raise large question marks about whether you actually have a real business, or whether your business can afford to be in business.
In today’s day and age a website is the first place anyone will go to in order to learn more about your company, products and services. Most people will check out a website before they even take the time to call you or visit your location in person.
Your website essentially validates your business and represents your company and brand. It clearly defines what your business is and what you have to offer.
A website is:
- An extension of your business card
- It`s your brochure or catalogue
- It can be your virtual office. If people can do business with you remotely, then your website will be the only ‘office’, ‘virtual location’ or ‘store front’ they will ever see.
- It can be your cashier or shopping cart.
- Your website is your company’s image – It defines your brand, product and services.
Your website design, how it reads and how it functions will set the tone for how your clients and prospects will interpret your company and brand. Your website will ultimately determine if people will choose to contact you and do business with you.
So how do you ensure your website is designed and built to do its job properly? The following is a check list you should follow to ensure your site is living up to its expectations:
1. Make it Clean, Clear, and Easy to navigate
– An interface that is self-explanatory and easy to interact with is user-friendly.
– If people have a hard time understanding what you do or finding the right sections or pages on your site, then they’ll get frustrated and leave. Make things easy and obvious for your visitors
2. Make sure it reflects your image and appeals to your target demographic
– Your website design should reflect the image of your business and should appeal to your target demographic. Ask yourself who your audience is – male, female, kids, teens, mom, affluent, middle income, corporate, etc? Make sure that the design and copy carries the appropriate look and tone to engage your audience and catch their attention. At the same time, make sure it truly represents your business image, philosophy, services and products. The more you are true to yourself and your target, then higher chance you will have of retaining the right audience for your site, and ultimately for your business.
3. Make it Speedy
– People don’t have time to waste. You have seven seconds to capture someone’s attention and get them deeper into your site or they leave. If they leave that is considered a “bounce.” If your website has a high bounce rate, it usually means that it is not delivering the information that people were expecting to get. Or, it could mean that page loading time was too slow.
– Therefore, keep copy clear and concise with strong headlines and easy to read body copy. Bullet points can be very effective allowing the eyes to skim through and retain essential information.
– Make sure site is quick to load and all pages are quick to transition. Avoid heavy graphics that will slow down loading time.
4. Make it Mobile Friendly
– More and more people are using their Smartphone and iPads or other mobile devices to navigate the web. Make sure your site can be viewed, read and navigated easily on a mobile device. Do not use flash in your design as flash will not show up on some mobile devices.
5. Make it Search Engine Friendly
– Without a doubt people use Google and other search engines to find what they’re searching for. Search engines can only read text, not graphics. Make sure your text is programmed in HTML not in graphics or flash so that the search engines can crawl through your site and read it. Make sure to include appropriate key words within your titles, headings, body copy, links and meta data.
6. Make it Quick and Simple to Contact you
– If possible, place your phone number on your home page and all other pages. Have a ‘Contact Us’ page that is easy to find. Your contact page should display all your contact information, a clear map with directions, and an inquiry form for people to quickly and easily submit an inquiry.
– Every page on your site should have a clear call-to-action to guide visitors on what to do next – call, fill out form, watch video, download white paper, read more, make a purchase. Tell them what to do and make it easy for them to do it.
8. Keep your site Fresh and up-to-date
– People like dealing with a company that is current so keep it up to date with: recent news, PRs, blogs, new products, new case studies, new white paper, new images in photo gallery, etc.
9. Make it Social
– Social Media is here to stay and everybody is getting on the bandwagon. So it’s time to create your company’s social media profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Choose the social media platforms that are relevant to your business and industry and set up your social business profiles. Make sure you keep those profiles active and up-to-date. Link to them from your website and have reciprocal links back to your site.
Your website is the marketing hub of all your marketing materials and your brand image. Treat it like the marketing asset that it is. Give it the attention to detail that it deserves and it will reward you. If you deprive it, you are only depriving your business of its online potential. Give your website what it needs, and you shall receive!