A website is a necessity in today’s fast paced, web centric marketplace. Most business owners understand the need to have a professional presence on the web, but many don’t know where to start. Any website where consumers can access information about your company is better than none, but understanding how to put together a truly successful website can yield better results for your efforts and your business.
Make Your Website Easy to Use
Consumers are in a hurry. When they log on to your website, they don’t have the time (or the patients) to leisurely scroll through your entire site, checking out every page, and patiently seeking out the information they most want to see. Most consumers have a specific mission in mind when visiting your website, and if you don’t make it extremely easy for them to accomplish what they came to do, they may very well leave and never come back. Optimizing your website for ease of use is very important, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. To insure visitors can find what they need, use a well-organized and clearly labeled navigation system. While your website is a great place to show off your business personality, the navigation bar is not the place for clever titles or ambiguous phrases. Make it clear what information is present on each page of your website. In addition, embed links directly in your website copy, pointing visitors in the appropriate direction as you talk about what your website has to offer. You may also want to add a search feature to your website, making it easy for visitors to find what they want by searching for specific words or phrases.
Keep Everything Relevant
Your business website must have a clearly defined goal to be successful. The time you have with each visitor is very limited, so you need to maintain focus and consistency throughout your entire site. Don’t add information about things that don’t tie directly to your business (if you have stuff to share, create a personal website). Decide what you would like to tell visitors about your business, and then organize the information into pages, blocks, and links. Within each section of your website, focus on one goal or aspect of your business (e.g. listing your products or services, getting visitors to call you or sign up for your email list), and then make sure to stay on topic.
Focus on the Visitor
It might seem obvious to focus your business website on…well, your business. But doing so will actually decrease your website’s impact altogether. Your website isn’t about you- it’s about your customers (or potential customers). Yes, your website needs relevant information about your company, but that information needs to revolve around your visitors. Consumers aren’t on your website because they care about your business success or how awesome you are, they are there to solve their own problems and to make their lives easier and happier in some way. The website that speaks to consumers, not about how great you are at what you do, but about how you can solve their problems is a successful website.
Make it Quick
Web surfers are an impatient bunch. In most cases, you have a matter of seconds to impress a visitor and inspire her to stay on your website and read what you have to say. Large blocks of scrolling text are extremely intimidating (or maybe just annoying) to your visitors. They probably won’t take the time to read, or even skim, your website if it looks like it will take any large amount of effort on their part. The solution: think of your website as a quick pit stop. Make everything, and I do mean everything, quick and easy to digest. Keep text in short, bit-sized chunks with blank space between sections. Use bold headings, subheadings, bullets, and lists to organize content so visitors can quickly scan information and find what they need. Keep everything short and snappy, and your visitors are much more likely to have a successful experience on your website.
Add Something of Value
Consumers want something from you before they reward you with their business. Websites that talk only about the products and services the company wants to sell is far less successful than the website that gives the visitor something valuable. Show your potential customers that you care about them and are interested in helping them out. Giving something valuable away will help you gain trust, build relationships, and establish yourself as a knowledgeable business to work with. You can add value to your website in many ways, but some popular methods include: Informative articles, a helpful blog, a list of important resources, free webinars or podcasts, or a downloadable eBook. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is free, with no strings attached. Also make sure it directly relates to the type of business you run. These types of gifts will do many things for you, including establishing a positive connection with potential customers, positioning yourself as an expert or knowledgeable business in you specific industry, and giving your visitors a great reason to spread the word about your website and your company.
A successful website is a powerful tool for any business. Remember to make your website easy to use, relevant, focused on the visitor, quick to read, and valuable to potential customers, and you will be on your way to creating a website that will propel your business forward.
Sonja Jobson is a freelance writer based in Grand Rapids, MI. She specializes in help