Often people tell me, "My business website isn't working. I'm not getting anything out of it."
The trick to getting what you want out of your small business website, such as leads and sales, is to have a website design that attracts the visitors you want and encourages them to do what you want them to do. To create a business website that works look at your website design (or your plans for one) and ask yourself these eight questions.
1) Does your website have a professional appearance?
Your small business website design needs to look professional. Some cookie-cutter website templates and/or home-made websites stand out like sore thumbs, and do nothing to encourage anyone to do business with you. Unless you are an experienced website designer, you should hire one to design a small business website for your company.
2) Does your website provide 'real' content?
The endless sales pitch approach is vastly overdone and an instant turn-off for visitors. People come to your small business website to see information about your business, and your products and/or services. They are already interested. So provide more relevant, additional content for them. For instance, if you offer bookkeeping services, additional information on keeping records or tax tips are great value-added content. If you sell tiles, provide not only detailed information on your product lines, but how-to information on installation.
3) Does your website make it easy for people to do business with you?
Somewhere on your website, you need to have a page that has your full contact information, including your mailing address and your phone number(s). It's not good enough to just have an e-mail address, especially one that starts "webmaster@". Carrying contact information on every page is even better.
4) If you have an ecommerce site, do you provide adequate online payment options for your customers?
If you want people to buy your product, you have to make it easy for them. Invest in a good shopping cart, and make sure that you offer payment options such as credit cards and other online payment options, such as PayPal. People don't want to have to bother to print off and mail in a form and a cheque. (For more on Canadian online payment options, see Online Payment Options for Your Online Business and Canadian E-Commerce Solutions.)
5) If you're selling a product or service online, does your website address your visitor's security concerns?
Customers are concerned about transmitting personal information, such as credit card numbers, over the Web. You need to not only have the appropriate technology (such as SSL) in place, but let your potential customers know about it, by putting your Secure Site certificates in prominent locations, and having a page that addresses your visitor's concerns, such as a FAQ.
Now your site showcases your business, and the products or services you offer in a way that makes doing business with your company attractive. What's next? Signage; showing the prospective customer the path to your business website's door. Click to continue onto page 2...