Your business may be small, but a business website is no longer optional — even if you serve a local customer base, and have no intentions of selling your products or services online.
Here are five essentials every small business website should include:
1. A powerful home page. Your website’s home page is the first impression you give the online world about your business: It should clearly communicate your business’s brand image through appealing visuals and copy, along with:
- What your business does
- Who it serves
- Why it exists
- Why a customer should care
There are many creative ways to approach your home page, but it should include (at minimum): your logo, a brief description of your business, and a navigation menu that directs users to other important pages on your site.
Now that at least 68 percent of Americans own smartphones, according to Pew Research Center, your website should also include responsive design features that ensure it’s as easy to view and navigate on smaller screens as traditional desktop computer orientations.
2. User-friendly navigation. Whether your navigation menu expands across the top of your site or in a sidebar, it must be easy for site visitors to locate, and should include logical categories that make it simple for site users to find the information they seek. According to an infographic, poor navigation is the No. 1 reason people abandon a website they’ve visited.
Consider how you can best structure your navigation menu and the categories (and possibly, subcategories) it will contain based on common questions a new customer to your business might ask. For example:
- What broad categories of items or services do you sell?
- What do those products or services cost?
- Where is your business located; what are its hours of operation?
- How do customers purchase items or services, and what forms of payment do you accept?
Ideally, a clean navigation should use logical sequencing and titles that help customers easily identify the section of your website they need to visit.
3. Search features. Include a search box feature in addition to your site navigation menu so customers can type keywords or phrases to find the information they need when the navigation menu doesn’t meet their needs. When customers type content into the search box, they’ll be presented with relevant pages to visit, so they don’t have to handle their search manually. (The more content you have on your site that addresses all possible keywords, the more beneficial the search box feature becomes.)
4. Access to help. Despite the marketing benefits that a website offers small businesses and online customers, there are times when customers want to connect with a human. Your website should include the option to connect via phone, email and at your physical location, if you have one. Amazingly, Social Media Today reports that 93 percent of small businesses do not publish an email address that customers can use to contact them.
5. FAQ page. The more you engage with customers online and off, the more you’ll sense patterns in the types of information customers seek, and the questions that arise in regards to your products or services. Offer a page of frequently asked questions and their answers on your site to make it easier for customers to find the detailed information they need.
A small business website is an affordable and effective way to expand your online reach and potential to market to prospects and customers. Yet it needs a few critical elements to make a positive impression. Incorporate these five important website elements into your site to build an online presence that brings customers directly to your business, no matter where they’re located.
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