21 Feb Simple ways your website can make or break your business
Over the next few blog posts, I’ll be sharing some website tips for small businesses, with practical advice on getting your company website into tip top shape. But first, I thought it was worth a short summary of why it’s so important to review your online presence.
People might end up on your website through various routes. They might search for someone who does what you do on Google and find you that way. They might know something about your business and search for you specifically. They might see your advert, flyer, van, shop front or product on shelf and go to your website for more information. You might even tell them to go there.
The making: getting the basics right
However they get there, don’t disappoint! They’re likely to be going there to find an answer to a question, so try to anticipate what that question might be and make the answer easy to find. Some really simple things to include:
- Who you are: people feel reassured by having an idea of who they’re dealing with
- What you do: include clear, unambiguous details of your services
- How to reach you: include a contact email address and phone number, not just a contact form
- Where you are: if physical location is relevant to your business, make sure you include it
- When you’re available/opening times: if people are coming to see you, or need to contact you, knowing when you’re there avoids wasted trips and subsequent disappointment
- How much it costs: if it’s possible and appropriate to include prices for your products and services, such as an entry fee or indicative food prices, do
- Why choose you: testimonials are great to include if you have them – peer recommendation is powerful.
These may all sound obvious, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced some online frustration where these fundamentals are missing. Not including these basics can immediately send people back to Google to find someone else instead – patience is not in abundance online!
The breaking: things to avoid
And what can break your business? Well, that depends to an extent on your business and your audience. But bearing in mind that first impressions count, and that the first impression someone has of your business could well be your website, here are some common ways businesses get it wrong:
- Missing information: I just want to call you, but where’s your phone number? I’m going somewhere else.
- Poor navigation: I can’t find what I’m looking for: frustrating. I’m going somewhere else.
- Too much animation: I just don’t know where to look, all the flashing bits are distracting me. I’m going somewhere else.
- Poorly written copy: I don’t understand what you’re saying, there are loads of mistakes, if you can’t take the time to get that right, I’m not going to trust you with my business. I’m going somewhere else.
- Big blocks of text: I can’t be bothered to read that, so rather than wading through it to find the answers I need, I’m going somewhere else.
- Lots of different font types, colours, styles: This looks a bit sloppy, not very professional, so I’m not sure I’d trust you to deliver a professional service. I’m going somewhere else.
- A long intro (with music, perhaps) that I can’t skip through: I just wanted information and I wanted it quickly, I’m not prepared to wait. I’m going somewhere else.
- Out of date content: Your next event is in 2012? I hope not! I’m going somewhere else.
I’ll admit, some of these might be my pet peeves (I’ve got a lot of those when it comes to websites), but they do also reflect the views of a significant number of web users. A wealth of user experience research, not to mention common sense, says so.
Check your site today
So, a very quick task for you this week. Take a look at your website, imagine you’re coming to it for the first time and see if you can quickly answer these three questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How can I get hold of you?
If you can’t, fix it. Now.