Website Design: If You Want To Help Your Online Business Grow Faster, Then Get The Basics Right First.

Every online marketing business wants to grow faster and bigger.

That’s a given. What’s surprising then is that so few of the would-be go-getters actually devote sufficient time to their websites. It’s almost as if they threw up a site when they first started trading, and then decided, oh well, that’ll have to do. The problem with that is that websites are no different than cars. They need attention and they need constant maintenance.

You wouldn’t drive your car every day and never check the brakes or the tyres would you?

If you knew something wasn’t right or that the engine wasn’t running quite as it should, you certainly wouldn’t just ignore it and hope that it would fix itself. Well, it’s the same for websites. If they’re not attracting the kind of audience you would expect, then don’t ignore the problem or blame the customers: it’s probably your website that’s at fault. So, now is as good a time as any to give your website an MOT using these simple tips.

‘About Us’ pages.

Every good website should have an ‘about us’ section, and in fairness a good few do. Unfortunately many of these deserve to be dragged before the beak on trade’s description charges. At best the information is scant, at worst it’s practically none existent. The point is if users actually take the time to go to that page, they actually want to know about you. It’s your job therefore to tell them about you. Include any information you think might be relevant like biographical information about the owners and senior members of staff. Customers want to know who’s running the business and why, they don’t just want information on the products or services you sell. Let them see the real you: well, only if it’s not incriminating.

‘Find Us’ pages.

Many potential customers want to know the exact location of a business. So give it to them. Tell them exactly where you are and provide a ‘proper’ map. There’s nothing more frustrating than being forced to open a substandard map in a window: people want to be able to scroll across the map and have the ability to zoom in and out so that they can get some sort of handle on where the business sits in relation to landmarks or other businesses they’ve dealt with. If you want to be especially helpful, then include a large photograph of the front of your business and your front door, as this makes identification much easier for the first time visitor.

How does your website look on a smartphone?

If you don’t know the answer to that question then you’ve already lost the battle. A recent poll of 400 small businesses by Software firm Serif found that 74 percent had not designed a mobile version of their websites, and 86% failed to produce an iPad or tablet version. Business website might look great on desktops, but they’re awful on mobile screens. Every time the user navigates to a new section, the whole site has to reload: this means that whenever a browser navigates to a particular page on your website using a mobile, the chances are they’ll get switched across to the mobile version which transports them to the home page. The result is one seriously cheesed off viewer.

Flash, image-texts.

No, no, no, no, no – just no. Flash layouts, wire-frame and Java icons are so last century. Get up to speed.

Individual contact details.

If people want to get in touch with you, then make it as easy as possible for them to do so. They are potential customers after all. List all the people in your firm, and give them each an email and direct phone number. That applies to everyone, from the top right down to the bottom.

Be concise but comprehensive.

Words can inspire, but words can also alienate. If your business manufactures furniture then say so. Don’t go in for the ‘furnishings solutions provider.’ It says nothing other than your trying to hide what you actually do. Make the language clear and concise but be as comprehensive as possible. The website should list every product or service you sell. You may not still manufacture the products from 2000, but you should have a PDF available for anyone who bought the product to access quickly and easily. Remember the website is ultimately for the customer, not you.

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