A little earlier this year we wrote about 10 Things Your Website Should Have and at the time we promised that rather than giving you one lengthy list to implement we’d follow up with another post and today here it is.
To recap, in our previous post we advised that the following should be part of every website;
- Navigation Menu
- Contact Information
- Search Box
- FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
- Newsletter Sign-Up
- Fresh Content
- Social Media Links
- Credentials / Awards
If you don’t have any or all of the above in place spend a little time reading this post and book a slot in your diary to review.
Today’s post is going to address some of the practical options in addition to some items that will assist you in building up your business.
Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning – Thomas Edison
We all know that what gets planned gets done and like every area in business and life, your website needs to come with a plan too. Whether you’re a sole trader or there’s a team of you at work, do you have a plan for who is taking care of your website?
Website jobs would generally include updating stock levels, managing orders, adding blog posts, ensuring it’s kept up to date, where there are back-ups or plugins that these are in order. It shouldn’t be that job in the office that nobody really wants or somebody remembers when it’s gone a little quiet. Your website is your shop window to the world and depending on the type of business can be anything from a few minutes to a few days per week, if it’s something you don’t have time to manage properly your plan might simply be to outsource elements of the management so you can stay focused on your main job.
A Call To Action
Or multiple depending on what you do. While it’s nice to offer a list of services or products what do you actually want people to do – buy from you? Get in contact? Request a quote?
Sometimes you simply need to be very clear on why you’re providing information or be as blunt as you can online and ask for the sale – just as you would if you were selling face to face.
Remember, your potential customers are just a click away from competitors and they’re quite likely not going to pick up the phone to find out more before they buy so make it as easy as possible and be direct while at the same time appropriate, nobody likes overkill on the sales message either!
A Mobile Version
Most modern websites should come with a mobile version, responsive design is the norm for many platforms i.e. a site that adapts to the user’s device as opposed to expecting the user to pinch a screen or just lose out on some of the content because they opted for a phone over a desktop.
If your website is more than a few years old it might be time for a refresh, a quick look at your analytics should help you determine what means your customers are using to access the sites. In recent weeks I’ve seen a website averaging 80% from mobile, 5% from tablet and just the remaining 15% from desktop – how awful would it be to have your site only designed to cater for those 15%??
Search engines such as google take a wide range of factors into account when they’re deciding on how your site should be positioned on google search, if you’re not mobile-friendly you will lose out with your visibility too.
Over the lifetime of a business you will quite likely change how your brand looks/feels, you might even pivot to take on a whole different audience. If you decide to re-brand it’s a whole-site job along with your social media and offline presence too. It may well be that you have to update the site in stages particularly if you’re doing it for yourself but your customer shouldn’t feel like they’re dealing with two very different businesses just because they happen to land on two quite different pages of the site.
Branding is more than just your logo, it takes other elements into account also such as your imagery or the tone of voice. If you need advice on how to ensure your website is speaking with a clear brand voice it’s worth looking into getting a bit of help or even a second opinion from somebody who will be honest if budget is an issue.
Now more than ever people are being shown images at every turn and with the increase in popularity of networks such as Instagram you’re fighting for space amongst the many millions of photos that are uploaded every single day. The right images can sell your business more effectively than you can ever expect – wouldn’t you expect to find fabulous beaches on a holiday site or the latest new season clothes on a boutique’s home page?
When we’re working on a website we always have a discussion about photos at the first stage of conversation; does the client have their own? Will they need a photographer? If they’re a re-seller can their supplier provide photos? Or are we looking at stock photos?
The photos should always tie in with your branding and it’s always advisable to speak with your web designer or marketing agency if you’re not sure about how you should approach these as in an ideal world we’d all love to see crisp, high-quality images but where a favourite photo might be the preference it might be that it’s too small to be anything other blurred on screen, sometimes it’s the opposite in that the size of a photo is so large that it will slow down the loading of that page of the website.
And of course, there’s copyright – nothing looks worse than seeing a watermark appearing on a photo because it was “borrowed” from Google, despite rumours to the contrary there is no such thing as ‘free images from google’ – somebody owns them and you should ensure that you have permission to use them.
Optional Video / Audio / Animation
Without a doubt video, audio and animation work online but there’s a place and when it comes to your website it should be optional. How would you feel if you if you logged on to a website and it instantly started to play video with loud music – particularly if you’re sneaking a peak at the office when you’re supposed to be working??
A little animation works, particularly when it comes to making your business stand out online BUT if you’ve got a business which relies on people coming back to buy from you on an ongoing basis how often do you think they’ll check out that video you love on the home page? Always make viewing a video the customer’s choice, when it comes to audio work off the basis that they might not want people to overhear what they’re looking at and for animation even IF you’ve got the option to have every part of the page make a wonderfully-animated entrance sometimes less is definitely more!
A USP is a Unique Selling Proposition or in other words what makes you unique or different and tells your customer why they should choose your business over the competition.
What do you do better? Do you have an extended warranty? Do you offer a premium product? Does your product offer greater benefits to what’s on the market?
Define your USP and ensure it’s clear to people browing your website just why you should be their choice.
You don’t have to share every detail of your life or career but personally if I visit a site with the most amazing prices and that is super to look at, if I’m going to buy I want to know who or what I’m buying from.
If you’re a small business owner this is your chance to tell your customers how the idea came about, prove that you didn’t just decide one day to open up a site in what looks to be a lucrative new field and that you can deliver on what you promise.
You can use photos, case studies, testimonials, client logos, video, humour or plain and simple text but you want to build trust and a website without any form of insight into how this business came about isn’t going to help get that releationship off to the right start.
This is something that will depend on the business type but if you’re in a position to offer a freebie your website is the place to do it. You might have a free trial, a sample product or a brilliantly useful checklist that your audience will be delighted to find and your website is one of the most effective places to share it.
It’s quite often the case that you’re asked for your email address in exchange for this freebie or giveaway, technically when it comes to GDPR / Privacy Legislation you can’t make the freebie conditional on an email but that’s for another day’s post and today we’re looking to it as a means of building a relationship as all going well this person may be only to happy to subscribe to your email list too.
Support / Complaints
We’d all love to think that our business will always deliver the best service and value but circumstances can arise in any business that are totally beyond the control of the most well-trained employees or best value products on the market. If your customer goes to make a complaint about a delivery not turning up via your website and can’t find a place to log that complaint might they move straight to social media to voice their problem?
Similarly if you’re getting a lot of traffic on your site yet no sales wouldn’t it be good to have a place for somebody who decides to take the time to let you know that something isn’t working in your checkout process?
We all learn from customer service experiences both good and bad, ensure your customer has the opportunity to share their experience with you and make it as easily accessible as possible too.
So, some of the suggestions on today’s post are the nice to have as opposed to the essential to have items that can make up the components of a website.
However your website is designed and whether you’re responsible or you have the job outsourced, there are very few sites that can’t improve on something they’ve got in place or who can’t add something they like to a wishlist for when budgets allow for it. Remember, your website should never be ‘finished’ unless your business is, until then keep a close eye on what’s out there and take nothing for granted not least the operation of a website which for many is their only shop window to the world and for others is a sales channel that can over time exceed their offline presence.
If you’d like to learn more about how to improve on your current website, to have a website created, or to find out how you can manage your current site, feel free to complete this form with details of your situation and we’ll be in contact to arrange a complimentary call with you. Alternatively, if you’re interested in any of our other Marketing or Social Media Services, you can get in touch with us by submitting a query here.
And of course, at any point please feel free to pop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org