Most business owners and managers have a love-hate relationship with their website. They love it the day that it’s done, or redone, and they don’t think it’s good enough any other day. At SmallBusiness.com, we’ve reviewed a slew of blogs and helpful resources and professional advice (mainly from self-appointed professionals) to develop this checklist of the essential information on a small business website that customers and clients seek.
A clear idea of what you want me to do
Site navigation becomes easier when you answer a few questions, starting with: What do you want your visitor to do on your site? Download more information? Call you? Sign up for a newsletter? See how you’ve solved problems like theirs? I’m here for a reason, so help me, and don’t just tell me about yourself.
A way to search the site
It’s irritating when you’ve been on a site, then go back to find something and can’t locate it. It’s imperative to have a inner site search bar–this helps me find what I’m looking for and doesn’t require me to rely on your taxonomy. No matter how well you’ve anticipated why I’m on your site, and my journey on it, I’m going to surprise you. Help me out. (Tip: If you’re about to say, “Hey, where’s the search box on SmallBusiness.com?” click on that magnifying glass icon up in the blue navigation bar. On sites designed to be read on tiny smartphone screens, the magnifying glass usually means “search.”)
You don’t know that much about me, unless you’re tracking me. And by tracking, I don’t mean the sleazy kind where you target me with spam. The easiest way to get me to provide you with information–and not feel spammed–is to have your site indexed with Google Analytics. Sign up, and it will walk you through embedding the code to help you see who’s on your site, where they’re coming from and how long they are on certain pages. Running Google Analytics for a period of time might help you clarify your site navigation–and do a better job with Must-do No. 1.
This one is so basic, but it’s violated all the time. Help me call you. I guess I understand why mega-companies actively discourage customers from calling and actively encourage them to use the company’s online capabilities, but it doesn’t mean I don’t resent the practice. And when I’m ready to call, I’m ready to talk to someone. Don’t make me search all over your site to find you. If you’re retail, make it easy to plug your address–including ZIP code–into my smartphone. And don’t make me fill out a form to contact you: let me send you an email. You have a small business. People love small businesses. Don’t make it look like you’re a faceless large business.
(Image via Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Many small business owners aren’t aware of all the different web browsers that are in use. Yes, people are still using IE versions older than 8.0. Also, accessing via mobile is just a basic expectation now. You need Responsive Design, something that works right no matter how old or how new a customer’s Web browser is.
Who are you?
If you make it hard for people to learn who the human beings at your business are, you seem sneaky. Be sure to include an About page. Be real.