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.”)

Tracking/Google Analytics

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.

Contact Information

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.

Cross-browser compatibility

MultiBrowsers

(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.

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What Do All of Those Icons Mean on Websites & Apps?

Mobile apps require developers to replace navigational words with images. Sometimes what the images, or icons, mean, can be confusing.

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Tips for Using the New Facebook Like and Share Buttons on Your Small Business Website

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10 Tips for Managing a WordPress Website

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Why You Can’t Delay Making Your Small Business Website Smartphone Friendly

Smartphone friendly infographic: U.S. Adults now spend more of their time online using smartphones than either computers or tablets.

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GoDaddy Upgrades, Expands its Small Business Ecommerce Service

GoDaddy is announcing today an upgrade and expansion of its small business ecommerce service, GoDaddy Online Store.

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Webbly Updates its Website Creation, Management Platform

Carbon is a relaunch of Webly’s web creation and management drag-and-drop platform.

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How to Cure Writer’s Block When it’s Time to Post Something on the Company Blog

ideas for posts on your small business company blog

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By The Numbers | Small Business Websites, 2016

A new survey of 350 small business owners reveals that nearly one-half of their companies do not have a website.

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SmallBusiness.com’s Guide to Selecting a Web Host

Here’s the small business guide to help you navigate the twisted world of web hosting.

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How To Test Your Website’s Performance on a Mobile Device

Nine out of ten people will leave a mobile website if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away.

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Wix Adds ‘Artificial Design Intelligence’ to Its Website Creation and Hosting Platform | 2016

Wix says its new feature uses artificial intelligence and a human design sensibility.

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Google Will Start Penalizing Your Website on Mobile if You Don’t Stop Doing This | 2016

To improve the mobile search experience, Google will start penalizing the use of mobile interstitials.

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How to Hire a Developer to Help You Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly | 2017

Need help making your website mobile friendly? Here’s what Google suggests.

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How Small Business is Using Online Marketing | February 2017

While they are using more online marketing tools, small businesses voice frustration, need for improvement.

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What Percentage of Small Businesses Have Websites? | 2017

The law of small business websites: There are more and more every year.