As the digital age advances as a rapid rate, many small businesses are reevaluating their marketing strategies and moving online. It’s become essential for businesses to have an online presence in order to compete because even if you don't sell online your customers are definitely researching online. In fact 70% of a purchasing decision is made before a customer even speaks to a salesperson.
With so many small businesses launching websites these days, you may be wondering if your company needs one as well. The answer is yes! A website is a virtual storefront that represents your business. There are essential elements that you’ll need to create a website for your small business:
The Basics: Hosting, Domains and Templates
The domain name is the address of your website (commonly referred to as a URL). You may already have a domain name, but if you don’t, you need to do some research and purchase one.
The domain name should be short, memorable, and correspond with your business name. Vendors like Go Daddy make it easy to research and purchase a domain name. You will need to consider whether you need just one domain or secure a number of variations for example .com, .com.au etc. You usually also have the option of purchasing email addresses using the same domain at this stage as well.
In an ideal world you would have researched available domain names when starting your business to ensure you could secure a domain name that was the same as your business name.
The hosting company is responsible for storing and serving up your website from their servers. This is where the code is stored and executed, and where the website is ultimately hosted. You will also likely store your images and documents on the same server. If your site has a large number of visitors, you may need to upgrade to a more robust hosting plan. The hosting company will recommend a hosting plan for your site.
To keep things simple you can choose a platform that allows you to host and build your website in the same place. Common website platforms include Wix, Shopify and SquareSpace. They will have template websites, pages and sections in a variety of colours and styles. You can choose from a selection of pre-made designs or one that allows you to customise it yourself.
Home - The main page of your website. This is usually the page most people will land on when doing their research. This is a crucial page as it is the place you need to make the most impact and sell your business. many people land on your home page and go no further and can bounce away without converting of the content is not attention grabbing and appealing.
It should provide a summary of your product and services and your unique selling proposition (USP) - why your business is different and better than your competitors and how you will solve your customer's pain points. Include some hero splash quotes from happy customers for validation that they have come to the right place. And don't forget about your contact details!
FAQ's - FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions”. This is one of the most important pages on your website. It is one of the most popular ways of finding information on the internet and often, visitors will look here first. You can use it to answer questions like: Where are you located? How long have you been in business? How do I contact you? FAQ pages often include a list of common questions that are asked by your customers and their answers. FAQ pages are also great for search engine optimisation (SEO).
Contact - Your contact page should include several key pieces of information like your address, phone number, hours of operation, and email address. You may also include a form where visitors can submit questions and comments. This is a great way to interact with your customers and answer their questions. Ensure you monitor your messages - people online expect an answer quicker than other channels. If you don't answer their queries quickly they will bounce to a competitor who does.
About - The about page is where you can introduce yourself and your team. You can share a story about how your business got started and what your mission is. This is also a great place to include a photo of the owner. People like to see who is behind the business they are purchasing from and it helps to build trust.
Products or Services - Customers will likely visit this page if they are looking for a specific product or service. You can use this page to list all the products or services your company provides even if you don't sell online. Ensure the images of your products and services are professional, good quality, and sized correctly.
Reviews/Testimonials - Put great feedback from happy customers on your website - this gives potential customers the confidence that your business is right for them. Copy and paste over reviews from your Google Business and social media pages. However, NEVER fabricate reviews or testimonials. If a customers has given you feedback privately, be sure to ask their permission first before publishing it online.
A Solid Navigational Foundation
Navigation is a core element of any website. Visitors use it to explore your site, find what they’re looking for and make a purchase. A solid, intuitive navigation foundation will help ensure that your visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly, easily and without frustration.
You’ll want to start with a few key pages on your website, such as your homepage, about page, and services page. From there, you can create a sub-navigation. For example, if you have a services page, you can link the services page to a sub-navigation page that includes a list of services that you offer. Go easy on the sub-navigation though - you don't want people getting lost.
It’s also a good idea to link each page to your homepage - usually by clicking on your logo or menu.
Responsive design refers to a website’s ability to automatically adjust its content based on the device that is accessing it. This is super important for one reason - you don’t want to dissuade away potential customers who aren't able to adequately view your website on their device.
More people are using their mobile phone to browse the internet than a laptop or desktop computer these days, making it essential to have a website that can be accessed and viewed seamlessly from any device. You can get a website designer to incorporate responsive design into your site or you can purchase a responsive theme for your website.
Your website is your virtual storefront, but it is so much more than that. It’s your digital hub where you engage with your customers and manage their expectations. It’s where you post your products or services and information, and where you collect lead information.
It’s a 24/7 salesperson and needs to be treated as such - even if you don't sell online your business is being researched online.