An effectively designed and easy to use website is an essential marketing tool for small businesses, significantly increasing sales of your products and services. Conversely, a poorly designed website can result in serious loss of revenue and can actually drive potential customers away. So, it is important to get it right. Here are a few basic Dos and Don’ts that will help you to be sure that your website is answering readers’ questions, providing the information they require and encouraging them to do business with you.
DON’T RUSH IT
There is work to be done even before the website starts to take shape. The temptation is to try to get something up and running as quickly as possible, but don’t forget the crucial first step, which is to research your target audience. Many factors should be considered, including age of target audience. An older demographic might, for example, benefit from a large font, whilst a younger group is likely to be accessing your site via smartphones, so you need to make sure your site is compatible. You should also avoid trying to target everyone – focus on creating the best experience for your target audience.
DO AIM FOR A CLEAN DESIGN
A clean and unfussy design is always best. Don’t fill up your pages with clutter, as this is distracting and unproductive. White space gives your visitor room to breathe and to think. Bear in mind also that flashy websites do not look good on mobile phones or tablets, and a lot of visitors will be using these.
DON’T MAKE IT HARD FOR THE CUSTOMER TO CONTACT YOU
It’s amazing the number of websites that seem to be trying to hide their contact details. Be very clear on all the various ways a customer can contact you and don’t make them search for details. Customers may have queries they need resolved before deciding to purchase, or perhaps would like to speak to someone about one of your products or services. This is to be encouraged. A contact page with full information and perhaps even a location map is essential. A ‘click to contact box’ is another good idea.
DO HAVE A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION
You need to make it very clear what a visitor should do next to take advantage of the benefits your business offers. Explain the advantages you are offering and then tell the visitor exactly what to do to get the ball rolling, and encourage them to do it now. They might, for example, click to subscribe to your newsletter or to contact you for more information. Your product pages should make it very easy for them to order from you.
DON’T GET OUT OF DATE
Your website should contain the latest up to date information about your company and products or services. Customers want to know that you are innovative and moving with the times. So do make sure to regularly update your site and check that it contains all the latest information. If you are including a blog on your site, it should be updated at least once a week – or more frequently if possible.
DO KEEP LOAD TIME LOW
A load of flashy graphics and scripts slows things down. People have become used to fast computers and don’t want to hang around waiting for your site to load. Computer users are not a very patient lot these days. It doesn’t matter how amazing your site looks when it’s finally up and running if potential customers have given up and gone away. So minimize graphics, flash and scripts, optimise your code and delete any unnecessary tags or scripts.
DON’T ALLOW SPELLING AND GRAMMAR ERRORS
It isn’t just dusty old pedants who are put off by poor spelling and grammar. When it comes to spelling mistakes you can, of course, use the spell checker, but do remember that it does not take context into account and won’t recognise that a pier of the realm standing on Brighton Peer is not possible. Grammar too plays a very important part in ensuring that your text is clear and understandable. Even people unfamiliar with the rules of grammar ‘hiccup’ when they stumble across a glaring error. It might be an idea to ask someone who is good with spelling and grammar to have a look over your text before you put it on the site.
DO MAKE IT EASY TO GET AROUND
Visitors to your site do not want to have to make their way through a maze to visit the pages that interest them. An easy to use navigation system is essential to ensure that potential customers do not get lost and confused and go away to another site.
DON’T ASSUME ANYONE CAN DESIGN A GOOD WEBSITE
It is worth considering paying a professional designer if you feel you do not have the necessary experience. Your customers will make assumptions about your business based on the website, so it must reflect care and professionalism. Often looking at the site will be their first experience of your business and first impressions really do count. So, be realistic about your capabilities and get a good professional on board if it seems necessary.
MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE WORKS FOR YOU
The above are a few basic, but essential, things to look out for that will help you to be sure that your website is appealing, informative and, above all, effective.