Every small business is different, meaning that their websites will be different too; some will be focussed on online selling and a product catalogue, while others will be more focussed on information.
However, there are several features that EVERY small business website should include, whatever the nature of your business.
Easy to Find Contact Details
Phone numbers, social media profile names, email addresses and your physical address – all essential. A map of your location, plus easy to follow directions – essential if customers or clients visit your premises. If it’s only suppliers or reps, you may prefer to forget the map, and only send maps and directions to people when they make an appointment.
It’s constantly amazing to me that even big chain stores daily to keep their business hours updated on their own website – or have their opening hours during holidays displayed prominently. Over Easter, I had to visit a B and Q to see if it was open – because there was no indication on the website whether it was or it wasn’t. And of course, because I’d decided to make the effort to physically go there and check… it was shut.
So be clear about when your premises and/or phone lines are open, and make the information easy to find.
Most professional sites use ‘top navigation’ these days – i.e. they have a menu or navigation bar at the top featuring the main pages of the website. Less important or ancillary pages should be accessible through drop-down menus from this main navigation bar.
A blog helps you interact with potential customers and has the potential to entertain, inform and show a human side. Think about what their interests might be and base blog posts around these areas, including topics related to your business or area of expertise.
If you offer Indian Head Massage, for instance, your clients might like blog posts on things as diverse as aromatherapy oils, hair care, scalp conditions, causes of neck ache and a whole host of conventional and alternative treatments. Also, of course, your blog gives you a platform to deliver news of your latest offers and services.
A Search Tool
The internet is far from new and there’s no excuse, these days, for a website that you can’t search for the information you want. If I land on a website that doesn’t have the courtesy to include a search tool, I tend to presume that the site owner doesn’t want me to find what I’m looking for – or my custom or interest, either – so I click away before you can say ‘search bar’.
I’m not alone in finding this frustrating, so if you don’t want to frustrate potential clients and interested parties – slap up a search tool!
Testimonials allow you to show off your business a little, letting potential customers know about its prowess and reputation without seeming arrogant (because they are your clients’ words, not yours!). They give customers confidence in your business’s services, standards and reliability, too.
Depending on your type of business, you may have pages dedicated to explaining things such as delivery, postage charges and your returns policy.
However clear your information is, though, customers are bound to have questions – any may find it easier to find answers on the FAQ page rather than trawling your website for the information.
If you find it hard to envisage what potential customers may want to know, look at the FAQ pages on other sites, take note of questions asked by your existing customers, and interact with your target audience on social media for inspiration.
This security feature can prevent a lot of spam and automated messages that your website can be open to via a contact form, blog comments or anywhere on your site where you allow interaction or the input of email addresses to your website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Ensure your pages and text contain tags and phrases that your customers might search for – and that search engines will find and recognise easily. Put yourself in a potential client’s shoes; what might they be searching for? You may think your holiday cottages are great value, but will a customer searching for ‘cheap holidays Lake District’ find your site?
If you’re not sure how to go about optimising your site, and need a professional SEO service, we recommend taking a visit to our friends over at Team Organic
Of course, there are many more features and tweaks that could improve your website and make it shine, but by ensuring your site includes all of the features above, you’ll have made an excellent start on the journey to perfection!