You have worked hard to build your business, establish a good reputation, and produce a good product or service.  The next order of the day is to promote your business, but what’s the best way to go? While print, radio and TV ads are traditional ways to go, they can be costly, time consuming and, nowadays, could be a limited marketing strategy, depending on who you are trying to attract and their most consistent form of media digested.  In order to attract the largest amount of new customers and clients, you need a good website design to help promote your business. We have gathered 18 of the most important things for you to know and do in order to make your website successful, and therefore your business successful! Why only 18, you say?  Because we crammed so much great content into the first 18 action items that the last 2 weren’t needed!

  1. Be Clear: First and foremost, you want your website to deliver a clear message about your business:  WHO you are, WHAT your business does/produces/sells, HOW you make things happen (your integrity, your process), WHERE your goods/services are available (coverage areas, retail locations), WHY they should use your business above others (testimonials, guarantees).  When someone is looking for a new goods or services provider, they want to feel confident about what they are getting and who they are working with.

 

  1. Enhance your clear message with great design:
  • High quality photos
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • Concise, scan-able text – most people scan reading material now, so make sure the words you use grab the reader’s attention; high quality content is content that readers WANT to read, as well as being easy to find with a search engine!
  • Keep your color schemes simple – not too many colors, nor a lot of color changes throughout the site
  • Maintain a consistent design throughout the site
  • Use a layout that will appeal to YOUR customer base – a teen clothing store and a hardware store will have a different clientele, so they need to have a different look on your website
  • If you have a great web designer or easy to use plug-and-play web designing software , use interactive materials – videos, blog posts, things that will draw the reader in more
  • If you DON’T have a great web designer on staff, consider hiring outside the company. Remember, your web presence is vital in today’s fast paced online world; this may be one of the best capital investments you make!
  • A Caveat: Beware the slider!  While this presentation of images looks interesting to you, it can be confusing to the visitor, or present them with too much visual stimulation, which prevents them from delving farther into your site.  From a SEO standpoint, sliders actually push your content down, which can prevent people from seeing what you really want them to see immediately on your site.  As a final warning, sliders can slow down your site loading, which can negatively impact your SEO and conversion rate.  No sliders!

 

  1. About Us Page: While this may seem like just another page to consider for your design, contact info or message, the real deal on the “About Us” page goes way deeper than that.  This is your place to make people like you, to want to learn from you or purchase things from you or want to contact you.  This is your opportunity to connect to people you don’t know on a deeper level by telling your story of how you got to where you are, your beliefs about your company and what it offers, and to help them see that you, too, are a person behind a business.  Choose your words wisely, my friends, this is a deceptively important page!

 

  1. Content Marketing: Another highly valuable portion of web design, content marketing will pervade your whole web site, from the opening page to the final contact page.  It is defined as “… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”  Content marketing is more than just pitching your wares to your customers – it is the simple, elegant way to present now-based solutions to their needs with your product or services.  More and more big companies are using content marketing, why wait?

 

 

  1. Make it EASY: Keep your website simple, clean and well organized.  Limit your main menu items, and sub-categorize other items behind them.  Make it easy for the user to delve into your site by leading them through promo boxes.  Finally, make sure your contact info is easy to find.

 

  1. Make your website “sticky”: and we don’t mean with jam!  A “sticky” site is one that makes the viewer want to click deeper into your site. A successful website doesn’t just attract the one time visitor hit; the content motivates the user to click deeper and deeper into your site!

 

  1. Establish credibility: Word of mouth advertising is still one of the best ways to strike deep into the heart of a consumer, hands down.  Give your website a boost with customer testimonials and positive news articles documenting your wares/services.  Again, make sure they are easy to read, and not too hokey!

 

  1. Social media links: Nowadays it is imperative to have a multi-pronged social media presence, so join the flow! Drive traffic to your site through social media, and include your social media links anywhere your contact information is presented. Use your website link on social media posts to keep readers coming back to your site for the latest news.

 

 

  1. Call to Action: What is the result you want from traffic to your website – do you want visitors to leave their contact info, sign up for emails, call you…what do YOU want from your clients?   Encouraging feedback from your visitors is a simple way to track traffic (see #13), but you have to give them a reason to leave their information.  Utilize monthly drawings, freebies and the like to encourage people to not only visit your site, but to leave their thumbprint on it!

 

  1. Be RESPONSIVE: Turn over time in responding to site visitors is not an automated issue, so make sure that you have a quick response time to requests for information, sales, and general contact requests.  Having a call to action for the consumer is only as good as the response time involved – don’t do a ton of work building a good site if you cannot have the follow through to respond to requests!

 

  1. Terms of Business/Return Policy: If you are making sales on your site, it is always good business to state up front your return policy for products sold that they do not like or are broken.  Include how funds will be handled – will it be a return to their original payment method, or will it be a coupon with your company?  Perhaps you want to offer a guarantee, such as a 14 day return with no questions, which will engender even more trust in your company.  The more reassuring you are about your products and your commitment to quality and customer happiness, the more certain the visitor will be about purchasing from you.

 

  1. Include a Blog, video blog, or other recurring articles: Recurring events such as blogs, video blogs or even guest blogs are a great way to draw traffic to your site.  Blogs can give visitors information on your services, your thoughts and opinions, and even a bit of a window into your world.  Video blogs are wonderful if you are not camera shy, but keep it short, fresh, and informational – a little bit of humor can help, too!  Guest blogs are blogs from someone in your industry, someone who has used your product/services and their feedback, or someone who has been affected positively from your business.  They can be a great addition to an already successful website, as they draw visitors not only from their searches for your particular business, your key words or your product, but you will draw different visitors from the guest blogger’s name!  One caveat with any kind of blogging – if it is not a consistently recurring item, hold off – blogging draws attention from the repetition of the readers, so if you can’t keep it regular you may hear more crickets…than click-its!

 

  1. Be Desktop AND Mobile friendly: More and more website searches are coming from mobile phones.  While this could mean more searches for you, no matter what time of day or where the potential visitor is, your site needs to look good in both a mobile search format AND a desktop format to keep people’s interest and keep them clicking back on you!

 

  1. Utilize good SEO: It doesn’t matter how wonderful your website is if it can’t be found on the internet. The answer? Good SEO.  So what IS SEO?  It stands for Search Engine Optimization – the process by which you gain traffic from free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines.  All major search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users.  Page loading speed, keyword phrases, SEO aimed headlines and optimizing your key words are all a good start to improving your visibility on the web.  Note that there are two main types of SEO, On-Page and Off-Page – make sure to optimize them both, but don’t forget about Local SEO as well.  Not so sure about it all?  There are great companies that specialize in SEO improvements; this may be a good capital investment for your company.

 

  1. Generate alternate income with your site: Online advertising is a great way to create an alternate income stream for your site, by allowing other business (usually ancillary businesses to yours) to do some advertising on your site. Be cautious – make sure that the alternate income stream doesn’t become a bath to your visitors.  When first time visitors get bombarded with pop-ups, banners and streaming ads, they may never come back to your site.  Judge wisely how much additional advertising you want to do, and make sure that the stream doesn’t overwhelm YOUR flow.

 

  1. Measure your traffic: Use easily available web analytics tools to help track your site visitors’ habits as they scroll through your pages. Tracking these patterns helps you to see what is working on your site and what is not, and can give you great insight into your visitors searching, viewing and purchasing habits.

 

  1. Be Sure, use good Website Security: If you plan on making sales, taking deposits for seminars, or in any other way needing to receive funds from your site visitors on your web site, then you need to implement good website security.  Making sure your website is secured and well protected can make your business succeed by protecting visitors’ and clients’ data from unauthorized people reading, accessing and potentially using sensitive data that was trusted to you.    Having SSL certification will ensure that the connection between your website and your visitor in encrypted, and no one else can access the information.  This is so important that Google has stated that the Chrome browser has started to label websites that are not implementing SSL certification as dangerous, leaving visitors up to their own comfort levels to proceed with that site or not.  Don’t be insecure; get SSL to boost your visitors trust in your business even more!
  2. Website Protection: While we are discussing the security front, always make sure that YOUR website is protected from internet vandals – no one wants to get the message that their hard won website has been hacked.  Always keep website software up to date, and make sure plug ins are up to date, so as not to leave any back doors open for prying internet eyes.  Know what security measures your host provides as part of their hosting service, and have a secure website firewall in place to defend your site against most of the common threats out there.

Are you excited?  Are you exhausted?  Either way, you now have a great template from which you can start to build the website of your dreams.  Take it one step at a time, explore your options, and feel great about the site you are putting out there BEFORE you make it public.  We hope you enjoyed this article, and wish you the best of success with your website!

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