So, you need a website for your small business. With site-building tools becoming more and more accessible, this is becoming a necessity.
But with so many competing sites on the internet, how do you make yours stand out?
Here are the top 5 website features that you need in order to remain competitive.
Most of these factors consist of often-overlooked features which work in the background of a site, and whilst you may not recognise their benefits when using a site, you definitely notice their absence.
A quality site host, along with reliable technical support is invaluable. Without it, customers will instantly look elsewhere, amid issues such as a slow, poorly optimised, or even a fundamentally broken site. Decent technical support is key to retaining your existing customer base.
If your site is going to host a transaction, no matter how small, you’ll need to make sure you’re protected. Secure a SSL certificate, and communications between yourself and clients will be protected through encryption.
If a site doesn’t have certified protection, consumers can simply go to a competitor that does. Customers are always cautious when it comes to sensitive, personal information, so make sure that you reassure them, and make transactions as quick and safe as possible: VeriSign, TrustE, Entrust and GeoTrust are all viable options.
It’s impossible to include all necessary information on your site, without your digital space becoming a scrambled, incoherent and unreadable mess. But on the other hand, a site with no information whatsoever will leave visitors ill-informed and potentially confused – How do you find a sensible medium between the two?
While incredibly elementary, a simple FAQ section can offer quick, concise solutions to any problems. This will also free up your time, and your inbox, from customers who offer feedback and ask for advice. Of course, this will work excellently with an intuitively designed website.
This is another example of people often neglecting the basics of site features. A site for a restaurant shouldn’t skip on information that is crucial to that particular business, like a menu, contact details, opening times and directions.
Spend time on the necessities, rather than focusing on a comprehensive ‘About Us’ page which will only witness a fraction of your overall traffic. Make your information bite-sized, so it’s short, memorable and easy to digest.
Depending on the business, this information may change – eCommerce sites need good quality images and easy navigation, whereas service-focused businesses may focus more on reviews, testimonials and social media links.
Also, how easy is it to contact the site, and do you have suitable alternatives in place? It’s always best to have three varied points of contact, such as a phone number, an email address, and a social media page, just in case a customer avoids certain means of communication.
A Seamless User Experience
Of course, a website should be aesthetically pleasing, but its design needs to be logical and intuitive. Mock up a wireframe map of your site, so you can note how accessible certain pages are. This will also help your SEO efforts, too. Being unnecessarily cryptic or cluttered will be an instant excuse for users to go elsewhere. What do your customers want, and how easy is it for them to get there?