I heard an expert in a media and creatives conference once say this, “Your website is like your organisation’s business card to the entire world. With one visit, people can decide whether they want to trust you or not, and trust is important. You need to have their trust before you can even get them to listen to you.” That speaker finally got their attention.
The digital age excludes no one. We are already here, no matter our awareness of this fact. And innovations in the internet and world wide web covers all industries and sectors and affects the big-wig players of society to the very individual on the other side of the screen, who decides to click or to exit, to buy or to ignore, to trust or to forego.
Websites, then, should not be an afterthought, especially for those who are starting their businesses. If done correctly, a website can be an investment that helps you grow and make money or an expense down the drain. It should be more than just your company’s business card or brochure. Brochures, even the good ones, get ignored eventually, gather dust somewhere, or get thrown out. You do not want your website to be ignored or thrown out. Your website should convert to sales and happy, satisfied customers, long-term but in real-time. So how do you make a good business website?
Purpose of Your Website: Connect, Communicate and Convert
According to statistics gathered by bluecorona.com, “93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 47% of people click on one of the first three listings (SEJ, 2016).” Their research also noted that 19% of small businesses fail because they were outcompeted. So you need to make sure you get found online and connect with people so you can communicate to and eventually convert them from visitors to valued customers. Conversion should be a crucial element in the design of your website. Any communication model is incomplete without feedback, and conversion rates through sales and subscriptions are your target feedback.
I have gathered these steps on how you can make outstanding websites that generate traffic and lead to better business. A warning, though, because these steps may keep that phone ringing, your emails surging, and your business booming. A good website can level the playing field for the big industry players and the SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises). So, whether you own a big corporation or a small business, this one is for you.
1 – Your Goals in Front of You
Know what you want for your website and the results you need it to deliver. Knowing your goals makes for more solid strategies. It helps you decide on your niche, name, logo, title and tagline. It streamlines the process of building the website and minimises all the back-and-forth communication and endless revisions with your web designers.
If you are an owner of a start-up or small business and you are making the page by yourself, know the current trends in your niche and how to design for that market. Set realistic goals that run parallel to those trends and your capabilities as a small business to keep up. Purchase your domain because it is worth the investment. Your domain name, which is your brand name, should be simple, has a catch to it that can be remembered easily, and SEO-friendly (no dashes, special characters, unusual spelling, and the like).
The homepage also has a straightforward, no-nonsense call to action, “Try it Free for 30 Days.” The software has grown to 10 million users worldwide despite the expensive monthly costs after the free trial. It just took them 30 days to convert those leads. That conversion rate makes their dominance in that niche even more apparent.
2 – Good, Intuitive Design
Designers forever face the challenge of finding that sweet spot where form and function meet.
In terms of design usability, you cannot fuss about the frills and forget the essentials of the web design. On your homepage, it should be clear who you are, what you do, and why visitors should stay. It’s like a firm handshake of introduction with your visitors. You need to grab their attention, or they exit your site without making any valuable connection.
Functional web design should be pleasing, user-friendly, with precise navigation controls, easy-to-find contact information and simplified options for visitors. Providing your visitors with fewer options attracts them more to linger your website. Make your homepage inviting and telling of your story right away, with clear guides where they should go next, should they want to learn more.
When it comes to design aesthetics, remember that we are in a digital age that is continually changing and upgrading itself. See the latest design trends, not so you can copy and look like everyone else, but so you can create a strategy in how to stand out but remain relevant.
The website GetResponse gets it right. They make you self-check immediately if you have a problem with a bottleneck in your marketing machine because that’s the first thing you see. They clearly state their promise—help you solve your marketing woes. Even their domain carries that promise—get response—that simple.
FreshBooks also has a simple design that sends their message loud and clear—if you are a non accountant, they can do the accounting for you. The homepage “easy to consume.” It “makes it clear what the company wants you to convert on the moment you arrive,” according to HubSpot Designers.
3 – Compelling Call to Action (CTA)
Your website’s visitors will not convert to loyal customers just like that. You need to walk them through this process, and it begins with a compelling Call-to-Action or CTA. Avoid confusing or complicated words. “Find out More” is still much better than, say “Still Curious?” The first one gives your visitors a precise scenario of what happens when they click that button—they will find out more. Unlike the second label, which leads to more questions than answers like, “Still curious about what?” Frank instructions like “Click Here,” “Buy Now,” “Get the Discount,” even “Watch Our Story,” actually drive people to buy more than indirect CTA. If no action or activity’s happening, then change the call. Change what you are saying. Strengthen that CTA to convert those leads into sales today.
Dropbox (Consumer) focuses on one CTA on their homepage, “Sign Up.” They provide a secondary option if users are not yet ready to do so, which says, “Learn More.” It also describes its benefits into bite-sized nuggets of the information below its CTA so that the users won’t miss it. How do we know it is hard to miss? 500 million customers in 2018 did not miss it. Now that’s compelling. Click here now to view Dropbox.
4 – The story “About Us” (The Story Page)
Even on a digital platform, consumers behave similarly—they mostly operate on a trust basis. Trust is a pillar for good business, any business, whether done face-to-face or through the internet. A simple link to your company’s story—how you started and why you do what you do—gives fuel to your visitor’s confidence in your website and brand. Personal stories always add a touch of endearment when you are writing or speaking in public.
It gives your audience an idea that you are a credible source for a particular topic or field because of your story. Make your “About Us” page a short and straightforward story that will keep them glued to your website and encouraged to hear further what you want to say and consider the product or service you are offering.
5 – Contacts Page
Not all websites give attention to the contacts page, but any website must prioritise this part of their homepage. Majority of visitors will NOT be patient enough to wander around your page to find out how they can reach you. Aside from a contacts page, you also need to have your contact information readily visible on every page your visitor will click, be it a telephone number or a way to chat with you instantly from whatever page they are browsing.
On your homepage, it could be at the top left or right corner where it’s easy to see, and in the footer or sidebar on the other pages. Include details like phone number, email, mobile phone, toll-free hotlines and a contact form, and your complete address with map locator. Providing your customers and visitors several ways to keep in touch builds your credibility even more.
6 – SEO-Friendly Content that Delivers
Great-looking websites that are meaningful, trust-worthy, and well-designed are of great substance. But what creates that substance for a website? It is great content, one that’s “alive.” An excerpt from Matthew MacDonald’s book, “Creating a Website,” says this about the web: “The Web constantly changes. Today’s Web isn’t the same as last year’s—or even the Web of 15 seconds ago. The best websites are always improving. When a website stops changing, it’s on life support.”
Beyond website-creation is providing content is relevant, in sync with consumer demands, and vibrant. It needs to maintain that freshness no matter how long the website has been running. Update articles, so they remain spot on with the changing audience and growing market trends. MacDonald even compares stagnant sites with television channels that have no new content and show reruns again and again.
Do your users and visitors justice by making sure that every time they show up on your website, they see something new.
That’s how you keep your content alive.
Majority of websites are too focused on the solutions and services they bring, without even asking, “what are the questions my target market is asking based on the problems they have, and how can I be part of the answer?” So even if you ram a thousand keywords in your content, but lack the answers to the queries of your target market is making, you will not maximise the full potential of your website.
Grammarly is now widely used as an AI-powered writing assistant by 6.9 million daily users for its superbly accurate services such as grammar correction and plagiarism checker. Its homepage also has a user-friendly and user-intuitive interface with a simple, bold design, clear text, and focused CTA.
They also have several blogs within their website to help their daily users become better, more responsible writers. So the website is more than providing premium service and generating sales but also assisting the Grammarly community to become better writers and communicators.
7 – Elements That Build Trust (Social Proof and Testimonials)
Testimonials are ingredients for trust among your visitors that your website needs to have. Even dominant, global brands regularly update their testimonials to maintain their credibility among the community. When visitors see that your other customers and other industry experts are putting in a good word for you, they will feel safer to put their trust in you as well.
Also, include your social media links on every page of your website. Be on multiple social media platforms to make it more engaging for the different people who view your site. Include links to your accounts in social media accounts and. Include the logos of your prominent clients and even how many people follow you on social media, because if no one is following you, then these potential customers will not feel at ease following you.
That goes to show that aside from your website, you should also pay attention to your social media sites, updating them regularly with content that echoes what your website is saying. Be as visible as you can, so it’s easier for potential visitors and clients to find you.
Cybersecurity threats can be quite a nightmare. Having your online information hijacked could cost you money, sensitive data, and worse, customers. You need to be a step ahead in terms of having a trustworthy and secure website. Use reliable web-hosting companies and have a robust content management system. BlueHost and GoDaddy are popular, go-to, web hosts for small business owners building their company websites. Get yourself protected as well with software that offers total protection against cyberattacks.
10 – Marketing Strategies, Metrics and Reviews
Beyond design and functionality, your website, representing your business, must be incorporated in your marketing strategy. There are a lot of strategies available nowadays to monetise your website and its app. You have options like in-app advertising and purchase, affiliate marketing, SEO, email marketing, and more. Choose the best one that suits your business and target market.
Monitor your website’s performance regularly so you know if your website is performing the way it should be, not just turning heads but converting leads into sales. WhataGraph aids website owners and developers with performance metrics to show how your account and campaigns worked. They offer vibrant templates for visualisation of the data, with automated options for sharing daily, weekly, and monthly client reporting.
There are many tools available to business owners now to make their websites well-designed and performing excellently. Make your website represent you the best way possible. If you have a great running business, all the more that should translate to your webpage.
If you are a small business owner breaking into the market and competing with established businesses, all the more that you pour investment and ingenuity in making, managing, and monitoring your website. A good website can make or break a business. A good website levels the playing field for businesses big and small. A website is not just a bandwagon to ride on, but a wave of the future you need to catch right now.
John Ocampos is an Opera Singer by profession and a member of the Philippine Tenors. Ever since, Digital Marketing has always been his forte. He is the Founder of SEO-Guru, and the Managing Director of Tech Hacker. John is also the Strategic SEO and Influencer Marketing Manager of Softvire Australia – the leading software eCommerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand.