7 key elements to an effective website (for small business)

Kevin Getch

Leveraging your website and other web technology allows you to engage a much broader customer base. But nearly just as important, you can engage that customer base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Think of it as a virtual employee that never sleeps.

Simply having a website doesn’t guarantee positive results. You only get out of it what you put into it, which means you need to make sure you understand the keys to building and maintaining an effective website. Here are seven primary considerations:

1. Effective design
Your website’s design is likely the first impression visitors will process in their mind. It gives your user a feeling (good, bad, or indifferent) about your business. The colors, images, logo, text and how they are laid out have a conscious and subconscious impact on your potential customers.
If your website is designed well, your company will be seen as an authority in your industry. If not, your business may not come across as trustworthy, or may not convey the value they are looking for.

2. Ensure optimal user experience
You already know that it’s imperative to treat your customers well. That also applies to their experience on your website. If user experience is not a priority, you’re either turning back potential customers or making it more difficult for them to become paying customers.
So, what is this thing called user experience that you need to provide? For starters, it means you need to make sure your website load time is fast. The elements of your web pages need to be laid out intuitively, meaning it’s not difficult for users to locate the information they are looking for, which generally starts with how your site’s navigation is arranged.

3. Optimize your site for search engines
You may have the most elegant and beautiful website on the planet. It may be arranged in such a way to ensure an amazing user experience. But if people can’t find it in the search engines, you have a work of art that is not being appreciated.

4. Write engaging and informative content
The content on your website is important for many reasons. Broadly speaking, it not only communicates your message to users, but is also a factor in how search engines rank the value of your website.

5. Mobile users are growing (don’t ignore them)
The mobile age is upon us. In fact, web traffic from mobile devices is projected to surpass desktop and laptop traffic this year. With that in mind, if you don’t have a website built to accommodate mobile users, you’re ignoring what will soon be the majority of web users.
Responsive website design makes sure that your website will be rendered correctly and consistently across the different devices. If ignored, your site will likely look like a mess when pulled up on smartphones or tablets.

6. Make sharing your site easy
We live in the social media age. As such, it’s important to make sure your site’s visitors have the ability share your content with others. This mean displaying social icons that link to your social profiles and social sharing icons on your blog content.

7. Make doing business with you easy
Improving your website design, messaging and functionality should result in a higher number of people taking a desired action on your site. This is called conversion optimization. Don’t require someone to fill out 10 fields on a contact form when you only need four (name, email, phone, message). Trust factors also improve your conversion rate. That could mean displaying a Better Business Bureau logo and logos from organizations in your industry. This all tells your potential customer that you aren’t a fly-by-night-company, and that you have a track record of trust and expertise in your field.

Building and launching an effective website takes so much more than simply throwing something up on the web and sitting back and waiting for the new business to flow in. It takes a carefully implemented strategy with these considerations, and others. The beauty is, if you put your best foot forward and you aren’t seeing the desired results, the Internet allows for constant evolution and changes until you see the results you are looking for.

Kevin Getch is the president of Webfor, a Vancouver-based a web design and SEO firm. He can be reached at 360.747.7794.

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