A Checklist for Small Business Websites
If you have a business, you must have a website. It is as simple as that. The difficulty is in knowing which features to include so the site will professionally represent your company and products or services and help you make money. There are exceptions to rules but the odds are that your business should have every single one of these features.
- Home page. This page should roll out the welcome mat to prospects and customers. Include basic info on what you can do or problems you can solve for your customers. You should also indicate what they can find on the site.
- Essential information. This will change based on your business but, if you are a restaurant, include a menu. If you have a retail location, include directions. If you design websites, provide links to examples of your work. Put yourself in the shoes of someone visiting your site and include the details they need.
- Products/services. It is useful to have a separate page for each product/service and write as much detail about each as you can. Start with a brief summary. Then provide whatever additional details are needed. Visitors should get the information to make decisions and it should be presented with the most important on top and in descending order.
- Contact us. According to BIA/Kelsey, 66% of small- to medium-sized business websites in the U.S. don’t have a form for potential customers to submit, 60% don’t have a contact number on their home pages and 75% don’t list an email address. Place details on how to reach you in as many places as possible. You should have a Contact Us page but also phone numbers and email addresses on every page—whether in the header or footer. Make it easy for customers to contact you. If you have online scheduling, add a “Schedule Now” button. Something important to remember is that you should not include email addresses or phone numbers as parts of images. They should be clickable from the site to place the call or send the email quickly and conveniently. Another tip, don’t use a Gmail or AOL email address for your website email. Use Google Apps to set up custom email addresses through Gmail. It is free for up to ten email addresses.
- About us. You can use this page to talk about your company and why prospects should purchase from you. Describe the benefits to customers in their language not industry jargon (i.e., if you are a massage therapist, refer to a shoulder blade, not a scapula). You can provide additional facts such as hours of operation, customer service hours, your mission, recent projects, awards, directions to your location, photos of employees, awards, association memberships and certifications. Be personable and likeable.
- Photos. Use clear and friendly photos of you, your products, your location or whatever makes sense for your business.
- Pricing. If you can, provide pricing or at least a range to encourage prospects to inquire further.
- Clear navigation. Place menus where they make sense and make links large enough to actually be clicked. Skip the jargon in your navigation and keep terminology simple. For example, use easy to understand, logical names for the pages of your website, such as “About Us”, “Contact Us”, “Portfolio”, etc.
- Search. The faster you can help prospects find what they are looking for, the more likely you will get them to take action. Search my website features allow them to look through your entire site quickly.
- Blog. You might not update your website daily, weekly or monthly but you can publish blog posts one or more times per week, allowing you to respond to current events, announce developments and provide education. And the great news is that most blogs don’t need you to be a technical expert.
- Events calendar. Talk about where you will be demonstrating your products, exhibiting at trade shows, hosting tastings, releasing new items, etc.
- Testimonials or reviews. You should always be requesting testimonials and probing customers for details on their experience with your company. Part of the same process is asking for permission to publish on your website. You want to have a continuous stream of good reviews and share them along with contact details.
- Frequently-asked questions. If there are standard issues brought to you customer service team, address them on your website and you might save a considerable amount of time (you could also write blog posts to cover these topics). Think about meeting prospects’ objections as well to make it easier for you and your sales team to close deals.
- Free content. Establish a resources page and offer industry-related articles, PDFs, white papers, tip sheets, checklists, instructions and even eBooks. You’ll build credibility and solve problems for visitors.
- Security. If you sell online, you should secure your site with an SSL certificate. This will encrypt communications between you and your customers to product important information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. This will address any fears of the customers. You can get a certificate from VeriSign, TrustE, Entrust and GeoTrust.
- Social Media. Promote your presence on social media—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, YouTube— and integrate these platforms into your website to improve your presence and build your following. If you actively maintain your content, you will be visible and engaging to prospects.
- Calls to action. As a small business, this is one of the most important features to have. Once people have found your website, you have to convince them to do business with you. Calls to action can include: purchasing, making appointments, requesting more info, signing up for newsletters, filling out contact forms and more.
When you include important features like these on your website, you make it easier for prospects to make an informed decision about you and your company and to buy.