For a lot of small businesses, having an active web presence is vital to survival. More and more potential customers are taking their business online, and because of this your business/company website has to be current and appealing to the visitors. You thought about it and you decide it’s time to redesign your website. I’m going to share 21 ideas for your new website that will give you the most bang for your hard earned buck. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Set realistic goals. In order to end up with a great website, you need to start with a set of smart goals that you’d like to achieve. Ask yourself, why do I need a website, or, why am I redesigning my website. What will a successful outcome look like. Write these goals down and refer to them frequently during this process.
2. Review competitor websites. Yes, look at and take note of your competitors’ websites. The simple reason for this is that you want to outdo your competition and by reviewing their websites you’ll be able to see areas that you can improve on and gain an edge. When looking at competitors’ websites, resist the urge to copy their design, page-by-page. It’ll only make you look like a knock-off from the original and no one likes a knock-off.
3. Prepare authentic testimonials. If you look at a lot of testimonials online, they all sound the same, which makes it harder for visitors to trust. Instead of lame testimonials like, “Joe did a great job!”, ask your customers/clients to write you more specific testimonials. It’ll be more helpful to prospective clients to learn that you completed a job a week before the due date than just being “awesome” or “great contractor”. This testimonial below has all the elements.
4. Define clear navigation. One of the major frustrations for users online is how difficult it is to find information on business sites. This can be an opportunity for you if you can simplify navigation throughout your website. Make it easier to find contact information, forms, and other important information. Eliminate unnecessary pages where possible and offer instructions along the way.
5. Keep titles short and clear. Titles form an informal navigation throughout the website so make sure they’re short and descriptive. In may cases, these are the only pieces of content that users will read until they find what they’re looking for, if they do.
6. Create an intro video and add to home page/landing page. Adding a video to your website homepage has been shown to increase conversion by up to 4 times. The simple reason is that you communicate more in a short video than you would by just text. When users visit your website, they may not have time to stop and read pages of text but could watch the video. When you decide to make a video, keep is short and interesting to increase the chances of the video being viewed in full.
7. Make your website mobile friendly. According to recent polls, over 37% of Internet users in the U.S. accessed via a mobile phone. Make sure that your website looks good on mobile devices. To ensure that your website is mobile friendly, check with the website designer/developer that the website is being built by responsive technology, which is the latest and best way to develop for multiple screens.
8. Track website visitors with Google Analytics. When you have a website, the most important information to know is who your visitors are? This information can be captured by a number of leading software and one such software is Google Analytics. Besides knowing who’s visiting your website, you’ll be able to learn their geographical location, what pages they looked at and how long they stayed on your website. So set this up when you’re redesigning your website so that you don’t miss any piece of data.
9. Add a blog. By now you’ve probably heard that having a blog on your website can have search engine benefits. However, if you don’t commit to adding articles in the future it will not look good to visitors. So in addition to adding a blog, commit to adding articles on a regular basis. You can do it weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. Just make sure you are consistent.
10. Display contact and location information prominently. Not only will users appreciate not spending time digging for your phone number, search engines will use this information to determine the area you serve and present the information to users in your area searching for your type of business.
11. Make it easier to fill out forms. If you require users to fill out forms, please make it easier for them. Handle errors gracefully. Provide users with helpful hints to ensure that they only need to fill the form once. The form below is clean and clear making it easier to fill out.
12. Offer free shipping, where possible. When selling products online, a major hold back for users is not being able to calculate a shipping cost. If you offer free shipping, you may be able to increase conversion considerable because you have addressed a major pain for the customer.
13. Display your professional expertise and associations. In a faceless environment, users have to quickly eliminate options in order to make a decision. So for you to build trust, list prominently your credentials, awards, and associations. If you belong to BBB (Better Business Bureau) or Chamber of Commerce it means that you’ve passed some validation and can be trusted, and hopefully you can.
14. Use fonts correctly. Fonts are the least thought of elements of web design, yet they present the most important thing of the web: content. First, apply fonts uniformly across your website. Avoid ALL CAPS just because you want to get attention. With Google Fonts, you can now add custom fonts to your website and make it more memorable.
15. Set the tone with the right color combination. There’s a lot to say about color, but the golden rule is to use a maximum of 3 – 4 colors in addition to black and white. Of course if the nature of your business requires the use of more colors then you can use them. Use color to set the tone for your website so ask yourself, what tone do I want to set on my website?
16. List hours of operation. If you operate an office or store where customer and clients and meet you then it’s great to post your hours of operation on your website. This will not only be useful to your customers, but you’ll also cut down on the number of calls from people who just want to know when you’re open.
17. Use quality photos and graphics. Plan to have great quality photos and graphics because they say a lot about your attention to details. Hire a professional photographer to take staff photos and get a graphic designer to create nice graphics. If you have a smaller budget, consider hiring student photographer or graphic designer to do the job.
18. Revise the text on pages. When redesigning your website, it’s a good time to write new content on pages. Nothing turns off visitors on a website faster than out dated content. Out dated content may also convey the message that you’re no longer in business. Avoid industry specific jargon that may not be clear to your audience.
19. Avoid cheap hosting. Where you choose to host your website can impact the performance of your website. Slow web servers can turn away prospective customers/clients because they got tired of waiting for your website to load. Some great hosting companies that I’d recommend are Blue Host and Rackspace.
20. Test your website on all major browsers. Because of the differences in how browsers display websites, it’s a good idea to check your website on these browsers to make sure that users will have a great experience viewing your website from whichever browser they use.
21. Commit to continuous progress. Lastly but not least, commit to working on your website frequently. In the past you could get away with not updating your website for long periods of time but today you have to update your website frequently in order for search engines to have something to index. Some elements that you can update include adding testimonials, writing articles, experimenting with text variations, and adding rich media.