Follow these six very easy steps towards having a successful website:
A website that is simple, yet concise will definitely make your life a whole lot easier and your potential customers will appreciate not having to search for information.
If you are just about ready to launch your website, test it out with friends and family first. Let them tell you if it’s easy to understand, navigate, find information, etc. Fresh eyes can offer valuable insight and possible suggestions that will make your site understandable and user-friendly.
It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.
Please contact us when you are ready to design or redesign your small business website.
Your website is the small business owner’s most powerful tool. A concise, well-designed website could make a world of difference in whether a potential client or customer chooses to stay on your site, peruse, and purchase instead of leaving and visiting a competitor’s page.
Whether you choose to hire a professional website designer or do it yourself, you will want to know the following tips to ensure your website looks fabulous and accomplishes its purpose.
Keep the following tips at the forefront when thinking about designing or re-creating your small business website:
This is what identifies you and your company throughout your website. Brand identity will allow your website to look professional and inspire confidence with your potential customers. Intelligent branding and a logo that is appealing and placed prominently on your website will make you look much bigger in the cyber world than anywhere else.
Using the same logo on all of your marketing material, other printed material and communications will create a familiar and consistent brand.
It has been proven over the years – people do not like websites that require too much clicking just to find one thing or too much clutter on the page. They want to see a well-organized, user-friendly site that they can get on, find what they want, order and get off.
3. Transparency – Contact Information | Can your viewers find your contact information quickly and easily without clicking several times? Put your quick contact info in the upper right hand corner of every page of your website. Have a link to your full contact page on your home page and wherever appropriate on other pages.
4. Business Information | What is your small business all about? Viewers want to know this instantly on your home page. Make it very easy for them to find other answers, such as pricing, ordering, etc.
5. Navigability – Site Map | Very important to have a site map listing all of the pages a viewer can click on to find out further information. Be sure this is updated whenever you add or delete a page.
6. Search Function | Great idea to have a search button on your home page where potential customers can search your site easily to find what they are looking for without having to peruse every page of your site. This may even help those potential customers from looking elsewhere if they can’t find it quickly and easily on your site.
7. Icons and Navigation | For your small business, it is best to go with standard web icons and navigation rather than having a funky layout.
8. Photos | Use professional photos if you have products you are trying to sell. You want them to look as beautiful as possible and sometimes a smartphone photo doesn’t always cut it. Remember, the image will be the first and only thing they see before deciding to buy something or not.
9. Content | Of course, you will want to have the most interesting and informative content for your viewers visiting your site, especially for the first time. This may be their first impression of your business. However, always, always make sure your website is current, especially if you have time-sensitive information. Nothing turns off a potential customer more than seeing a website that is out of date or a deadline date that has long passed. You will also want a call-to-action. Meaning, ensure your content is encouraging your customers to take action.
10. Interactive Content | If your small business depends on interaction with viewers, such as taking a survey, reviews, etc., please ensure you can take the time to monitor those communications on your site, such as, being able to approve a review before it’s posted in order to avoid possible abuse.
That’s it. Hope these tips have stirred your creative juices in thinking about how you want to present your small business website to the world.
If you need assistance in designing a small business website or even a redesign of your DIY website, we can help. Contact us and we’ll make it happen!
by Lisa Wirthman. Lisa is a freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, consider this: one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words, according to a report by Forrester Research.
Videos are great for concentrating large amounts of information into an easy-to-understand message. It's such a popular medium that YouTube now has 4 billion daily video views, with about 60 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute.
Video marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach online viewers. In fact, consumers who view a video are 174% more likely to purchase a product, reports Retail Touchpoints. With statistics like these, why wait? Here are four video marketing tips to help you incorporate video into your website.
Keep it Short
You have just eight seconds to capture viewers' attention –- less than the attention span of a goldfish -- so make those seconds count. Get to the point quickly with a specific message that will help you reach your target viewers before they tune out.
As a general rule, it's helpful to keep all videos under three minutes to ensure that you don't lose viewers before you have a chance to complete your pitch, advises Vidyard CEO Michael Litt.
Online metrics such as social media shares can help you understand which messages your target market likes best. YouTube and other video hosting sites offer many great analytics tools that enable you to see the demographics of your viewers, whether they're watching to the end of the video, and what day and time they're most likely to watch.
Before you post, you may want to send out a secure version of your video to trusted contacts to see if your message is both engaging and clear, advises ReelSEO.
Be a Storyteller
Successful video marketing campaigns use storytelling techniques to create videos that are both timely and memorable. Creativity is the key to engaging viewers with videos, whether you use a popular song, a clever parody, or spoof a famous ad.
Blendtec, for example, mixes plenty of humor into its popular Will it Blend? storytelling videos. Founder Tom Dickson dons safety goggles and a white lab coat before using the company's appliances to blend everything from iPhones to glow sticks. The video series boosted Blendtec's sales of consumer blenders by over 700 percent.
Tell a Bigger Story
Instead of using video marketing to talk about your brand, talk about what your business does for others. Describe your product's impact on the planet, for example, or the way it improves people's lives.
Building emotional connections by promoting a theme that goes beyond your brand can make a big difference in how viewers react to your site. “Emotions drive decisions, prompt actions, and change mindsets, leading to strong loyalty and a deep personal connection with a given brand that can extend beyond its rational attributes," writes Debbie Williams, author of “Brands in Glass Houses."
To make those emotional connections through your site, try these tips from Williams:
With only a few short seconds to grab viewers' attention, video marketing is an effective way for sites to tell big stories in a small amount of time. Add in the potential for increased social sharing, customer loyalty, and online purchasing and you have a scenario that any entrepreneur or small business owner can enjoy.
When thinking about your new or current website for your small business, take into consideration the following basic four standards for a successful website:
1. Get to know your target audience
Ask yourself – Who do I want to reach through my website and what reasons or functions will it serve? Realizing and really considering what your target audience will desire and require – not just what you desire – is an essential first standard to success.
2. Simple, yet Functional
Your website should be very user-friendly and be extremely functional as well as attractive. No cluttered up pages that causes your potential customers a headache just trying to maneuver through your website. Use the designer’s motto of, “Less is More.”
3. Plan out Design, Structure and Purpose
Planning ahead before you even start building your website, will save you valuable time. Think about the design. How many pages will you have? What do you want the pages to do? Will you want hidden pages to serve additional functions or added details? Planning through all of this before creating your website is a sure way for success.
4. Know Basic Audience Flow
Now, you need to ask yourself what you want your visitors to find and do on your pages. What call of actions – like shopping or hiring you for a service – might need to appear noticeable by being placed at the top right-hand corner of your website? Is there anything that may be less important that could be placed on a sub-page from a drop down menu? Will you need a search box? Social media connections? Images? Plan ahead about how your target audience will use your site and accomplish your desired actions.
You may have heard by now that Google stated it would be updating its mobile search results soon, ranking algorithm to favor websites that are mobile-friendly.
As of April 21, 2015, you should already be seeing better performance from Google’s mobile search results for websites that are currently mobile-friendly. Several months ago, Google began giving notice to websites currently not mobile-friendly. For those of you who are not SEO savvy, have realized that if not addressed promptly, warnings from Google can turn into business killers.
So, you may be asking, what does this change mean to my small business? Pretty much that mobile is now a requirement, not an option. Previously, mobile websites have been a nice little perk, but not a necessity. Of course, now, this is a direct contradiction to how people use the Internet. From a recent TechCrunch study, 75% of current smartphone users will use the Internet from their devices. If your small business website isn’t mobile-friendly, this may send a message to your current and potential customers that you don’t care about their visits. If you are not currently thinking this way, you can bet Google is. Mobile-friendly websites must now be a “must have” for all businesses.
As a small business, however, you may have an advantage over the larger brand businesses. Why? Because most larger brand businesses are still living on old technology. They don’t want to upgrade because it could be time consuming and expensive. Websites for small businesses have the advantage. With Google’s update, your small business that currently has a mobile-friendly website may surpass larger competitors that haven’t updated their websites.
How can you find out if your website is mobile-friendly? Just ask Google. Visit Google’s mobile-friendly test and enter your URL. In ten seconds or less, you can test your website to see how mobile-friendly it is (or isn’t.)
If your website fails the Google test, make the proper fixes. When you finish with Google’s test, they will provide you with a list of recommendations to implement. Follow those directions and your website will be good to go. If the changes will be time-consuming or expensive, you may want to consider rebuilding your website.
This might be the perfect time to create a new website. It might be easier to ditch the old website and construct a new one. If this is the route you choose to go, keep Startup Web Design in mind. We offer mobile-friendly websites that are easy and affordable.
Isn’t it time to say, “if you can’t beat them, join them?” Mobile is the way to go now, whether you like it or not. Otherwise, your website may become obsolete and potential customers will move on to websites that are mobile-friendly.
Google has taken the lead in the way the Internet is used. Ensure your website is optimized and mobile-friendly today.
Contact us if Startup Web Design can assist you in turning your current small business website into a mobile-friendly website or if you want to completely start from scratch and reconstruct your current small business website into a current user-friendly and mobile-friendly website.
How does a potential customer choose between you and another business when using the Internet? They search and compare. They are getting more Internet savvy in recognizing deception and scams that are increasingly present online today.
What can a small business do, then, to secure their online presence and be deemed trustworthy? A sharp and well-dressed website design will provide your business credibility and set you apart from your competitors online.
Here are four concepts for small businesses that can make or break your business:
Concept #1: 5 Seconds! That’s all you have to secure a potential customer’s attention online.
Customers initially surf the Internet by using “keywords.” When they land on your website, they will scan for those keywords first, not read your entire website. Therefore, keywords should be popping out on your home page so they can determine right away whether your business is what they’re looking for or not.
Placing the right information in the right spot is crucial.
· Place your contact info or an easy identifiable contact icon in the upper right hand corner of your website
· If you will be offering a special deal or limited time coupon, place that on the home page
· Showcase your special services
· Plainly communicate reasons your potential customers should work with you
Concept #2: Customers will examine your business based on what they see online.
With the Internet today, potential customers will browse your website and decide right then and there if they will physically visit your shop (if you have a brick and mortar) or purchase directly from your website. They want to know what to expect from your business. Your website design will speak volumes to them as to whether it says cheap or platinum, experienced or ready to close up shop.
What does your online presence say about your business?
• Showcase your products with professional photos and/or videos – use before and after shots, if applicable
• Highlight your staff with photos and biographies
• Display award icons, list certifications, etc. – this will really boost your credibility
Concept #3: Unworkable websites are the biggest responsive obstacles for customers.
Did you know you could lose 50% of online sales due to potential customers not being able to find content on your website? Visitors who are searching the Internet are usually in a hurry and/or are already frustrated. A website that is not very user friendly or the content is jumbled will only add to their frustration, which will most likely send them to another website looking for what they want. Today’s customers want to be able to find things quickly, easily and conveniently.
You should have a user friendly website by having:
• Your main information front and center on the home page
• An easy to find call to action
• A website that is also mobile friendly
• Up-to-date and current information
• Quick and easy links that load instantly – avoid having flash player – most mobile phones cannot use flash player
Concept #4: Remind satisfied customers that you still exist.
You know customers that were displeased or disappointed with your work will leave feedback. Satisfied customers will usually go on with their day. With that in mind, you want to keep your name in front of them as much and as often as possible by being where they are. Offer tips or advice on your website to keep them coming back and interested in your professional knowledge and abilities.
How do you stay in front of them?
• Consistent listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, etc.
• E-mail marketing
• Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, etc.
As a small business owner, you know that understanding what your customer wants is valuable. Being just as successful online is just as important. Educating yourself about what potential customers want and are looking for when searching for your type of service on the Internet will assist you on how to successfully grow and build your online presence. With this in mind, you will receive more business, gain credibility and build trust among your customers.
When you are ready to make your small business website work for you, contact us.
“What would my perfect website look like?” Browse through other websites in your same industry and note which ones you really love. Do those sites have more photos, graphics, something unique that makes them stand out? Here is a general list of questions to ask yourself as you begin thinking about that website you have been dreaming about:
1. What is the main purpose of your website? How will it expand
2. What are the secondary purposes of your website? Is there
anything else you absolutely need to convey to your clients
and potential clients?
3. What audience do you want to target? Specific age group? Specific industry?
4. What would be the most important components of your website? What absolutely needs to be on there? What hasn’t
worked and can it be removed?
5. Do you have analytics? If so, have you ever checked them to see how traffic has been running on your website?
6. What types of designs do you like? Look at those websites you love and make notes of some of your preferences.
7. Determine your budget and deadlines of what you can spend and how long you want it to take to get your new and
improved website up and running.
8. Ask yourself if you really need a makeover or really need to go back to the drawing board and begin again.
9. Think about if you want your website interactive where users can share, tweet or like your content.
10. Are you currently paying too much for a website host? Check us out and compare. (Okay, that is a little shameless,
11. Remember, potential clients and especially buyers if you have products to sell, base their purchases on emotions. Does
your website convey appropriate emotions to gain clients?
12. Marketing materials – do you need to have an online brochure, etc. and/or do you need to update your printed
13. What types of media should you have on your website? Photos, videos, audio?
14. For social media, do you need to link to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.? Need a blog?
15. Does your logo need updating?
16. Call to action – definitely should be included so your potential clients know exactly what steps they need to take next.
We know exactly where the best position on your website it should be placed. (Another shameless, self-promotion)
What do you want that call to action to look like? Sign up to get something for free (in order for you to get their e-mail
address), buy your products, or other action?
17. Does your website need eCommerce because you sell products?
18. Do you need the flexibility and freedom to update or post news on your website regularly?
19. Does your website need SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? I can answer that one for you – yes! How else will
potential clients find you on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.?
20. Start researching for the right website designer that will suit your needs and budget. We hope you will check us out.
Have fun working on your own list of ideas for your website. When you are ready, contact Startup Web Design to begin your makeover.
How to Create Your Site to Be an Attractive Place for Potential and Current Customers
Nothing will drive away potential customers faster than a mixed up, awkwardly designed website. How can you change that? By reading the ten tips below which will greatly improve your website immediately.
1. Navigation | It is very important for customers to be able to navigate through your website easily. To do this, ensure all significant sections are noticeably prominent. Create links to as many pages as you can on the main navigation bar in place of having subpages from pages.
2. Your Brand | Include notable elements of your brand into your website, i.e., your logo and color scheme. Your logo should be displayed prominently on your home page as well as on all subsequent pages. This will help customers recognize your logo and brand quicker and easier. For example, think of Nike. You see right away in your mind their iconic "swish" logo. You want to be recognized for both your logo and name.
3. Home Page | As soon as a visitor lands on your home page, they should be able to tell exactly what your site is all about. A call to action should also be visually prominent on the page.
4. Content | Does your principal business operate offline? You can still have a website - just be sure to include enough clearly written information to direct customers to call or e-mail. If your business primarily operates online, you will need to provide ample information to provide customers the assurance to click and buy. However, it is best not to put too much information on any given page, as Internet visitors do not like to have to read several paragraphs to find out what you are about before there is any call to action.
5. Refresh Content | Always, always keep your website fresh and up-to-date. No one likes to visit a website and see information that may be out of date or no longer applicable. Keeping your website fresh will bring customers back again and again. Having a blog is the quickest, easiest way to stay fresh in your targeted market.
6. Think SEO | Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how customers find you when they search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engine. Having the most pertinent keywords in your SEO is very important. Also, SEO's do not like or usually cannot read graphics or images. One way to remedy this is to provide a link on your website to your photos or graphics, such as, "View Collection" instead of a button. The text is what SEO's will search - not images or graphics.
7. Colors | We all like color and you might think your wild purple will really make your website stand out. However, if customers are not able to read it, then that will not serve you or your business. Instead, use harmonizing colors that ensures your text will be easily read. Non-harmonizing colors such as red text on a blue background causes text to be too hard to read and will, therefore, potentially turn off visitors.
8. Be Accessible | If you want your customers to connect with you from your website, don't make it hard for them. Website design experts say your contact information, as well as your social media links, should be located at the top right hand corner on every page of your site.
9. Sounds Good | It's sometimes nice to hear music when you open up a website; however, on most mobile devices, the music will not play, which can be very frustrating for visitors. If you feel music needs to be on your website, just ensure it is pleasant to the ear and that it can be easily disabled.
10. External Links | Sometimes, you may want or need to add external links on your website that would take customers off your site onto another site. Make sure those links always open in a new window. You want to ensure your website stays in front of your customer, even when you afford them additional resources.
Need to create a website today? Let us know. We will be happy to create one for you.
By Cynthia Boris – originally published October 2012 on http://www.entrepreneur.com
In business, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and your company's website is no different. When customers arrive at your site they should instantly have a clear understanding of who you are and what you do. But statistics show that many small-business websites lack the basics, which puts them at risk of losing a customer with just one click.
The relationship between a customer and a business is based on trust. Is your website customer-friendly? Start with the five things that belong on the front page of every business website.
1. Contact information: A recent survey by Chantilly, Va.-based local media and advertising research group BIA/Kelsey indicates that nearly 75 percent of small-business websites don't have an email link on their homepage. And six out of 10 don't have a phone number.
Minimally, your site should have a clear email link and a phone number. If you have a physical location, consider including the full address with the state and zip code, as well as a map and directions.
2. Images that represent what you do: If you sell wedding cakes, for instance, the front page of your website should have a picture of one of your cakes. As basic as this sounds, many business sites use irrelevant graphics such as butterflies and family photos, or worse, no graphics at all.
But be mindful of how you display images. Think twice before making them spin or shake or do anything else that can be distracting or irritating.
3. Clear navigation with working links: The front page of your site should have a clear navigation system either across the top or down one side of the page. The buttons should be clearly marked with words that correspond to the content on your site and help customers quickly find what they're looking for. Also consider including buttons for shipping options, FAQs and background on your company.
It's also important to click your links on a regular basis to make sure they all work, or use Google Webmaster Tools to identify any 404 errors. Broken links not only prevent shoppers from completing their orders, they can also make it appear as if you don't care about your business.
4. An email signup box: One effective way to encourage customer loyalty is with a regular newsletter. Put a signup box on the front page of your website and offer rewards, such as a discount on a future order to anyone who submits his or her email address. Services such as Mailchimp offer simple ways of doing this.
5. Social media links: Help customers stay in touch by providing links to your social media accounts right on your front page. Use recognizable icons linked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. You can also use feed widgets to encourage instant follow-up as well as social media sharing.
by Ryan Miller
In a world where businesses are measured by their number of likes, followers, and the size of their email databases, I see many businesses with a tendency to overlook the real value that their audience is offering.
Especially early on, don’t focus so much on how many platforms you can leverage, rather, focus on one platform where you can effectively learn more about your audience. From there you can broaden your marketing efforts based on what you now know, creating a highly targeted message.
Where you can begin:
Facebook is one of the largest platforms for users to absorb content and share personal information. The data and users are there, all for your taking. For that reason, I'll focus on Facebook as the platform to execute against. Below are three action items that you can realistically move on to start gaining a better understanding of your audience. I've grouped them into categories based on the amount of energy you'll need to spend to get something started.
Page Insights - Low Effort
Assuming you have a Facebook presence, Facebook's Page Insights is a free way to get a better understanding of those users who have "Liked" your page and engage with your brand on Facebook. Although the details are somewhat limited, there are some valuable things you can learn that are often overlooked. Through Page Insights, you can glean information around ‘When Your Fans are Online’, ‘Gender Breakdowns’, and ‘Location Breakdowns’. Just by getting a better understanding of your users in these areas, you can better tailor your efforts to your audience. For example, don’t sell snow shovels to 70 year olds who live in Florida.
This tool is free, already in place, easy to navigate, and you can gain a better understanding of your audience within minutes.
Polls, Surveys, and Questionnaires - Medium Effort
Polls, Surveys, and Questionnaires. Just reading that may have made you cringe a little, and that is completely understandable. However, it is an effective way to get the specific information you need, with minimal effort and low costs.
There are several survey tools available for Facebook such as the free version of POLL that allows you to easily poll your audience, keeping the questions within Facebook (as opposed to sending them to a page on your site) and increasing the participation.
When going this route, there are a few key things to consider. Make sure you limit the number of questions at one time and be sure every question is giving you valuable insight into your users. Don’t be afraid to incentivize the user. Give away a $5 gift card to users that participate or even offer an exclusive discount on your product if they take the survey. Be creative and you can effectively leverage the information for future marketing efforts.
Facebook Login and Apps - High Effort
Create a Facebook App and leverage Facebook Login. This gives you the opportunity to access an even larger pool of ultra-valuable user information.
If you don’t have a developer with the skills to create Facebook Apps, find someone that you can contract with or partner with a creative company like Brand Thunder to help you get something in place.
We’ve all seen the screen that comes up saying something similar to “THIS BRAND will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, birthday, and email address.” The challenge is coming up with creative campaigns that increase the likelihood of users accepting those Facebook Login Permissions.
However, overcoming that small hurdle is well worth the effort. You can then start to obtain user details such as Gender, Location, Likes, Interests, Education History, Email Address, Hometown, Age Range, and on and on. If they give it to Facebook, you have a chance to learn from it. This can be used with just your Facebook audience or even extended to visitors that come to your website or your existing email database.
About the Author - Ryan Miller
As the VP of Business Development for Brand Thunder, Ryan has more than a decade of experience building relationships and creating successful business strategies for leading brands.