As a small business, your website is one of your most valuable tools.
It can show off your work, reach around the world and tell people who you really are… Hey, the right website can be selling your products taking payment, and organising dispatch while you put your feet up with a cup of tea.
But how do you make sure your website is doing what you need it to? What should you include when you’re starting out? This is my list of things to consider when you’re putting your website together – or reviewing it – I hope it helps.
What Does Your Small Business Website Need?
These are the technical elements of your website – while it’s not my expertise, I know some amazing people who can help.
What do you want your website to do? Is it aiming for the search engine top spot, providing a shop for your customers, or acting as a portfolio for your work? You need to know this to know if it’s working.
|2.||Speed and Performance|
Many things affect the speed of your website, make sure load times don’t keep people waiting – because they won’t.
|3.||Security and Reliability|
Ensuring the security of your data and that of your visitors is essential; are you clear on your compliance obligations and confident in your website host?
Does your site map make sense? Can visitors find what they need?
Which pages should you have? Why? For SEO? Or because other sites have them?
Think about your visitors and what they’re looking for – this must be the focus; it can sometimes be useful to get other people’s input on this.
Optimising your site for search engines is complex – and won’t be everyone’s priority. If it is important to you, you may want help.
|6.||The Right Domain Name|
Of course, it should fit your brand. It should also be clear, easy to spell, and not look like something else when the words are pushed together.
Also, the ownership of your domain should be in your name; it may seem easier to let your web developer look after things – but this isn’t one of them.
Any links on your website should be checked, internal links to other pages or external – to your social media for example.
Design is crucial for any website; not just making it look great, your site must serve its purpose and provide a positive experience for your visitors. Again, this isn’t my area of expertise but I know some great designers.
Your website needs to look as good on mobile or tablet as laptop or PC – and, of course, work as well too.
Your logo should be clear – it will often appear in the top left corner of the site and act as a home button.
Ensure your site reflects brand colours and fonts and includes a favicon so your logo is visible in search bars or browser tabs.
While this was mentioned in terms of functionality, good design is necessary to achieve this.
Like number 10, the priority is ensuring visitors find what they’re looking for without being overwhelmed by content or process.
Make sure each page is clear, headings give direction and text is easy to read.
|12.||The Right Image|
Having bespoke images helps your branding, as well as the look and feel, of the site. And, whether it’s your own or a stock image, including tags and alt text will help with SEO.
Have you considered using video or music on your site? They are many situations in which your audience might find value from different media – make the most of them.
Your contact details must be easy to find with the top right-hand corner a common position for them.
So finally, let’s look at the words.
|15.||All the Media|
Actually, content isn’t just about words. As I mentioned in the Design section, a variety of media gives people options and appeals to different visitors – think about video and audio as well as your images and text.
|16.||Make it Yours|
Whether it’s words or images, only use them if you have the right to them.
Stock images are ok if you have the right to use them, don’t copy from other sites if you aren’t sure.
Similarly, taking words that aren’t yours will be bad for your website and likely your business.
|17.||Keep it Fresh|
Regularly refreshing your site is essential – whether it’s updating your images and text, or creating new blog posts, don’t let it get stale.
|18.||Make Content Useful|
You know your audience and what they’re looking for. Yes, they’re looking for information about your business and products, but they might also be looking for help – make your site the place they go.
|19.||Shout About You|
Your Home page should make it immediately clear who you are and what you do, headlines and images should not leave any room for confusion.
Your About page is often equally important for those choosing who to buy from, ensure it really reflects you and tells your visitors why you’re special.
|20.||Know What Your Visitors are Looking For|
Is price important to your clients? Do your customers want to see the faces of the people who make their products? On an e-commerce site, delivery and returns information should be easy to find; for service businesses, will you include your Terms? If it’s important to your visitors, make sure it’s there.
|21.||Call to Action|
At regular points on your site – multiple places on each page – include an appropriate Call to Action. Encourage your reader to buy, call, book; if you don’t make it easy for them, it won’t happen.
While your words are great, other people’s are even better! Testimonials are social proof that you can do the things you’re promising – don’t neglect them.
|23.||Check and Double-Check|
That’s proofreading the content, clicking the links, and more. It’s a job best done by more than one person and it will give you the confidence you need that your site is as good as it can be.
Is that all?
Well, no… And you won’t be surprised to see this because it’s normally in my blogs somewhere:
Always focus on your audience, on who you’re writing for.
There are elements of this in the list above but this consideration will impact your Functionality, Design, and Content.
Think about who is visiting your site and what they want from it – how are they going to use it? Make all your decisions focused on who is reading your site and how you can help them best.
Is there anything else I missed? I’d love to hear your views.
And, let me know if this list helps you take the next steps to the perfect website!