For the majority of SMEs, your website is your shop window – you’re relying on it to hook customers and help them find the things they want. Make sure that yours isn’t turning people away by following these steps.
1. Decide what you want your website to do
Start with three simple questions: who are your customers? What do they need to get out of your website? How should they feel about using it?
For example, if you’re a cutting-edge fashion retailer, the chances are you’re appealing to a very aesthetically-conscious crowd and, as well as making it easy to find, earmark and ultimately buy the clothes they want, your site will need to be elegant and stylish to appeal to their tastes. If, on the other hand, you’re running a last-minute babysitter booking service aimed at stressed, time-starved working parents, you’ll need to make that booking process quick and easy enough to do on an iPhone within 30 seconds of hitting your site – but you’ll also need to make sure that your site clearly communicates professionalism and experience, to make those same parents feel safe trusting their kids to you!
2. Focus on intuitive design
Map out how the most important information on the site will link together. What logical steps will customers want to take when they get there? Your most important message should be the first thing they see and they mustn’t get lost searching for what they need.
No matter what business you’re setting up, attractive design with high quality images and a sense of “graphical hierarchy” (i.e. making sure that the most important information is emphasised in an elegant way) is very important. Think about how to lay out your page so that important things like how to buy your product or how to reach you are clear and obvious. If visitors have to spend more than a few seconds looking for key information, they’ll get frustrated and leave.
Before you even consider whether to hire a web designer, it’s worth rooting through the WordPress catalogue of themes to work out what’s already out there, how your site might come together and which features and layouts would help to achieve your goals. For many people, using an existing hosting platform, perhaps with a few tweaks from a talented designer, will save money, get you to where you need to be and give you extensive control over the site if you want to make changes.
Whatever you do, don’t lose track of what it is that your website needs to do. Make sure that you don’t lock yourself into a fancy all-bells-and-whistles website extravaganza that looks lovely, but is impossible for your clients to navigate.
3. Write compelling copy
Working SEO into your website copy is great for bringing visitors to your page, but make sure it’s done unobtrusively or your site will read like spam. Your text must focus on the customer – you’d be amazed at how effective replacing the words “I” or “we” with the word “you” can be in boosting customer engagement and sales.
Each page will need a heading and a sub-heading, which pull the reader in and introduce the problem you can fix for them, the main body text that outlines your products and services and a clear “call to action,” which is what you’d like readers to do once they’ve got this far. As they read what you’ve written, visitors will on some level be asking themselves two questions: “so what?” and “prove it!” Make sure you answer these questions as you go along.
Explain clearly what problem your product or service addresses and how it goes about it. Don’t, for the love of all things holy, use jargon and over-complicated sentence structures that are hard to follow. The text should be as simply worded as possible without losing its meaning.