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10 things every business website needs

Microsoft   |   September 25, 2017   |   Share this:  

This post was first shared on the ModernBiz Blog. To read the original blog, click here.

From great hosting to web analytics, this post provides a list of 10 things every small business should consider when (re)building a website.

Redesigning your website? Publishing a site for the first time? Congrats! Your web presence gives you fabulous possibilities to grow your business. Plus, you can show off your brand and create a business/marketing advantage. Keep in mind only about half of Canada’s small businesses even have a website at all… So, good for you.

Here’s my list of ideas and considerations for your new website:

1. A user-centric experience

To design a good experience, start by understanding your audience. What do they need and want from you? Why do they visit? What social networks do they like? Try to always keep them top of mind. If you have a site already, analyze your analytics. I use JetPack.

2. Robust web hosting

Above all, your website must load quickly and reliably. Nothing frustrates visitors more than spotty or sluggish sites. Awful! So, choose your host carefully. I like GoDaddy for web hosting because of its customer support, plugins, and WordPress training videos.

“A single second delay in your website loading time can result in a 7% loss in conversion, and 40% of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.” – Hosting Facts

3. Clear contact info

How can visitors get in touch with you? Keep in mind that people often visit websites to get basic contact info. So, offer it! Put your contact info in your site footer. (This way it appears on each page.) And add a “Contact Us” page, complete with a map and form.

4. Mobile friendliness

Per comScore, 56 percent of Internet traffic in Canada happens on phones. Therefore, your website must “respond” to phones and tablets properly. When you design and/or update it, check to see how your new site looks on popular smart phones and tablets.

“The biggest frustration for people using search engines on their smartphones was slow load times, demonstrating what has become almost a digital refrain: companies need to optimize sites and content for mobile audiences.” – Catalyst Canada

5. Social media activity

Don’t just build a website, build an online presence for your brand with social media, too. Create your own presence on the social networks your audience likes the most. Then embed your social media posts onto your website to maximize your exposure! Try using plugins to highlight social feeds on your website. I love highly visual platforms like Instagramand Pinterest.

“Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approx. 116 minutes) on social media every day… Currently, total time spent on social media beats time spent eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming.” – Social Media Today

6. No broken links

Nothing puts off people more than the dreaded “404 Page not found” kiss of death. Take time each month to search for dead links. This will also improve your search engine optimization. You can also check out the Thrive guide to SEO optimization.

Success Tip: Are you Bing-able? List your business on a variety of search engines. Click here to add your listing on Bing.

7. Maximum visual appeal

Use “Pinterest-worthy” images that enhance the experience. If your site’s photography gets pinned, your brand benefits. Images also increase search results related to your brand and express your company’s personality in ways that words simply can’t.

Success Tip: Use sites like Canva where socially sized templates can create impressive artwork. Then share the graphics you create on your website and social media pages.

8. Engaging rich content

Consider including videos, blog posts, and helpful links for your customers. This type of content will also increase your search engine discovery and allow for great shareable content possibilities. It’s also the perfect way to show off your customer success stories.

Success Tip: Incorporate videos onto your site. You can easily upload and embed them using YouTube.

9. Reviews & testimonials

Add good reviews and customer testimonials. Customer recommendations will improve your credibility and provide you with social proof on why people should do business with you. You can even film testimonials and publish them in short videos!

10. A way to participate

Does your website allow for comments and/or have ways to collect potential email subscribers? Create offers to download your content by subscribing to your newsletter. My favourite plugins are Rapidology and Sumo.

Remember this one thing

People seem to have increasingly shortened attention spans. That’s why we hate to wait for websites to load. Per Hosting Facts: “The average human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds now… much shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (at 9 seconds).” Sad but true!

New website feature checklist

  1. A user-centric experience (user needs and wants & analytics)
  2. Robust web hosting (because people won’t wait)
  3. Clear contact info (site footer & contact us page)
  4. Mobile friendliness (responds properly to phones & tablets)
  5. Social media activity (social media pages, links & feeds)
  6. No broken links (and other basic SEO fixes)
  7. Maximum visual appeal (use Pinterest-worthy images)
  8. Engaging rich content (videos, blog posts, helpful links, success stories)
  9. Reviews & testimonials (written and/or video)
  10. A way to participate (collect emails & offer newsletter)

 

Hope this helps with your website building or updating. Now, we would love to hear from you. What makes your website shine?

The ModernBiz Blog helps Canada’s small and medium-sized business get the most value from modern tech. At Microsoft, we believe passionately that you don’t have to be technical to get modern technology working for you. And so we’re offering informative and topical articles, news, offers, success stories and more, all created and curated for real, everyday business people like you. Read more of our posts on the ModernBiz Blog.

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