12 tips for creating an effective business website

  • Follow best practices for website structure, such as making it mobile responsive, easy to navigate, and well organized with plenty of white space.
  • Focus on customer-focused content and review it periodically to ensure the information is accurate and error-free.
  • Make your website easy to find for potential customers with a custom domain and good search engine optimization (SEO).
  • This article is for business owners who want to maximize the effectiveness of their websites in informing and selling to potential buyers online.

These days, an online presence is vital for any business, even physical stores that don’t do e-commerce. Creating a website is not particularly difficult with the many website building tools available. Whichever software you choose, keep these design principles in mind.

1. Make your site mobile responsive.

Mobile responsiveness is essential for a website to be effective. American adults spend more than five hours on their mobile phone every day, while more than a third do all of their online shopping through a mobile device. Needless to say, your company’s mobile website should provide a positive user experience.

If potential customers land on your site but have trouble reading or navigating on a mobile device, they may simply abandon you in favor of a competitor. Additionally, a negative mobile user experience affects your website in search engine rankings, making it harder for users to find through a Google search – which brings us to our next point.

2. Make it easy to find.

You need a domain name that matches your business name or describes your business in some way. You can even have multiple domains pointing to the website. This means incorporating technical SEO best practices, keyword research, content marketing, and paid advertising campaigns to drive traffic to your website.

PointPoint: Consider outsourcing your web development, branding, SEO, and content marketing to professionals who can advise and guide you through creating your website and landing pages.

If your business depends on people being able to contact you or call your sales team, place this information where they can find it easily.

“Your contact information should be visible, preferably at the top of the homepage, so visitors don’t have to search for a phone number or address if they want to contact the business,” said David Brown, CEO of Web.com.

If you use social media to connect with customers, place your social links in the website header or footer where they will be easily found.

4. Make navigation easy.

Dan Veltri, co-founder and chief product officer of Weebly, advises limiting your top-level navigation menu to five clearly labeled tabs, with related pages organized below them. You should also provide a clear way to return to the homepage no matter where your readers land. Quite often, a Google search can take your reader to a page on your website other than the homepage.

Did you know?Did you know? People browse web pages from top to bottom, left to right, so place your navigation menu where most people expect to find it: at the top of the page. Use the drop-down menus under each top-level category for clean and organized navigation.

5. Keep your pages uncluttered.

Paul Bolls, associate professor of strategic communication at the Missouri School of Journalism, said readers need to be able to put information into context. If a site contains too much information, it overloads the mind, making it unable to retain new information. Be sure to use a good balance of text and graphics that presents a clean page.

One way to keep it simple is to cut out social widgets, like a Twitter feed on your site. Consider whether you’re adding information that interests your reader, advised Michael LaVista, CEO of Caxy Interactive. If your widget content doesn’t support the page’s purpose, delete it.

6. Make sure it’s accurate.

It goes without saying that inaccurate information will turn consumers off, whether it’s the wrong number, outdated product information or simple grammatical errors. You should not only proofread each page before it goes live, but also periodically check each page, especially after making updates elsewhere.

PointPoint: Whenever you update essential information about your business on your website, be sure to also update your social media pages, Google My Business, Yelp, and other sites where your business may appear.

7. Respect the need for speed.

A study by digital marketing company Akamai found that 88.5% of internet users will leave a website if it loads too slowly. Additionally, the time it takes to load a web page affects the purchasing decisions of almost 70% of online shoppers.

Make sure your website is running smoothly by keeping software up-to-date, optimizing videos and images for faster downloads, and using a website host that can handle your bandwidth demands.

8. Have a call to action.

Every page on your website should make the reader do something. In other words, you need to give them a call to action. These landing pages should encourage users to take a certain action, such as calling your business, signing up for a service, buying a product, downloading a white paper, or doing something else that benefits your business goals. Give them a visible invitation to take action: a button, link or clear verbiage. Keep it above the fold if possible so readers don’t have to scroll until they find the call to action.

9. Keep your design simple.

Limit the use of fonts, colors, and GIFs, which can distract and distract from the center of the web page. Short paragraphs and bullet points also make information more readable and likely to be read. Ian Lurie, CEO of internet marketing company Portent Inc., suggests keeping paragraphs shorter than six lines.

This is especially important when it comes to mobile responsiveness, which is a major factor in how Google ranks websites in its algorithm. The higher a website’s ranking, the higher it appears on the search engine results page (SERP). If a competitor is mobile-friendly and your website is not, you could be pushed lower in your customers’ search results.

10. Be personal.

Just as brick-and-mortar businesses invest heavily in their storefronts to represent their brand images, e-commerce retailers must create high-quality online experiences in line with brand perception, as Tom Lounibos, co-founder of SOASTA, told Business News Daily.

To that end, your About Us page shouldn’t be a dry block of text about your business. Emily Brackett, president of design and branding firm Visible Logic, recommends including a good photo of yourself or your team to personalize your customers’ experience.

11. Make sure your website copy is customer-focused.

Potential customers come to your website for information that is useful to them. Sometimes they come looking for educational content on your blog, and other times they are focused on researching the products and services you sell. Either way, you need to present relevant information that will engage your prospects, give them something valuable, and build their confidence in your expertise.

When planning your website content, try to think about it from the customer’s perspective. If you were a potential customer, what information would you find useful? What level of knowledge or expertise would you already have, and what would you need more detailed explanations of? By focusing on your content from the customer’s perspective, you can keep them on your site longer and are more likely to create a long-term relationship with them that will result in a sale.

You are not a writer? No problem; just outsource it to a professional writer.

12. Incorporate SEO best practices.

You might have the best website in your industry, but it won’t do you any good if people can’t find it. While you can spend money on ads to drive leads to your website, it’s more profitable and effective in the long run to bring free organic search traffic to your site.

When people search for information online, they turn to search engines, especially Google. Usually they find what they’re looking for on the first page of search results, so that’s where you want your business to appear. Google and other search engines have their own proprietary algorithms that they use to rank sites based on search terms, also known as keywords.

Search engines use three methods to determine where your ad appears: crawling, indexing, and ranking. Crawl means they find your site through links from other sites. So make sure that links to your site appear on as many external websites as possible.

Once your site is discovered by crawlers, it is indexed, which means it is scanned for content, including keywords, freshness, relevance, links, and multimedia. Make sure your site has plenty of new, relevant content related to the keywords you want to rank for.

Finally, ranking is how search engines determine the best results for a given search. Ranking is based on relevance and authority. Include lots of relevant content, like individual articles on different aspects of a specific topic. Authority is established by the size of your site, its traffic, and the number of other well-respected sites linking to yours. Small business SEO tools make it easy to optimize your site.

Business News Daily editorial staff contributed writing and reporting to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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