If you are any kind of shopper, you know the difference between a store’s inviting first impression and an immediate turnoff. Navigation, lighting and an appealing selection make the difference whether you stay and shop or turn and run.
If you are any kind of business owner, this should matter. A study by 1and1 Internet Inc. found that 46% of US consumers have cancelled plans to spend money with a small business after discovering a poor quality website. Twenty-nine percent of Americans feel local business websites look “unimpressive.” Forty-five percent of consumers believe that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all.
What is an SMB to do?
Limited budgets, limited time and confusion over what qualifies as valuable content makes web management an end-of-list task for many small business owners.
The good news is that websites don’t have to be complicated to be appealing. Simple but compelling graphics, a platform compatible with desktop and mobile devices and well-thought out primary content will at least appease, if not impress, even the most web-savvy surfer.
5 Ways to Spiff your Site
- Be your customer. Load your site and pretend you are a first-time customer. What is your first impression, visually? Can you tell within 15 seconds what your company does? Is it obvious where to go to get more information? If not, there is work to be done.
- List your most important pieces of information. At the very least, you will want to have a home page that summarizes your business, an about us page that gives a brief history of your company and introduces the owners or key players, and a products or services page. Consider also adding a testimonial or portfolio page to show successful jobs and happy clients.
- Load a simple website program. Developing a simple site requires a learning curve but it doesn’t have to be super steep. I use WordPress.org for Bizziwriter and found that through tutorials, I, a virtual website newbie, could publish a respectable and aesthetically pleasing site all by myself. As my business has grown, I’ve employed help to fine tune search engine optimization but the bones are mine. WordPress offers thousands of free customizable themes and does a good job prompting you to include what is most important.
- Add content on a regular basis. The worst thing is an old, tired and static site that looks like no one loves it. Just as successful retailers change and freshen displays, web masters need to update websites with industry news, business announcements or blog entries that offer a window into your business’s passion, direction, personality or new products and services.
- Use photos and videos. Smart phones make it easy to snap quick shots and make short informative videos. Embed tutorials or post photos of happy customers. They’ll add to the currency and appeal of your site.