What does it mean for a website to be “made for business”? Thing of your website like a member on your team. It would have a role and responsibility. Additionally, it would be held accountable to providing value in doing it’s job.
Too often, a company’s website is nothing more than a flyer. This happens because people are focused more on making it look a certain way or feel a pressure that “we just need to have something”. Yes, both are important, but are far from the full picture.
Below we cover the critical areas you need to consider when building a new website or evaluating your current one.
It needs a design that is somewhat custom
This is huge! Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a “fully” custom design. Your site needs to stand out from the crowd, and this usually means adjusting your theme or template for more than just colors and fonts. Think about how you can lay out your text, use columns, boxes, and shadows to create a distinct look.
We like for our customers to focus on bold yet professional. It’s one of those things that you know it when you see it.
Why it matters?
Studies show this is the first impactful moment for new users. This is what they remember as much as anything. They may look at 10 different sites, but they remember the ones that stand out.
Matches your brand
This goes hand in hand with the above, but takes it a step deeper in regard to how your prospects interact with your company over time. At the very least, they are going to see emails, and in many cases, they’ll see invoices, presentations, business cards, products, and even videos.
Ideally, you have design continuity throughout all of your media. And when it comes to your site, this is should be the hub since it’s usually the thing they interact with most frequently. So beyond your logo, colors, and fonts, you want to consider the tone of your copy, images & graphics, and processes.
Do you speak in the same manner in your emails as you do on your website? Do you use similar phrasing and wording? Are your graphics aligned stylistically?
Why does brand continuity matter?
#1 it demonstrates professionalism and consistency. Beyond that it creates consistency with interactions, which is super important for prospects. This is part of the puzzle to create an experience where your customers recognize your brand, and they know what to expect.
Fast and Mobile
This should be a no brainer. But I’m here to remind you how important it is that your prospects can access your site quickly – on any device over any connection. If you have issues in either of these areas, stop reading this immediately and get to work fixing it. If you aren’t sure, then stop reading this and review your site’s performance on any of the great tools out there such Google’s Insights or GTMetrix.
Why does performance matter?
This is pretty much a requirement, not a differentiator. In other words, this isn’t even something people usually notice unless it’s a problem. It’s 2020, people no longer give you the benefit of the doubt if you can’t even get your website to load properly.
Probably another term you’ve read about too many times to count. But for a business website, “engaging” means literally that. Does your website attempt to initiate dialogue with users? Does it provide ways for them to communicate with you?
To use some more brick-and-mortar analogies, you don’t want your site to be the prowling car salesman with crazy colored buttons and popups everywhere. Ideally, it’s more like a car parts store, where an associate will ask if there is anything they can help with and remind you that they are there to help you with anything.
At a minimum, your website should provide several options for users to directly contact you. For most businesses, this is a contact form AND chat. But if you want to really do it right, you will intersperse engagement tools with the content. The most common example of this is at the end of a “pricing” section, a call to action like this: “Click here to request a quote”.
Why does engagement matter?
Again, it’s 2020. If your website isn’t engaging, then it’s a flyer. The whole point is to connect with your prospects as earlier in the process as possible. An intentional engagement strategy on your site will drive your leads and conversations way up.
It needs to give them the information they are looking for
Still nothing new here, but I’m gonna build on it. Why is someone on your site? They think you either offer something they want or can solve a problem they have. In either case, there are really 2 things they are using as determination:
- Do you really have the thing they want? Or can you actually solve their problem?
- How much is it going to cost
Waaaaay too many websites try to convince users of #1, while withholding #2. I’ve written a whole post on whether you should put pricing on your website. But the gist is all around how do you draw the user in to the point where you’ve demonstrated enough value that after you give them pricing, they still want to connect with you.
Why does giving them information matter?
Because that’s the whole reason they are on your site to begin with. They are making a list of companies they will contact for the chance to earn their business. Whether they can’t get the information they want or if they can, but decide you aren’t a good fit, you’re not gonna make it to round 2.
Has a defined purpose and role
We tell clients this all of the time, we don’t build online flyers or power point presentations. We build websites that are purpose-driven. We like to take our customers through a process of writing a mock posting for their website. Having the mentality that your website is en employee with a job and responsibility creates a shift in the way companies treat their website.
Why does it matter for your website to have a role?
Is your website a marketing person or a sales person? For some business, using their website like a business development rep (BDR) goes a long way in qualifying and educating prospects as they work with a sales rep. Allowing sales reps to direct early-stage prospects to the website, while being able to see what these prospects are interested in. More on this below.
For many businesses, the website is main source of upsell business. If you can turn your website into a hub for customer interaction, you have a large amount of their attention. Building a knowledgebase and support portal are a great way to get your clients on your site and interacting with your content regularly.
Integrated with your business platforms
One of the big problems these days is independent or siloed systems – different tools for marketing, sales, support, email, accounting, etc. that don’t communicate with eachother. Often the response is a desire to view each customer through a “single pain of glass”.
Why does integrating your website matter?
By integrating your website with these other tools, you can take a big step in consolidating your data. Additionally, connecting your marketing automation, CRM, and/or support platforms with your website will provide a treasure trove of data on each customer.
For example, connecting your WordPress website with Hubspot allows you to see all of the website activity for each contact. Not sure which product a prospective client is really interested in? Watch which web pages they are viewing? Each person is different, and having the ability to see what content each prospect is interested in will help you understand what matters to them.
What do I do with this information?
Assuming you’ve found some of the above points to be useful or insightful, you have a couple options for taking action:
- Review your current site to see where it falls short
- Determine which areas on the list are most relevant and/or could provide the biggest impact for your business
- Come up with the specifics of how you can implement these elements for your company
- Do one at a time, either in house, or hire a developer that specializes in small business web design – like us 🙂