It is hard to picture that just about a decade and a half ago the internet was unknown to most people. It has grown significantly since, from just a means to quickly communicate through email to what it is today – a powerful platform for ecommerce. Today the internet is the way to do business. Any modern business from multi-national behemoths to the smallest start-up cannot survive without an internet presence through its website.
A website is the platform through which a company makes itself known, communicates about itself, its missions and goals, products and services. It is the internet that today’s customer visits for information, to see what is available and at what price. No successful business, however small, can afford not to have a website. If you own a business today, your customers expect that you have a website through which they can place orders, track shipping details or simply ask for more information. Modern businesses would be at a tremendous disadvantage without a website.
Website development is a skilled process which is why most small businesses entrust the development to a professional. It is not sufficient merely to have a website, but also one that attracts customers and encourages them to remain and explore what your business has to offer and why they should do business with you. So what are the essentials a small business website must have?
- Accurate search results: Your website must have search buttons and these must deliver precise and correct results. Any search result or query must reach the relevant product page. This feature will help narrow the customer’s search. There’s no bigger turn-off than a query leading a customer to a host of inaccurate solutions.
- Structured and defined paths: A customer becomes frustrated in the absence of a route to guide them. A well defined and structured path is the solution. Your website could simplify the process with a flowchart which directs visitors and helps them navigate through the various web page developments.
- Product buttons: Product buttons on the home page are a must. This feature helps customers to zero in immediately on the appropriate product page. It also saves time and annoyance and speeds the purchase decision.
- Pricing: A smooth and trouble free experience on your website encourages a customer to stay with it. There’s nothing more annoying to a customer than to have to navigate through numerous pages to get the product information they are looking for. It’s a good idea upfront to display product prices so that fewer clicks are required which enhances the chance of a quick purchase.
Other essentials relevant to website appearance are:
- Layout: Confine your website to a standard layout. Avoid multiple frames on a single page, and above all avoid the customer having to use the horizontal toolbar to access and read the full text. Such layouts tire a reader who would prefer a less demanding experience.
- Fonts: Use fonts that are easily readable. Avoid using multiple fonts which look amateurish. 3 font types are the maximum, one for the headings, another for text and the third to highlight critical information within the text. Stick with standard fonts that make the content more appealing.
- Graphics: Confine each image to between 10 and 12 KB because a customer has no patience with slow loading pages. The images on your website should be relevant to the content. Avoid moving or blinking pictures which tend to annoy visitors encouraging them to move to the next site.
- Advertising: Visitors come to a website for specific reasons and get overwhelmed with excessive advertising which detracts from the content. Advertising earns revenue but defeats the purpose if it turns off visitors.
With these few essentials in mind, a small business would have a well-designed and effective website guaranteed to give a visitor a user-friendly experience.