Websites are considered a must for all types of small businesses. In this digital age, customers rely on Internet search engines and online directories to locate sources of products and services.
However, it’s not enough to simply have a presence on the Web. Unless your site is set up with the customer’s needs in mind, it may be doing little to benefit your business.
Whether you design the site yourself or work with a crackerjack professional designer, it’s important to remember that looks, though important, are not everything. Even the most attractive site is simply taking up cyberspace if it’s not functional.
Consider what your site is like from the user’s perspective. Are the various functions easy to find and use? Can customers find what they want fast? Your goal is to have a site that appears professional and credible to customers as well as being easy to navigate.
For a prospect intent on buying, there is nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a clumsy or cluttered site. Categories should be clear and logical.
And while the Web’s almost unlimited space gives you the choice of drowning customers with product details, you may want to exercise some restraint. Give visitors the option of clicking to more information if they wish but don’t force it on them. Coax customers by stages. Filling out forms is often necessary, but keep them simple and break them into bite-sized parts.
And by all means make the photos or other graphics on your site compelling — not the same old generic stock photos you see everywhere. Use graphics of real people and places to add personality to your site and reinforce the notion that your business exists in the real world, too.
The bottom line is your small business website should be built around convenience — the reason onlline business is so popular. That means clear, concise text with relevant graphics, straightforward operating instructions, fast, simple checkout processes for online sales and no surprises or dead-ends — the same features you look for when you do shopping or research online.
To learn more about technology and Internet issues facing your small business, contact America’s free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 business experts who volunteer as mentors.
SCORE offers free mentoring and low-cost workshops. Call 912-652-4335 for the Savannah SCORE office or go to www.savannah.score.org.