The Perfect Small Business Website – what does it take?
If you’re a small business owner, there’s a chance you have been approached by someone to build a website for you. Even if you already have one. And, if that’s the case there are a number of angles from which the designer could approach you – all of them (likely) legitimate!
When I speak to a potential client, regardless whether I approached them first or if they have reached out to me, I discuss their potential new website from two main points of view. The way I see it if these two main areas are thoroughly addressed then the website in question should eventually be *successful.
* By ‘successful’ in this case, I mean profitable. Obviously that’s not the ONLY measure of success – but, just for the sake of clarity…
Two Elements Comprising an Excellent Small Business Website
Well, if you’ve seen the featured image for this article then you already know what I am about to say:
The perfect small business website must, at the very least LOOK GOOD and BE EASY TO FIND.
As with so much in life, the theory is almost always fairly easy to grasp. It’s putting the theory into practice that trips most people up. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about losing weight. quitting smoking, reading more books, starting those piano lessons – OR creating a website that covers its bases thoroughly.
Talking the talk is stupid simple, It’s in walking the walk where things can get dicey! Especially where subjective things such as looking good” are concerned.
Let’s break each of these two things down and BRIEFLY discuss the following:
- WHY each element is important
- Simple (stupid) mistakes you can easily avoid
- How to tie it all together
FIRST: A Business Website that’s Easily Found
Being a 55/45 kind of guy it always pains me to start here, but I know it’s the right place to start and so I will. By “55/45” type of guy I mean that my brain is 55% creative and 45% anal(ytical). In other words I’d RATHER start with the LOOK GOOD apsect of things because that is way more fun (to me).
With that being said, the one NICE thing about the EASILY FOUND aspect is that it really doesn’t require a whole lot of explaining – or convincing for that matter. In other words, if I have to “sell” someone on the idea that being found easily in Google is a good idea for a small business then there are probably some psychological issues or traumas that I am in NO WAY qualified to handle. Either that or the business is just sooo well established in their local market that they’re turning down work/business anyway! In either case – hats off to them!
A far more relevant conversation to have with a business owner is in explaining to them why taking care of their web presence is such a better investment in time and money than ANY other form of media. This is something that they may be a little less aware of and a little bit more understandably so. I have an entire article dedicated to just that topic in fact! Suffice it to say here that just ONE reason that this is true is that what you do with your online presence (usually your website) will live FOREVER unless you get rid of it. Let that sink in. You could write a piece of content on your website (content for one of the main pages, content for an article etc) and someone could find that piece of content 3 years from now based on a search they are doing. You can LITERALLY gain a future customer for something you did well last year!
Do you think that, out of the goodness of their heart, the local radio station you paid $500 to is going to dig out that (horribly produced) advertisement you paid them for 3 from now and just play it for you for free? Right.
Getting the picture as to why your website is soooo critical?
We’ve covered the “Why” concerning your website being easily found. Let’s look at the major mistake to avoid.
Avoid this mistake
And the mistake is…LAZINESS!
Now that you’re getting a glimpse as to why your website’s findability is probably more important than ANYTHING else you’re ever going to do advertising-wise it’s probably becoming painfully clear why getting lazy in this arena could equate to death rattle. The funny thing is, this is usually the FIRST place business owners tend to be lazy; most of them. I urge you to NOT FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE CROWD!
There are countless ways a business can improve its online presence. And the ONE thing it (the business itself) has the most control over is WHAT the content of the website IS and how often it gets updated. I don’t care WHAT kind of business you own or how many people you do or don’t have working there, there is always SOME way to keep your website fresh. New blog posts, updating information, adding to existing information etc. Take the time to do what your competition won’t do and I will guarantee you that you’ll be glad you did.
NEXT: Your Website must LOOK GOOD
Because some folks NEED the eye candy. That is the absolute truth. They NEED something pleasing to look at. Otherwise they are going to bounce right off your site like Tigger from Eeyore! I know this sounds far too simple – but I promise you it’s a reality.
Two types of people
Earlier I said that I was a 55/45 guy, meaning I see myself as 55% creative and 45% analytical. Some people use the terms left-brain or right-brain dominant (right=creative, left=analytical in case you’re unfamiliar). Most people tend to lean one way or the other.
In my experience it’s pretty easy to get a right-brain dominant OR a left-brain dominant person to see the value of having a website that is easily found in search engines. It’s kind of a…NO-brainer! The challenge comes in getting the left-brain dominant types to see the value in an aesthetically pleasing (nice looking) website. To them it’s all about presenting the facts, the figures and getting found in Google. Period.
I bring all of this up because it will help with my explanation of the mistake to avoid!
The Mistake to Avoid
The mistake to avoid here would be in taking an unbalanced approach to developing your business’s website. And I might also point out that almost EVERY small business does it. Of course the reason(s) might boil down to time and budget but that’s a subject for another article.
And of course, by “unbalanced” I am referring to taking these two main points into consideration. It’s incredibly easy to forget that not everyone has the same preferences and online habits and it is even easier to assume that everyone does things the way YOU do them – or at least that they should! This is a deadly mistake to make.
There are a number of ways to avoid this. The easiest, of course, would be to have an experienced web designer work on your website. And this is NOT just for their knowledge (although that’s nice too) but also for the fact that, if they are worth their salt, they will understand these two concepts. Intimately. ESPECIALLY if they have been in the business for more than a year or two. In fact, if they bring these two elements up to you FIRST…hire them on the spot!
A Quick Hypothetical Example Before I Wrap this UP
Maybe this will illustrate my point?
Visualize if you would an Accountant starting out on their own in a small town. They realize they need a website. Duh.
Now…not to pigeon hole ANYONE but how would expect this person to approach the creation of their website?. Pretty to-the-point, right? As described above probably lots of facts, lots of figures and not a whole lot of fluff. Not much energy will likely get put into making the website a pleasing visual experience.
Pay close attention to what I am about to say because this is what practically ALL small business owners miss.
Continuing with our example of the accountant, what type of person is MOST likely to be looking to hire an accountant online to help them out with their taxes, their books or what have you? Wouldn’t it be quite likely someone exactly the OPPOSITE of an accountant? Again, not always…but you get my point. And if this is true, WHO should our hypothetical accountant be keeping in mind when putting the website together? Himself/herself and what THEY would be drawn to? OR the type of PERSON they’d want to hire them?
Are you getting the point?
I know this sounds silly and probably very first grade but you have to realize that it is these kinds of egocentric sort of mistakes small business owners make every day.
When you go fishing you bring worms because fish eat worms. You don’t bring pizza because YOU like it.
Pulling it all together
Yes, even I will (begrudgingly) admit that of these two crucial elements if I HAD to choose which one is more important it would be making sure your website is getting ranked well for the keywords or phrases you’re interested in.
That being said, if that is your ONLY concern and you pay no attention to the DESIGN of your website you are (almost) completely missing the boat. Some folks are “from Mars”, some are “from Venus”. Don’t be the idiot that excludes an entire planet.
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