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The Essential Elements of a Small Business Website

Just like the quality of your products and your great customer service, your website is an important part of how your business presents itself.

A business website, especially for a small business or start-up, doesn’t need to be expensive and full of bells and whistles. You just need the basics, done well.

The absolute basics

Here are the essential things you need on your business website:

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  • a home page – this is where people are likely to arrive first
  • an ‘about us’ section – which explains who you are and what your business does
  • basic details of what you sell, along with prices, and maybe a link to more information or an enquiry form
  • contact details, so people can get in touch with you

If you’re a registered company, it’s also a legal requirement to state your company name, place of registration, registered number and registered office address.

Once you’ve got these in place, you’ve got a fully functional website.

Optional extras

Of course, you may want more than just the basics. Remember though that you don’t need to add any features just for the sake for it, or because ‘everyone else has that’.

What you add depends on how much time and money you want to invest, what your customers want, and what your business is trying to achieve.

To persuade new customers to buy from you, add compelling sales copy and attractive images to draw the reader in. Spell out what makes you and your business special. You could also feature case studies, customer testimonials or special offers.

To give extra value for your customers, look at adding content that they’ll find useful. You could have a news feed, events calendar, ‘white papers’ or links to other handy websites.

If you want to build a reputation, add expert content such as a blog. Remember it needs to be useful information for customers, or make an interesting read – put yourself in their shoes.

To improve customer service you could have a forum or accept feedback – although you must have the resources to respond to queries and complaints. You could also include product manuals or FAQs to answer common problems.

If you want to sell through the website, you’ll need to add an online shop which can take payments securely.

To stand out from the competition, make your website more interesting with multimedia content such as videos, music and animation.

If you want to build a community, add a forum and social tools for sharing your content. Also make sure the content you have is interesting enough to share – ideally it needs to provoke a debate or offer something people can’t find elsewhere.

What else do I need to think about?

Here are some of the other key things to consider.

  • Design – your website needs to look attractive and give a good impression. A clean, simple design looks more professional than a crowded and fussy one.
  • Navigation – how will your visitors get around the site? Don’t bury away key info in hard-to-find places – readers have short attention spans!
  • Accessibility – is it easy for people with disabilities to use your website? Can people use it through a smartphone, with a much smaller screen, or is it too difficult?
  • Web optimisation – you’ll need to ‘optimise’ the site to make sure search engines like Google can find you and list you properly, otherwise you won’t show up in search results.
  • Maintenance – who’s going to keep the site up to date, and how much time/effort is it going to take?
  • Marketing – it’s no good having a website if people don’t know it exists! How are you going to promote the site – both online and off?
  • Measuring success – to see how well your website’s doing over time, you’ll need to use a measurement service like Google Analytics.

A good web agency or digital consultant can help you out with all these decisions.

 

This article is provided only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal or other professional advice on the subject matter in question. You should not act or rely on information contained in this website without first seeking professional advice on the subject matter in question.

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