Most Small business websites are half decent looking these days and it is a shocker! Having an outdated business website can do more harm than not having one at all.
Having a well designed website that markets, sells, engages and builds a rapport with your customers in today’s time is a necessity. As business owners we are often working on so many other things that we neglect our online presence.
We have compiled a list of 8 simple elements that each small business website should have in today’s world in order to become successful, sharable and trusted on Online landscape.
- Look of your website – is it engaging enough? Our online world is crowded and it’s getting busier each day. The first 20 seconds that each customer spends on your website are crucial. If your website offers what they are looking for they will stay on the webpage for more information, otherwise they are most likely to never return back. You as a business owner need a website that conveys to your clients, what you have to offer, how you do what you do, and why they should choose you instead of others in same space. Clean looking website that resonates with your clients/ customer base and at same time conveys your message without having an overcrowded web page is a must.
- Header and logo: When it comes to logo design there is nothing too flashy or too simple. Your logo needs to clearly represent you as a brand. Focus on the header of your website. It is more important now than ever to build your brand and have your customers remember you by that brand. In this example the logo clearly represent what they do and also how they do it. If you are a store selling products and want to enter the online retail space, your website needs to carry forward the same look, feel and experience that your physical store does. Personal branding with your name being used in the logo is necessary in case of lawyers, corporate law firms, medical offices, bloggers and solo-entrepreneurs.
- Navigation: It’s important that you keep the links in the header to a minimum. Users who are visiting your site for the first time should have clear road map to your site and should be able to find the information they are looking for with minimum clicks as possible. Business sites should typically not have more than 6-7 menu links. If you have lot of pages of information and services, a side bar with quick links serves better than to have 15 navigation buttons in the header.
- Landing pages: If you are purely into doing business online in any shape or form, you need landing pages with one sole purpose and that is to convert traffic into leads. Landing pages are tempting sneak peaks designed specifically to lead your customers to fill out the form and ask for more details or buy instantly. They can be entirely different in design than rest of your website. If you are running a Google Adwords campaign you have the flexibility of choosing specific landing pages for different keywords too. Experiment with 2-3 different designs, see which page has the most conversion, tweak the designs and you will see higher click through rate coupled with good lead generation.
- Sidebars: These are great tools to showcase your products, features and specials. These sticky bars are more often seen on right or left side of main content of your website, that have information that stays same for most of the pages of your website. You need to harness the space that this sticky bar offers. It’s a great space to roll out specials, offer your customers some opt-in-offers to sign up for your specials. Different things you can have in your side bar are and not limited to:
- Quick links to your products/ specials
- E-book introductory offer
- Recent blog posts quick links
- Facebook or twitter feed
- Sign up to your bootcamp: Limited seats available!
- Video or magazine or featured links: That improves your credibility.
- Introductory/descriptive Videos: Using videos on your website is huge. It gives you the perfect opportunity to connect with your audience. Videos need to be short, descriptive and engaging. If you were featured on some news channel, use that video to showcase and at same time harness the power of social approval of a media giant. If not grab your iPhone or cam corder and record a short video yourself. All businesses need a video on their website, on home page or about us page. It acts as a window of communication with your potential clients. Don’t forget to add a little bit of humor, there is nothing like watching a fun informative video.
- Social Media Integration: If you are a small business, you need to be social. You need to tell the world you are here and you mean business. And you can’t do this without going social. You need to be where your clients are and most importantly it allows you to communicate with your audience. You can take their feedback, improve your service or products and listen to their input. Have social media links in the header, footer or side bar where they can be seen. You can also choose to show the live feed if your accounts are fairly active.
- Contact us: All businesses need to have a contact us page. It is where your clients can place an inquiry and contact you. It also builds the credibility of your website by including a phone number, physical address, email address etc. There are numerous ways to design and implement the contact us form. If you do lot of business from your physical office location it is a plus to include driving directions by implementing a Google map into your contact us page. It also serves a positive to make a local Google plus page which has your address on it. It shows up on the search results in your local search instantly. For most businesses, the contact us form acts as the inquiry form too. It can be placed on the main home page, in the sticky bar and also have its own separate contact us page. If you do not wish to have the full form on the main page, you can include a small well designed button that says contact us and redirects the user to the contact us page.
We would love to hear your ideas on how to improve online presence and ideas and tweaks that you think are a must for every small business owner. Tasks Everyday web virtual assistants design and develop business websites, so if you are looking to create a new website for your business or want to tweak the existing website, get in touch with us now and let us help you go online in style!
Like any other business, we like to learn and analyze and write case studies that benefit other clients. When it comes to outsourcing web design, we have outlined a step-by-step guide to help make your website project as easy as it can be.
Why you need to Outsource your Website Design
Cost Advantage of outsourcing: You need a website and you can’t afford somebody local. We as business owners make decisions all the time, the one’s that can increase or decrease our costs, and web design is something that everyone needs. www keeps on evolving. It’s something we can’t do without, and it isn’t something you can do on your own, as you don’t have the time, or the skills needed to catch up to the latest must have’s or don’t do’s and all those fancy jargon that technology throws at us.
How to make website design a stress free affair
Writing Clear instructions and relaying your ideas go a long way: The better and more detailed you are in doing so, it saves you a headache and lot of time in the long run, doing revisions. Imagine, I send you an email “attached my logo file, create a design based on this and wow me”. Failure to relay what exactly you want to your virtual assistant, often results in designs that are complete opposite of what you had in mind, and you swear off never to outsource ever again. To avoid such frustration we have laid out simple steps to help you in the process.
So here’s how you can make your next website project stress free, the one that saves you time and money.
Step 1: The layout or the Framework
You need to have a basic idea on what you want your website to look like and the functionality. Most often, we lay too much importance on the looks that the functional part is left out.
- How do you want your website to “look” like: Let’s talk about design purely: Example sites act as a very good point of reference for your virtual assistant.
- You can select about 3-5 different websites and pick what you like most about them.
from reference site 1 abcdotcom, I like the blog layout, registration forms are great on xyzdotcom and would like to have something similar.
- Pick the colors, if you more techy, you can send the pantone shade numbers, if not there are software’s like colorloversdotcom to help you choose the perfect palette. Or you can just say lets keep it blue and grey like this sample website colors.
- If you already have a website and a business and would like to retain few elements of your original design for branding purposes, please mention that. This can be true for a winery website, architecture firm, law firms and many other industries.
- You can select about 3-5 different websites and pick what you like most about them.
- Functionality: There is no point having a pretty website that does not have the functions you want. Say you want a shopping cart function on your website, you need to decide first hand which shopping cart platform has the features you like the most. There are numerous open source-shopping carts each one more promising than the other, but you need to identify what fits your needs. Second example can be, having users register of sign up as members to your website, or you want users to post listings or make reservations, or any other functionality you want to have, needs to be clearly mentioned to your web design assistant at the initial stages.
Step 2: Managing the Project
Once your assistant knows the goals and understands your ideas based on your project design needs and functionality described above, your virtual worker can suggest you the best possible designs and solutions to achieve those. To keep the process streamlined and for best results, follow the simple steps below:
- Mockups: Ask your assistant to make mockups before he starts coding. so that everyone is on the same page.
- Edits and feedback: Positive criticism and timely feedback is very necessary. if there is something you don’t like, before you jump the gun, ask your assistant, why he or she chose to have it that certain way. You can send screenshots, ppt, or write simple steps to make the edits or changes to the mockups designed.
- Managing your project on daily basis: You can use certain online tools that are mostly free like basecamp, balsamiq, and so many other project management tools and engage in discussions, upload files, provide feedback, or you can do this simply via email. Follow the method that works best for you.
- Set timelines: Your virtual assistant should be accountable for delivering the project in the defined timelines as long as they are realistic. Creating accountability is important to manage your projects. Especially if you have multiple projects going on at same time.
- Share files and folders: We always advocate of using time in best ways possible. Web design often involves sharing large files and can be time consuming and tedious. Thanks to technology now you can do so with a click. Online software’s like google drive, docs, dropbox, you send it, boxit and so many other software’s can help you share and manage all your files smoothly.
- Dealing with issues: If you come across something you don’t like. don’t say “ I don’t like it, or Really? is this the best you can do?” without giving out clear details on what you want to change, or how would you rather have it done. Lack of sending out clear instructions, can prove futile for both parties and will frustrate you and your virtual assistant. The most important way to make this virtual relation work is to be specific, positive and be open to discussion in good times and bad.
- Testing your final Product: Testing out the features before making your project live is crucial. After Functionalities like logins, forms, listings, shopping cart, sign up forms, social media links etc, its time to sit back and wait for the results to show.
Conclusion: The world of outsourcing and working with someone based half way across the world can be confusing when you first start out. As you get a few projects older, you realize how did you ever ran your business or manage your daily tasks without your virtual assistants. Outsourcing is your secret weapon, that gives you leverage of time and cost over your competitors and your virtual assistants become a part of your team.