When designing a website for your business, it is important to remember that the first seven seconds is critical for your audience. Within those first seven seconds, they will make a snap decision about whether or not to stay on your website, and more importantly if it is likely to provide them with the information, product or service they are after.
The time a user spends on your webpage is also known as the bounce rate. The lower the bounce rate the more time the user is spending on your website.
When designing a website for your business, the homepage should be carefully planned and strategically thought out. The layout and navigation of the homepage needs to be “dummy proof”. The content should be easy to read and your product or service offering should be easy to understand and capture the user’s attention with several seconds.
If a user starts to become confused or unsure about your product or service offering(s), you will lose them immediately.
When designing your small business website, there should be focus on ensuring your homepage achieves the following four outcomes:
- Increase the number of first time visitors who stay and browse the rest of your website
- Increase the number of visitors who return to your site
- Increase the areas of the site visitors interact with
- Instruct (or guide) the user to take some form action (also known as call to action items).
As soon as a web user hits your website, the first question they want to answer is “Will this website provide me with the product, service or information I am searching for?”
Be succinct with headlines
This question is normally determined very quickly so the user can move on to another site if it doesn’t meet their needs. You have literally only seconds to capture their attention and engage with them.
When designing a website for your business, it’s a good idea for a clear position statement that outlines what your business is about and what your business does. This statement should be immediately obvious. Ensure that it is prominent, clear and conveys this message without any ambiguousness.
For example, a large headline on your homepage that states “We offer managed IT services in Perth” is far easier for a brand new website visitor to understand than if it were technical or gobbledegook, such as “Multi-threaded IT support providers for ease of mind in business”.
For new visitors it is important that your service or offerings are clear and obvious on the homepage. They should not be buried within other pages or in small print at the bottom of the page.
Another reason this is important is that return visitors (repeat visitors) may never know about any of your additional service offerings or what they are.
Use great web images
As the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Your homepage images should enhance the written message and aid the user in determining what your business is about and what you are offering.
It’s easy to rely on phone camera photos taken by one of your employees, however getting professional photographs can really change your entire look and brand. This professional image can also be achieved by using stock photography, if you choose well.
Update your content frequently
When designing a website for your business, ensure you allow for regularly updated content areas. Is there anything new on your website? Updating content frequently is important as it keeps your website dynamic as well as engaging your visitors.
That old cliche is so true – content really is king! This fresh content also encourages visitors to return to your website regularly.
Ensure that the content is helpful as well. Don’t just publish an advertorial. For example, if you were a small business coach, consider publishing articles about improving small business. If you are a fashion store, maybe publish blog posts about how fabric is bought ethically from fair trade or how to measure a new pair of shoes, etc.
For new visitors, publishing new content that is frequently updated builds your reputation which adds credibility to your website and business. If there are regularly new things on your website, it helps relay the message that the website is not obsolete, and that you are definitely open for business.
It can also be interpreted by visitors that your business website is visited regularly by others visitors who return to your website for relevant updated information or news.
When designing a website for your business, it’s a good idea to keep at least one section of the website fresh with continual updates (a news section or blog is a really good way to achieve dynamic content).
Show me where to click next
Call to action items assist users by directing them where to take action and what to click on. Ideally every page of your website should call the user to take action e.g. filling in online enquiry, making a purchase, subscripting to a mailing list or booking for an event etc.
Why some websites make a poor first impression
This happens if the business owner decides the website layout and/or content based on what they perceive to be the interests of their customers without having a solid understanding of their customers actual needs and wants.
Also, in many cases, the goal or goals of the website have not been clearly defined and documented. If a small business owner just starts designing a website for your business, and hasn’t consulted within someone who is experienced in these areas with a proven track record of achieving the type of results they are seeking, then they reduce the likelihood of their website being a successful business tool.
I trust that the above tips help you in designing a website for your business that attracts and engages your audience, and conveys the right brand messaging for you.
Remember to ensure you use succinct titles on pages, good quality images, frequently updated content, and overall ensure that your website speaks to the needs and wants of your ideal customer, not of yourself.
About the Author
Lauren Clarke writes guest posts for a number of clever brands and media outlets around the world. Lauren loves red wine, bush walks and meditating. You can find Lauren on Twitter.