I have recently done a website review and upgrade for a client, and it struck me that it would be a great topic for a blog.
My experience with small businesses has ensured I have a very real understanding that your website presence is of utmost importance, but most don’t take the quality and minute detail of that presence seriously enough.
It doesn’t matter if your website if just a few pages – they should be slick, error free, pleasing to look at, interesting to read and the very image of how you want people to see your company.
The smallest things matter when it comes to your small business website … how do you feel when you see a typo in a company website, are confronted with pages of awful stock photos or the copy on the website is scrambled and unengaging.
Personally? My head tells me that none of these things is the end of the world! But, despite knowing that I can sometimes be a little picky about the details my reaction to seeing any of them is more than likely to be to immediately click the back button and look for another company with a more slick and professional online presence.
After all, if someone doesn’t have the care to catch a typo in their public shop window what is their attention to detail going to be like in dealing with my business? Harsh but true!
First impressions really do COUNT, and unless you are consistently over run with business this matters to you.
So, whilst doing a comprehensive review of this website here are few of the areas I covered that could apply to your own website, a few general rules to apply throughout first and then a some specifics …
This is essential and something a surprising number of people don’t do. You can get some great inspiration that you can put your personal brand spin on (remember though that plagiarising is NEVER on!) and having a comprehensive idea of what you counterparts are up to is never a bad thing.
Have a look at their home page whilst trying to look through the eyes of a client, compare it to yours and be honest about which you think is best. In all honesty you will probably see bits that are better and bits that are worse than yours but I would be very surprised if you didn’t get some ideas about changes you want to make after some time doing this.
One thing to remember – you are your own person and your own brand, don’t be tempted to change your essential essence!
Make It Quick And Easy To Skim
We live in an age of shortening attention spans, skim reading is a skill most of us default to without thinking about it.
Utilise whitespace, headers, bullet-points, buttons, etc. to allow people to see what all their options are in double quick time.
Rather like a blog … big blocks of type will immediately put the viewer you are trying to engage off. They simply won’t bother!
Everything Should Have A Specific Purpose
Be ruthless when editing,
- Do you need to say it?
- Have you said it before?
- Is there a shorter and punchier way to say it?
Remember – anything that isn’t encouraging your visitors to take positive action is distracting them from doing so.
Have you got one? I’ve got three, each with a different focus.
- Don’t Just Consider It, Get It Done
- Don’t Agonise, Organise
- Do What You Do Best, Delegate The Rest
Think about the problem you are solving for the client, your USP and then get onto google, type in Taglines and ‘your business purpose’ and seek out inspiration. It really won’t take long for the ideas to start flowing.
Don’t be cheesy though, no tag line is better than a bad one. Someone once suggested I should go for the ‘Time Genie’ and put little lamps all over my website. I did, and do, stll quite like the idea and perhaps it would be have been a great idea for someone else but ultimately not really the image I want to project … keep an eye on your consistent branding.
People really do love a picture, and there is lots of statistics on how a great visual presence will enhance your viewers interaction with your content.
There are some caveats to this … you really can’t just use any old picture.
- Use great quality pictures, blurry is not a good first impression
- Respect other peoples property, don’t steal other people images
- Stock photos are really the quickest way to put people off
- Be imaginative, you don’t have to be the same as everyone else
- Any image has to be relevant, don’t just use a pic because you love it
And no, great pictures don’t have to cost the earth if you know where to look.
My favourite source of pictures for websites, blogging, social media and all manner of things is Pixabay. Lots of variety, always great quality, completely free (although they do appreciate donations!) and attribution free. I’ve mentioned it a few times in blogs but it really is a fabulous site to have a wander around!
Like the front entrance to a shop, a house you are thinking about buying or the front cover of a book, people will, rightly or wrongly, judge your site by its homepage – maximize your kerb appeal. You need to ensure it’s designed and optimized in way that represents your business in the best possible light.
It isn’t just your potential customers who look at your home page either, for search engines it is the most important and most visited page on the site. When you are considering the words you need to keep this in mind, keywords really are key!
When you look at your home page and try to think from the perspective of a customer absorbing their first impression of a company they are potentially thinking about giving some of their hard earned cash to – what would you think in their position.
A few of the questions I ponder when looking at a client’s home page for the first time …
Are you talking about yourself … this is absolutely not the place to do it. The Home page should be focussing on the pain point of the client looking at it and saying how you can make their life better. Less ‘I’ and a whole lot more ‘you’ as it were.
Keep the copy to the point, think about what you want them to know and keep it strictly to that! Quantity definitely doesn’t trump quality here, resist the urge to give away the farm and stick to the things they will really want to know rather than all the things you are so keen to tell them.
Along similar lines do try keep your sentences short, of simple construction and jargon severely limited. You are not going to impress your audience with something that reads like a line from a physics dissertation, you will simply lose their attention and interest.
Your home page should be a seductive temptation to lead them into the rest of the site – keep it short, to the point, well spaced and attractive and you have a much better chance of getting them to delve further into your site to learn more.
More than likely this will be the second most visited page, people buy people and this is where you want to help your visitor understand who you really are and not just what you do.
As such this is the page to do a LOT of talking about how wonderful you are – it goes against most peoples instincts but sing your own praises! Without being a bore obviously 🙂 It is the one page where you can talk about yourself as much as you want.
Like with your CV think about what you want to highlight about your experience, best attributes, achievements and things like awards/ qualifications.
I don’t know about you but if you are anything like me this will be my next port of call if I have enjoyed everything I have seen so far.
Testimonials are a great addition to any site, and the absence of them is a red flag to most visitors.
Email past clients and ask if they would be kind enough to say a few words. As your clients are likely to be similarly busy people sometimes it helps to put a few words together yourself about what you did and ask them to embellish and personalise it.
If they were a great client think about putting a link to their website, everyone appreciates a little free publicity and exposure and perhaps in return they will do the same for you.
Remember – It is absolutely never a good idea to make them up though.
A Few Last Words
As a small business you should love your website, you should nourish and grow it with the same passion and eye for detail as you do with the rest of your business.
Revisit it regularly with fresh eyes and add, tweak, refine and update – as with the rest of your business it is not something you can just set up and forget about, as you grow so should it.
And if you want someone to pass a no obligation eye over it … just drop me a line, it is one of my favourite creative jobs for clients!