How to Design a Good Business Website (Part 1)

Designing a website is one of the most important things you’ll ever do as a business owner. We live in an age where customers turn to the internet for instant information, so businesses without websites or businesses with poorly designed websites are at a significant disadvantage. When designing your business’s website, it is important to realize just how impatient customers truly are and to account for that by making your website as sleek and easy to navigate as possible. The following points are directed at business owners who are creating a website from scratch, but many of them are also applicable to business owners with an existing (albeit shabby) website that they’re looking to improve.

1. Choose your domain name wisely.

Your domain name (the name under which your website is registered) has the potential to make or break the memorability of your website. If you choose a domain name like RedCaps.com, for example, it’s much more likely to attract customers than a domain name like xXRed-Caps3958rc.com. The fact is, the former simply sounds better, and it is also much easier to convey to others, especially via word of mouth. When choosing a domain name, it’s also important for small businesses to choose something that will help them to maximize their chances of being listed as a result under certain search terms. For example, if you’re a Chevrolet dealer located in York, Pennsylvania, then you’ll want to choose a domain name that reflects possible search terms for which you’d like to turn up as a result. Something like BetterThanToyotas.com may seem like a clever choice, but choosing a domain name like ChevroletsYorkPA.com or ChevysInYorkPA.com would be a much wiser decision.

2. Spend some time on your homepage.

Your homepage is arguably the most important part of your website. It’s the first thing visitors see when they land on your page, so it’s your first opportunity to make a good impression. An uncluttered, well-organized, and clearly laid out homepage is your best bet for keeping visitors on your page. Your home page serves one main purpose: to tell visitors who you are and what you do and/or what your website does. This should not be confused with an About Us page, which, although important, is a separate page of the website because it goes into much more depth than the homepage ever should. Information about your business’s most basic function should be clearly visible; readers should not have to sort through paragraph upon paragraph of overly-detailed or irrelevant information just to determine what kind of business you are. Remember, while you’re familiar with what your business does, many of your website’s viewers will be completely new to your business, so they’ll need a basic introduction.

Your homepage should not be cluttered, but it should also not be barren. You should find a balance between the two – a happy medium with plenty of color, interesting text, and relevant images, all without overcrowding the space on your homepage. Not only does having too many pictures, videos, sound clips, etc. make your homepage less attractive and more difficult to navigate, but it also serves to slow your page’s loading time significantly. While this may not seem like a big deal, having a page that is too slow to load could cost you legions of potential customers. Studies indicate that new customers are willing to wait only 3-8 seconds for your page to load before navigating away from your website to a competitor’s page, so it is essential that you design a page that loads promptly.

3. Include smart menu options.

One of the most irritating things you can encounter as a website user is the absence of a well-designed menu. The purpose of the menu bar is to make your website easier to navigate, and it should include links to all the important pages of your site. Links to the homepage, contact information, product pages, hours of operation, and all other important pages of your website should be included in the menu, and the menu should be present on every single page of your website. This reduces or eliminates the need for website viewers to back-click countless times in order to return to an old location or navigate to a new location, which greatly increases your website’s ease of use. Just remember, no page on your website should ever be a dead end. The menu bar assures that this will never happen.

Finally, the labels for each of your menu items should indicate very clearly what type of information they’ll lead to. For example, if a customer wants to find a business’s hours of operation, should they look under the heading titled Information, Visiting Us, or Contact Information? The answer is unclear, but it shouldn’t be. Choose your menu headings in such a way that first time visitors will know exactly where to go to find what they’re looking for.  Alternatively, consider including the most important information (phone numbers, hours of operation, fax numbers, email addresses, etc.) on the bottom or side of every page so your website visitors don’t have to search for these things at all.

When designing a website for your business, remember that this website will act as an ambassador in your stead. Therefore, it is important to design the site carefully by choosing your domain name wisely, including good menu options, and paying careful attention to the development of your home page.

About Sozo Firm

Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, a/b split testing, and website visitor analytics. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.

About Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency & marketing consultant, provides business advisory services for clients in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; York, Hanover, Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA regions. Andrew advises regarding business growth, productivity, efficiency, business startups, customer service, and online/offline marketing. Follow Andrew on Google+

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