Many “brick and mortar” small businesses are choosing to have a website in order to establish their presence on the Internet. Having an online presence is a great way of getting an edge over competitors in your industry – it allows you to tap into a whole new stream of prospective customers who are searching for your products or services on the Internet.

The barriers to entry when creating a business website are low. However, if you do decide to create an online presence for your organization, make sure that you create a website that enhances rather than detracts from the customer’s perceptions.

Here are some essential tips for creating a good website for your business:

Company Brand

Make sure that your website is in alignment with your company brand. If you sell physical goods and services through your shop front, keep in mind that your website is the equivalent of a online showroom. You are showcasing your business on the internet to prospective customers, so make sure that your website evokes a style and image congruent with your business branding.

Menu Bar

Your website should use a menu bar that makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. Keep it clean and simple – make sure you include the essential categories such as an About page that explains your company’s mission to your prospective customers, a category for information about your products and services, and a Contact Us page so customers can make enquiries. Try to avoid clutter on your website – don’t make your website look crowded with non-essential information.

Navigability

A good way to test your website’s navigability is to ask a friend who has never seen the site to visit it. Observe where they first go when they start to navigate around your website. Ask them for feedback on their experience of visiting your website – both good and bad. And take note of any problems that they encountered whilst surfing your website, and make sure that you get these fixed.

Make Life Easy for the Search Engines

Along with providing useful information for your customers, make sure that your website is properly set up so that the search engines can find it. A site map is one feature that you can add to your website – it provides a road map for the search engines to find all the pages on your website as well as providing visitors with another way to navigate around your website. Site maps are especially useful for larger, more complex websites, which can be confusing for customers to find their way around.

Call to Action

When visitors arrive at your website, consider giving them a “call to action”. A common call to action is to get your visitors to subscribe to your company email newsletter, via an opt in form. Subscribers will then receive a periodic email newsletter alerting them to new products, sales on special items, or the latest news about your company.

Your website is the virtual shop front for your business. With the continuing growth of the Internet customer base, it has never been more important to make a good impression on prospective customers and make the experience of visiting your website a pleasant one – a well designed website will help attract and retain more satisfied online customers!