5 Easy Tips for A Successful Website

When starting a small business there are many things that need your attention – finances, marketing, getting customers, taxes, etc. One area I think owners overlook is their website.  A good trend that I’m seeing from people today is that they seem to understand the importance of having a website for their business, but they lack the knowledge and confidence to make it better.

Tips for Successful WebsiteA website is the center of your marketing world. It’s a place where people can visit your business 24 hours/day to learn about the services you provide. Personally, I think that many people are afraid of technology and are unfamiliar with the terms used by website designers, so they don’t reach out and contact a website professional for the fear of getting confused (which can be embarrassing) or the fear of being “taken for their money”.  They then turn to GoDaddy or similar company and plunk down a couple hundred bucks and buy a very basic, generic, plain looking website.

Figuring, “Well, I have a website now. What’s next on the list?”

…Your website shouldn’t just exist…it should work for you!

Unfortunately, I believe that many people create/buy a website and then, much like a dealer at a blackjack table, wave their hands and forget about it. Would you buy a car and never get the oil changed or wash it?  Would you buy a house and never clean it?

With millions, upon millions, of websites available you need to stand above the crowd. Much like finding Waldo in a sea of people, you need your website to catch a visitor’s eye. Then, once they’re there, show them what your business can offer.

Here a few tips to start getting more from your website. (This list could be very, very long so I’m going to try not only focus on the most important tips, but tips that someone with little website knowledge could do.)

Tip 1

Clean and Simple

So many times I visit a website and it feels like I’m having an encyclopedia thrown in my face. So much information at one time. You would have to be “Johnny 5” to get through the information. ( 80’s reference…you may need to look it up.) Your website shouldn’t look like a Wikipedia page.

Your website should be very clean and easy to use.  It should feel like your living room – comfortable, relaxing and easy to move around. You should have a main navigation area listing your pages. Your content should be in a legible font, like Tahoma, Veranda and fonts without all the little curls (serifs). It’s hard because you are so close to your business you think every piece of information is important. Sit back and be objective. Think to yourself… “From an objective business perspective, what’s the most important thing that a visitor should learn about me or my business within the first minute or two?”

You can always add information in later. Think Clean and Simple.

Tip 2

Current Information

There is nothing worse than outdated information on a website. People will leave your website so quickly it will make your head spin. People want to feel like you care about your own website as much as you would care about their business. When I see a footer of a website that says “copyright 2010”, I have to wonder…do I really want to spend my hard earned money on this website?

Having current information on your site is good practice. To add new content, you might want to add a blog where you can post articles on topics you are interested in.

Tip 3

Basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is very important in website design. There are people who dedicate their lives to learning about how to make websites rank better in search engines. In layman’s terms, Search Engine Optimization is a way that your website ranks in search engines so people can find your website. Google, Bing and others weigh the information on your site and rank your site so people can find information that is useful. For instance, if you have a word bolded in your text, Google thinks… “this word must be important because it’s bolded”.  The same can be said if it links to a another website/web page.

Editing your text with some simple SEO techniques can actually help you rank higher without too much effort.

Let’s say you are selling hamburgers. You want to highlight the word hamburger without going crazy.

Here is a sample paragraph about hamburgers where I will illustrate some simple SEO techniques.

The History of the Hamburger  (H1 or H2 tag)

The hamburger most likely first appeared in the 19th or early 20th centuries.The modern hamburger was a product of the culinary needs of a society that was rapidly changing due to industrialization, and therefore, people had less time to prepare as well as to consume meals.

hamburgerAmericans contend that they were the first to combine two slices of bread and a steak of ground beef into a “hamburger sandwich”. Part of the controversy over the origin of the hamburger is because the two basic ingredients, bread and beef, were prepared and consumed separately for many years before their combination. Shortly after its creation, the hamburger was prepared with all of the now typically characteristic trimmings, including onions, lettuce, and sliced pickles.

During the 20th century, there were various controversies, including a nutritional controversy in the late 1990s. The burger is now readily identified within the United States, and a particular style of cuisine, namely fast food. Along with fried chicken and apple pie, the hamburger has become a culinary icon in the United States.

 Tip 4

Expressive Content – You are good at what you do, and you can help their business.

Not everyone is a super copywriter and that’s okay. Your website content should be written in an easy, conversation style. You don’t want your website to be a user manual … unless it is a user manual.

When writing content for your website, you need to let your visitor know how you are going to help them with their problem or make their life easier. For instance, we recently purchased a water fountain filter for our sink. Our water is good but doesn’t taste so good. The website we purchased our filter from told us how much we would enjoy our water if we bought their product. They solved a problem I had. It may sound simple, but always ask yourself when writing content, “If I was a visitor to my own website, would this language tell me how my problem will be fixed?”

Tip 5

Call to Action – What do You Want Me To Do?

A Call to Action button is a common term you might hear from a web designer. It’s usually a button/image that is large and colorful and links to something on your website you really want your visitor to do. You want the visitor to do something like get more information, look at something, or download something. For instance, if you were selling a book you might have a button that makes people want to click on the image to learn more.

Example image –

call-to-action-example

 

The only requirement for a Call To Action button is that is stands out from the content on your website.

 

Hopefully these simple tips will help you with your small business website.

Get Your Website Visitors to stay longer with Great Pictures

“A picture is worth 1000 words”….

I remember hearing that once, twice – or a million times!

As a web designer, I learned early on the importance of having good pictures on your website. Having professional looking images on your website will help set the tone and effectiveness of your site.

When a visitor comes to your website, they are usually there 3-5 seconds. In that amount of time they are judging whether your website is worth staying on or if they should leave. It’s pretty scary if you think about it. You have 3-5 seconds to grab their attention and get your message across. One way to get visitors to stay a little longer is to use professional looking images that will grab their attention while helping explain what you offer.

Young couple eating pizzaFor example, if you ran a pizza parlor, you should have professional looking pictures of your pizza large and easy to see right on your homepage. Although, wouldn’t it be better to have a great photo of a group of people actually enjoying your pizza? This would be a picture that would convey to the visitor..”look, we have good pizza and people are happier when eating our pizza”. In addition, pictures help add credibility to your business. Good images help build a trust between you and the prospective client. You don’t need to a have a large budget to have a website with good looking pictures.

 

3 Tips on Creating a Website with Great Pictures …

 1. Hire A Professional Photographer

If you are a professional business such as a law firm, dentist, doctor, etc., it’s very important to have a professional picture of yourself and your office. You don’t want to ask your buddy to come on down and bring his iPhone to takes some pictures – even if it’s his hobby. A visitor to your website might think, “If they don’t care enough to take a professional picture, how can they be trusted to care about my problem?”

 2. Stock Photography is Your Friend

There are many great stock photography websites out there to help you get wonderful images. They range in price from $1 – $100’s. The nice thing about stock photography is you can find an image just by searching a term. Photodune is my favorite stock photography website because I think they have the best balance of price and quality. Some stock photography is very poor quality, so you still have to be on guard, but you should be able to find a quality picture of what you are looking for fairly easily.

Let’s use Photodune to find an image of a dog. (The bottom of this post has some links to great stock photography websites.)

PhotoDune Website Screenshot –

Notice the search bar at the top right as well as navigation listing common categories. We are going to type “dogs” in the search bar.

photodune

Photodune screenshot looking for “dogs”

Well, we found a bunch of pictures of dogs. You can now scroll through all the pages looking for just the right image. Once you’ve found the image you want, just click on it.

photodune-dog

Photodune screenshot looking at buying options

Most, if not all, stock photography websites give you options to buy different sizes. If you are blogging the smallest size usually works well.

photodune-size

 

 3. Avoid Too Many Pictures on Your Website

Some people take the advice of using photography on their site to a new level and basically turn their website into a photo gallery. Remember, images are there to accentuate your website – not to be your sole source of content. If you have too many images, people gloss over and leave the site. Pictures are like a nice rug for your floor. A good rug can highlight a beautiful dinner table quite nicely, but having rugs laying all over your home would not have the same effect. You’re not going for a hodge podge collection, only something to highlight your already good content.

If you have a small business, I highly recommend getting a professional to take pictures of you, your restaurant, your office, your products, etc. Then use trusted stock photography to help fill in and enhance your website with great images.

Some Stock Photography Websites:

1.photodune.net

2.istockphoto.com

3.shutterstock.com

4.dreamstime.com

5.bigstockphoto.com