Have you ever visited a small business website, clicked on the links in the navigation bar, and been amazed to discover no content behind the links? This is the kind of user experience you want to avoid when you put your small business online because a bad experience means the potential customer probably isn’t coming back.
These days, it’s almost a race to put your small business online. As soon as you’ve conceived a viable business idea and determined exactly what you plan to sell, your next step is to buy a chunk of online real estate and slap up the website you built in an afternoon. This isn’t always the best strategy.
According to Kiplinger, it can cost upwards of $10,000 to get your hands on a professionally designed website. You don’t have to spend that much money to put your small business online, but you should know that design matters.
There are numerous templates (free and low-cost) available online, either through your web host or a third party. But an out-of-the-box website isn’t necessarily the best way to go. You’ll capture the attention of customers more effectively with a custom website that is built around your brand.
Consider hiring a web design firm before you put your small business online. In addition to providing you with an aesthetically pleasing design, they can also ensure your site is optimized for search engines and coded properly.
So Does Content
Blank web pages are annoying to potential customers who were prepared to part with their hard-earned cash only to discover you haven’t finished your job. Don’t put your small business online until you’ve got something to fill the pages of the site.
You can either write copy yourself or hire a freelance copywriter to take care of it for you. This doesn’t mean you need hundreds of pages of interesting content, but you should have enough for users to understand what your site is about. And you shouldn’t have links that don’t go anywhere.
Start with the basics: Home, About, Contact, Products/Services, and Business Policies pages. These will lay the foundation for an effective website and will allow you to get online. Then, over time, add more content, whether it’s pages for specific products or informative articles to educate your audience.
Take Your Time
It can be difficult to find a unique domain name that effectively describes your small business and hasn’t already been taken. It takes time to choose a web host that fits your budget and your technology needs. Don’t rush the process. Porting a site from one web host to another, or from one website builder to another, is often more trouble than it’s worth. Get it right the first time.
And remember that you shouldn’t put your small business online until you can project the image you want to be associated with your venture. Professionalism, competence, and dedication to quality can all be conveyed through a website-but the opposite is also true.