You already know that you need to have a website for your small business, but when prospective customers click on your URL, they can either decide to buy your product or service (or go to your brick-and-mortar store), or keep surfing the web for alternatives. As a successful business professional, I know that these are the traits that the most successful websites share:
1. Fast loading time: This means smaller pictures and no mandatory flash intros. When a prospective customer is surfing the web, they have thousands of different sites available to them, so if your web site takes more than a moment or two to load, then they will go elsewhere. Since you have been checking your site on your computer, your internet browser has been saving “cookies” (bits of data from your website) to save you time the next time you visit the site. To find out the true loading time of your site for first time visitors, clear the cache on your internet browser, and then visit your site.
2. No music! : This one gets an exclamation point, since it’s important for two reasons. First, music adds to the time your web site will take to load (see number 1). The second reason is that often the prospective customer browsing your web site is also eating her lunch in a cubicle at the office, where loud music is frowned upon, or while watching television at night, when music would not be welcome.
3. Easy to read text: While your web site should be more developed than a white page with size 12 Times New Roman writing, it should still be easily legible. Stay away from announcements that are all in capital letters, light colored writing on a white background, or dark lettering on a black background. Before your web site goes live (or if you are re-designing it) reach out to a wide variety of friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances to preview it. Different browsers may show colors differently, and what is aesthetically pleasing to you may be hard for someone else to read.
4. Contact form: Having your contact information – including hours, if applicable, a phone number, and e-mail address is essential, but the best websites go one step further, and have a contact form that prospective customers can fill in, right on the website. This saves your would-be client from having to copy your e-mail address, open up his e-mail client and formulate an e-mail to you. Making it easy is what will make you money.
5. Shopping cart: If you’re selling goods, then it’s essential that you make it easy for your customers to purchase them. Paypal offers and easy to set up cart program, or you can hire a web designer to create a more integrated one. Starting with Paypal though is a great step for a small business, because it is free, and the Paypal logo is trusted by millions of consumers, which will translate to a greater willingness to shop at a website they are unfamiliar with.
Adding these components to your website is a great way to increase the time your potential customers and clients spend looking at your products and services, and the likelihood that each of them will make a purchase.