Most SMEs don’t need an expensive website. In fact, this is often seen as luxury that small business owners can’t afford.
For the small business owner, a website that is affordable, communicates the business’ key message and unique selling proposition while supplying visitors with accurate contact information is sufficient. However, this can often mean the difference between a business’ failure or success.
An online presence will enhance the image and reputation of a business while increasing its visibility to its target market. However, if the company’s web presence is not managed effectively, the opposite result could occur.
A well designed website will allow small businesses to compete with larger corporates. Conversely, a poorly executed website is often counter-productive, causing frustration to visitors and damaging the company’s reputation.
Here are five steps to a great – and efficient – website.
What are your key messages?
Firstly, it is of utmost importance to ensure that the business’ key messages are communicated succinctly and in language which is easily understandable to any layperson. Visitors should be able to identify the crux of the value proposition which the company is offering within a few seconds.
If this information is not readily accessible, visitors will likely look elsewhere. If the content of the website is perceived as being useful to visitors, they will return to the site.
Stay up to date
Businesses should also updated their websites often to ensure that all information remains relevant and correct; keep the web content rich. This is essential in maintaining a professional message, ensuring that visitors are not frustrated by outdated information which is no longer precise or applicable.
An added benefit to customers would be the addition of an ‘update’ mailer which can be sent to clients once any data on the website has been adjusted. This also becomes a useful tool when announcing new developments or news occurring within the business.
Spell check is your friend
It is critical that accurate spelling and grammar is maintained on the website and in mailers sent. Immense brand damage will be done if a visitor spots spelling or grammatical errors, as this breaks down the professional image of the business and calls its capabilities into question.
It is also important that the language be kept simple so as to be easily understandable. According to the UN Telecoms Agency, 107 trillion emails were sent globally in 2011. Resultantly it is advisable that mailers and web content be kept short and to the point; this will increase the chances that all of the information will be read.
Linking one’s website to social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Hello Peter, etc. is vital.
In addition, your website should have a testimonials or comments page to allow visitors and customers to feel they have a voice. Although this may open one’s company up to some comments regarding poor service, it also allows the opportunity for the company to address these problems on a public platform; potential clients are more likely to trust a business that does not see itself as above reproach.
The further function of the social platforms is to increase the web presence of the business in a cost effective manner.
Be a do gooder
Lastly, according to Raymond Ackerman, ‘doing good is good business’. It is therefore advisable for companies to highlight their Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development initiatives on their websites. However, it is crucial to keep this information relevant.
Customers are drawn to businesses that give back and care about the communities in which they operate in, as well as the environment.