These days, everybody wants everything to be online.

Whatever you can think of – an electrician to wire in some new sockets, cakes for a kid’s birthday party, even dentistry and GPs – if you’re looking to sell then being available on the internet isn’t negotiable; it’s critical.

Consumer behaviour has changed. Your customers want to find what they need online, and they want to be able to trust the businesses they buy from. The long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on shopping habits, combined with the likes of Amazon offering more and more ‘traditional’ goods like groceries, is making it ever-harder for businesses to operate purely in a bricks-and-mortar fashion. This means that having a clearprofessional and robust internet presence is essential, particularly if you want to ask people to pay you online.

To be fair, making ‘a’ website isn’t hard – there are plenty of big internet companies who will sell you a hosting plan and some templates, and leave you to figure it out. That’s great if you have the time and knowledge, but not so great if you don’t. It can cost more time and money than you anticipate, and the results are by no means guaranteed.

Here are five key things to remember when creating a site that works for visitors, and that will give you a competitive advantage:

1. Too Much Stuff!

We only have a finite number of things we can focus on at once. A site that bombards the senses is likely to decrease what’s called ‘cognitive ease’ – and as a result can drive people away from your business. Detail is important – but it needs to be in the right place. Think about how you got to this post, for example – you clicked a ‘Read more’ button…we didn’t throw all this text at you on our front page! How your site is designed makes a huge difference to its usability and accessibility.

(Ironically, I spent ten minutes trying to find a picture of a cluttered website to put here, to illustrate this point – but they all made the page look, well, cluttered!)

2. Know what your customer wants and give it to them – quickly

Any small business owner knows that the customer is always right…right? Well, anyone who’s worked in Customer Services might have a different take on that…but the customer is always right in one respect – if they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, chances are they won’t stick around looking for it. You know your business better than anyone else, which means you know what your customer wants to know about your product or service. That information – be it price, availability, delivery costs, technical specifications or anything else – needs to be right on the surface of your website, not hidden in a maze of menus and clicks.

3. Know how to translate your business online

It’s easy to throw a site together when your business is something that is obviously at home online; like building websites, for example! If however your business usually trades in the ‘real world’, then working out how to make it work online can be a challenge. For example, an electrician can’t quote for a job without looking at it first, so trying to set up an online quoting system is likely to be tough. (But not impossible – get in touch if that’s what you want!) Recognising what value you can add during the online interaction is key to getting a site that works best for your potential customers.

4. Don’t forget marketing!

Having a SHINY NEW WEBSITE! is great. Having no-one look at your SHINY NEW WEBSITE! is less great. In the same way that you had to build your reputation and reach in the real world, you have to do the same on the internet. This is not as simple as it might sound – and whilst there aren’t really many shortcuts you can take, you can make it much harder than it needs to be. This is why we offer marketing consultation and planning alongside our design process, so that you can make the most of your SHINY NEW WEBSITE! – and get maximum return on investment.

5. Content Is King

Following on from marketing, it remains the case that a website that exists as a snapshot in time is not going to perform as well as a site that is always being updated. This is why so many sites have news or blog sections – search engines like Google love fresh content and will rank your site higher for keyword searches if they see lots of updates. How do you provide ongoing value to your customers, and keep them returning? This question is just as important online as it is in the real world.

Final Thoughts

Making a site that works for you – and your customer base – is a challenge that we have lots of experience in meeting, and without breaking your bank to do so. Get in touch with us today and discover how you can take your business to the next level with Simple Web Services.