There are certain features that are specific to particular niches or that would ideally only work for certain industries, and then there are those features that every website should include; regardless of the niche or industry. These are features that, if you get them wrong, it could be costly in the way of customer acquisition or conversions. We’ve put together a list of features we believe every small business website should include; regardless of the niche or industry you fall under.
Friendly Color Scheme
Color scheme can be a bit tricky. Most people think it is relative, but really it’s not. Yes, certain accent colors will work better for some niches and industries than others. However, in reference to color scheme, we’re primarily referring the friendliness of the chosen colors. There’s a few rules you need to adhere to when selecting the colors of your website.
Select Light Background Color
You need to select a light colored background. White is a good rule of thumb. I personally, stay away from any other color, but if I do decide to be a rebel, and try something out of my norm, it is usually a very light gray. Perhaps the color I see misused the most for backgrounds is black. Black is usually the go to color when you are going for “badass” or edgy. I get the inclination to go that route, but it’s a mistake. Black is not easy on the eyes and can be overwhelming to many users. It’s a great accent color, but not the best background choice. If you decide to go against my advice, and go for a color other than white or light gray, I suggest going for light background colors that are not too bright.
Split Test Darker Accent Colors
Since you will have a light background, you want accent colors that contrast the light background. This is where you can get more creative and experiment with different colors and shades to see what is aesthetically pleasing, while making sure it is complimentary to your niche or industry. I strongly recommend you split test different colors to see which one’s appeal to your niche or industry. Once you find the best performing color, then split test different shades to tune in on the shade that works best for your market.
Use Bright Colors Sparingly To Grab Attention
You can use a few pops of bright colors sparingly, to grab attention throughout the text, or draw the eye to certain elements of the page, but it shouldn’t be the main accent color. Try finding colors that complement the accent color, so it looks good and ties in with it, but make sure it stands out since the whole point is to grab attention. Ideal places to use bright colors would be text highlights and call-to-action buttons.
Play It Safe With Fonts
It can be tempting to try out a new font on your website, but not all browsers will show users the font that you design your site around, so it is best to stick with common fonts that are web friendly. Arial, Times Roman, and Verdana are all great fonts to roll with. You also want to limit any variation if you using multiple fonts on a page. To many variations can get messy and make for a bad visual appeal.
Use A Simple Logo Design
This is another area I see so many small business owners get wrong. As a proud business owner, it makes perfect sense to want to get fancy with your logo. However, a logo with too much detail does not translate well in all the different applications it has to be used in. You want your logo to be easily recognizable in every possible application. Logos with too much detail, lose a lot of that detail when sized according to it’s placement. In my world, a bad logo usually becomes apparent when resizing it to fit in the header. When it comes to logos, simple is best. Look at the logos of billion dollar companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Coke. Their logos are all extremely simple, and easily recognizable.
It’s really difficult to get a business owner to change their logo; especially if it’s one they’ve had a while and has been distributed all over the Internet. This is why it is extremely important to get it right the first time. Don’t get too discouraged if you’ve already made the mistake of choosing a bad logo. The important thing is to acknowledge that it is not the best logo for long-term success, and to be willing to make the necessary transition to correct it. Choose a logo designer that is knowledgeable of industry best practices, and has a portfolio that reflects simplistic designs that are versatile yet represent the business owner in the best way.
Boldly Display A Phone Number
In a world where everyone has concerns of being scammed, it’s important to give visitors as much reassurance as possible that you are not out to screw them over. Simply placing a phone number in the header of your small business website gives you automatic credibility and helps to settle concerns. It shows them that you have nothing to hide. The phone number should be big and bold, so that it can easily be seen.
Include A Video Introduction
Video is a popular way users like to consume content. It grabs attention, helps present you as an expert in your field, and keeps users engaged on your site for longer periods of time. As a small business owner fighting for the attention of customers over your competitors, it’s extremely important to incorporate video marketing into your content strategy.
There are several types of videos to consider including 3D animations, white board explainer videos, and live spokesperson. All of these different videos have their place, and certain video types will work better for certain niches and industries and for certain purposes than others. For example, 3D animations may be a turnoff to potential clients in industries that are considered more serious in nature such as lawyers and doctors. Then, again, it all depends on the niche. Therefore, when it comes to video, it’s best to test different types of videos for effectiveness. Don’t just assume it won’t work for your niche or industry. It might just surprise you.
Display A Call To Action Above The Fold
Have you ever been to a website and weren’t sure what exactly to do next? If so, that website probably wasn’t using a call-to-action (CTA), and if they were, they weren’t doing it the right way. A call-to-action is simply stating what you want the visitor to do. It will depend on your niche or industry, the product or service you are offering, and should direct visitors to the next step you want them to take.
For example, if you are a hair salon, you want users to book an appointment. If you are a lawyer, you might want visitors to call for a consultation. If you are an ecommerce site, you want people to shop or buy it now. Whatever is the next action you want people to take, after landing on your site, is what you must communicate to them right away.
Therefore, the CTA needs to be placed above the fold. That is, the call-to-action, should be placed near the top of the page; before they have to scroll. It should be clearly visible and should stand out. Think about those bright colors we discussed; concerning color schemes. This is where you want to draw the visitors attention and direct them to the desired action.
Every website should have a contact page. If someone is on your website, it is possible they are interested in what you have to offer. However, questions may come up. Visitors expect to see a contact page. This is the first page they will look if they need to get questions answered. Your contact page should have all the information necessary for a person to be able to reach out for customer support.
Your contact page should include all possible methods of getting in touch with you. Depending on your setup, it might include some or all of the following:
- Phone number
- Physical address
- Email address or contact form
- Link to live chat
- Link to a ticketing system
- Links to social media
Map of Location
If you have a physical location that is open to the public, it is recommended you display a map of your location. A common place for a map is on the contact page, but the footer is also a common location, which would make it visible on all web pages and is beneficial for local search engine optimization.
Hours of Operation
If you have set business hours, it’s a good idea to communicate those hours to visitors. Like location info, hours of operation are commonly placed on the contact page and/or in the footer.
Declaration of Services
Have you ever gone to a website and wasn’t sure what services they offered? Many service-based business assume that people know what they offer based on the type of service business they have. For example, hair salons often assume that visitors know what type of hair services they offer. However, not all hair salons offer the same services, so you need to specifically list those services out on a dedicated page. If you specialize in a particular style or ethnic group, you should state that as it will help target your market more effectively. The more details you can provide about the services you offer the more qualified your prospects will be.
It’s not always possible to display pricing on your website; particularly if you are involved in a business providing custom services, which can only be priced after feedback is given. However, it’s always good to offer some fixed priced services or packages. This gives prospective customers a basis to start with and you can always upsell them on custom options. People are impatient and don’t want to wait for feedback about what something is going to cost them, so the more pricing you can give them upfront the happier your site visitors will be.
Mailing List Opt-In
A mailing list is a must-have for any business; but especially those without a physical location. Physical businesses are a constant reminder for local prospects since they can see it every time they drive by it. Online-only businesses don’t have that luxury, which makes it extremely important for to have a way of staying connected with your target market. Email marketing using a service like Aweber or Mailchimp allows you to place an opt-in form on your website, so customers can subscribe to your mailing list; allowing you to regularly communicate with your target market; keeping your business fresh in their minds, so that they think of you whenever they have a need for the service you provide.
Blog For Exposure
Search engines love content. Blogs allow you to publish relative content that get’s picked up by the search engines so you can attract people who are interested in the content you are posting. If you are posting relative content, then the people you attract will be qualified prospects for your products and services. For example, a great blog post for an auto shop would be, “10 Catastrophes That Can Happen If You Don’t Change Your Oil Regularly”. At the end of each blog post, you should have a call-to-action; directing visitors to your services page, a coupon for $10 off oil changes, or a page where they can book an appointment.
Showcase Your Portfolio
If you provide a service that can be visually captured, you should absolutely have a portfolio. A portfolio allows prospective customers to see your work beforehand, so they don’t have to blindly trust that you know what you are doing. Having a portfolio will help improve your conversions so that you get more calls and more people interested in what you have to offer; assuming your portfolio represents you in a positive way.
Equip Your Site For Social Sharing
Social media is word of mouth in the digital age. It’s a powerful form of referral marketing and best of all it’s free. Placing social share buttons on your website is all it takes to encourage visitors to share your content, and this can lead to amazing results; especially if a piece goes viral. Do some research to find out what types of content tends to get shared more often in your niche and make an effort to produce similar content.
Social following is another way to connect with and communicate with your target audience. If your visitors like the content you are putting out, they will want to follow you on social media, in order to receive your updates on their social news feed. Having followers has the same positive results as having a mailing list because it allows you to communicate with prospects whenever you want; keeping you relative in their minds.
Close The Sale With Live Chat
It’s important to be able to reach potential customers and clients while they are hot on your site. Live chat is one of the best ways to close a sale. Often times, visitors are eager to order but they have questions they want answered before doing so. A live chat ensures you are available to those prospective customers at a critical moment in their buying stage; preventing lost sales due to inaccessibility. Live chat also helps to settle any insecurities customers may have with doing business online. Sometimes all they need is a live person to set their mind at ease.
Decking out your website with the features and suggestions discussed in this article will help you get more customers for your business over the long run. It’s not just about having a website. It’s about having a website that works hard for you and converts prospects into buyers. This means taking into consideration certain details that psychologically have a major impact in the way visitors engage with your website. By taking the time to implement the features we’ve suggested in this article, you’ll be taking major steps towards landing new customers and clients.
If you have the technical skills to implement these things right away, I encourage you to do that. If you’d rather not fiddle with the technical side of things, turn it over to us. Our web development team uses all of these best practices to ensure we set our clients up for success from launch day.