I would like to begin by saying that I hope you got a chance to learn a little bit more about, and perhaps even partake in some of the activities of, Global Entrepreneurship Week last week. After all, it celebrates YOU and your accomplishments and aims to inspire you to reach even higher.
With that said, this week we are back to the topic of your business website. In a previous post, we established that it’s an important facet of your marketing strategy, but what are some of the “must-have” elements that you need to incorporate into your site?
When building your business website, you have a lot of freedom with respect to the layout and overall visual presentation. Your website should be a representation of you, and as such, unique to you.
However, within that freedom naturally comes a framework, meaning that there are a number of elements that you should absolutely incorporate into your website. How you choose to do it is largely up to you.
Below are the Top Essential elements that YOUR business websites should have.
1. Easy Navigation
The most important characteristic that your website must have is EASY NAVIGATION. I’m sure that at some point in your virtual adventures you have come upon a site that is just plain confusing and does not seem to want to let you go to the page that you are looking for. Did you stick around, or go somewhere else? I know I for one have moved on. It is pretty likely that you can find the same information somewhere else, so fighting with a difficult website to extract the information that you are looking for just isn’t worth it.
If a website is confusing or difficult to navigate, people will not stay long enough for you to say “Thanks for your interest!” There is nothing that people dislike more than inconvenience and being led on what seems to be a wild goose chase. Easy navigation is key to keeping people around to see what you have to offer.
All links should stand out and it should be blatantly obvious where they go. There should be either a horizontal list of page links at the top or a vertical list along the side of each page. Not only does incorporating this into every page ensure that your potential clients can access whatever page they want at any stage, but it is also a good SEO technique.
However, unless you are creating an authority site – something like CNN.com or another one-stop site for all aspects of a given topic, it is important that you do not create an excessive number of pages either. Keep your navigation bar simple, even if you do have a larger number of pages. Nobody wants to go through a million different links to find all of the information they are looking for. I would limit it to ten links in your navigation menu at most, and less if possible.
Make sure that every main element of your business has a page, and then expound on each element within each page.
Easy navigation is not a difficult concept. If at any point you are unsure about your layout, ask for outside thoughts and opinions. If your non-tech savvy uncle, friend or grandmother finds it confusing or annoying, then other people probably will too.
2. Home Page
Your homepage is what your potential customers will see first. As such, it is essential that you make it engaging and interesting. You want to catch their attention and draw them into exploring your site further.
The last thing you want to do is give them a reason to look elsewhere. It should be professional, but your unique personality should always shine through.
There should absolutely be graphics of some sort, whether it is a picture of you, your work place, or some other aesthetically pleasing image. Graphics catch the eye, and hold attention much more efficiently than text alone does.
Something else that generally does a good job of grabbing potential customers’ attention is a deal of some sort. If you are having a sale or you are offering a desirable product or service for a good price or free, your home page is a great place to showcase it. With the economy in the hole, people are even more apt to look for the best deals they can find.
Your homepage should give the viewer a basic understanding of what your business is about. If you offer multiple services, it’s a good place to include a list of those services. It should be relevant and should promote trust in you and your company.
3. About Page
There should be a page somewhere that summarizes who you are and contains some important information about your business.
Although this page is technically your “About Page,” I would not recommend that you actually label the link that way. It is too generic, and says nothing about you or your business.
Use something that is more personal, which could even be the name of you or your business. This is a great place to show why YOU are the best person to help them resolve their problem and why.
Even though the About page is theoretically about you, you still need to maintain your focus on who your potential clients are, and why they’re looking for you and your expertise. You MUST speak to them where they’re at.
As you explain what you do, why you do what you do, your vision as an entrepreneur, etc. on your About page, you must at the same time be focused primarily on them and how and why your services are exactly what they need right now.
How do you solve their problems?
For example, if you’re a real-estate agent that specializes in downsizing seniors, you need to know why they (or a family member) is on your website looking into you and your services.
What is the conversation going on in their head?
Perhaps that conversation goes something like this:
“I need to move into a smaller house – this four bedroom place is too big for me now that my spouse has died. I can’t keep it up anymore. The maintenance is too much for me, and it’s got too many painful memories – but heck, we’ve lived here for 28 years, and I can’t bear the thought of leaving; it’s all so overwhelming.
And I don’t know the first thing about selling a house these days – it’s changed so much since we bought this place almost thirty years ago – it’s so much more complicated. I’m terrified that I won’t understand it at all – and what am I going to do with all this stuff we’ve accumulated over the past 30 years?
If I move to a smaller place, I’ll have to get rid of some of my collections and antiques, not to mention just all the furniture and where will I go?
How will I ever find another place…blah, blah,blah.”
So how do you respond to that? Even though your About Page is presumably about you, in reality it needs to be about them first and how what you do can help them. So your About page will talk about you in a way that builds credibility and authority in the arena where they need help.
It will most likely be the most personal of your pages and it should help potential customers relate to you and form a bond of trust.
So…yes. You can explain that you were born and raised in the local area, but explain why that matters to your prospective client.
You can explain your passions, your hobbies, your interests, but be sure to tie that back in to them and where they are when they’re looking for you.
If you have a special degree, certifications or whatever, explain why that’s relevant to them from where they’re sitting right now – and where they’re sitting right now is considering whether or not you’re a fit for them.
So I recommend that you don’t talk about your parakeet collection or the fact that you lived in a commune for 8 years unless you can find a way to tie it in with your expertise, your skills, or your blessings in a way that matters to them.
Other important information that you can add to this page, and that needs to be easily attained somewhere on your site, is your business hours and location and your contact information.
Depending on what you do, your business may or may not have a physical address. If it does, you need to make it visible and easy to find.
Linking it to Google Maps makes it easy to get directions to your place of business and helps the viewer calculate his or her bearings.
Hours of availability are also something that needs to highly visible and would fit in great on your about page.
Although your contact information should be accessible from every page, it is a good idea to organize it into a section that on the about page as well.
Next week, we’ll continue on with several more important parts of your website that you won’t want to forget. Come back to make sure that you cover all of the angles that need to be covered in order to ensure greater success for you and your business!!
Until next Tuesday, go out and make it a great week! : )