The business website replaces a phone directory listing and yellow page ad as the principle means of providing basic information to potential customers. Five website design elements, described in detail below, can work to further enhance the business marketing effort: visual appeal, customer perspective, business differentiation, and organic search and mobile readiness.
Attract customers with a visually appealing business website
Any website, regardless of size or complexity needs to look uncluttered, attractive, and inviting to use. The essential design criteria for a visually appealing website are:
- Colorful, attractive arrangement with deft use of white (blank) space
- Not text heavy; use instead headings, short paragraphs, and lists
- Photos and other graphical elements enhance look and feel
- Navigation menu obvious and consistent on every page
- Essential information “above the fold” on every page
- No distractions from blinking or flashing elements
Provide customer value in the website design
Visitors don’t come to your website to admire the design. They arrive looking for something they need. Make sure your content is attractive and easy to explore, but also relevant and useful for his or her (not the business) needs.
Determine what is relevant by researching and understanding your audience. Define your primary audience (sex, age, income, family size, etc.). With demographics in hand, design your website based on the needs of your primary audience. For example, a younger audience tends to respond to more graphics, while a senior audience wants more explanations—in large type. Know your audience and tailor the design and content to their needs.
The URL landing page (aka the “home” page) needs a short, clear description of the company to confirm for the user whether the website is useful for their needs. Example descriptions might be a law firm that provides family legal services, a toy store that sells non-digital toys and board games, or a casual dining restaurant that offers a menu of Greek specialties. Think of the introductory text on the home page as a long version elevator speech or static advertorial. Make it short and to the point.
In addition, include the essential information that a customer most needs to know: descriptions of the products or services offered, business hours (especially for retail operations), company history and people or key personnel, and contact information (address, phone, email).
Finally, include any other applicable business features such as an online store or ordering system, or an interactive customer appointment calendar.
Showcase expertise to enhance business marketing
Other content on the website needs to set the business apart from the competition. Videos, podcasts or downloadable (PDF) articles can provide customers with useful tips, advice, demonstrations of techniques, and “how-to” information, while showcasing the business expertise. This content does not need to be provided all at once. In fact, it is wiser to roll out new content over time, as part of a well thought out marketing plan that might also include a blog, newsletter, or social media.
Improve organic search with keywords
Effective keyword use in your website design is one method of passively improving the digital marketing effort. Search engines (Google, Ask, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) look for keywords to index website content. Indexing helps users find what they are looking for when searching the Internet. Thoughtful use of keywords can improve indexing and organic search, leading to increased discovery of your website.
Keywords can be one word, or a short phrase of two or more words. Keywords can describe a website (“gardening”, “gardening tools”, “gardening information”), a market or industry (“home gardening”, “urban farms”, “survivalism”), customers or audience (“home gardeners”, “preppers”), and category or topic of content (“vegetable gardening”, “organic vegetables”).
Initially, define a list of 30-200 keywords for your website. Every 6-12 months, review your list and add or delete relevant keywords. Use keywords consistently across your website, digital marketing, and social media. Here is a general procedure for how to create a keyword list:
- Guesses based your knowledge and intuition
- Content of your site (your topics or categories)
- Words and phrases used on successful competitor sites
- User keywords, i.e. organic search words used by visitors to your website (available in Google Analytics)
- Rank or popularity of keyword (using tools such as Google Trend and Google Keyword Planner—formerly the AdWord Keyword Tool)
Responsive website design makes it mobile ready
Consider whether you need a website that can be viewed on a variety of devices, especially mobile computer technology platforms. Mobile readiness is more important for “demand” services, such as restaurants and entertainment venues, than those offering professional services or another support activity such as wholesaling supplies and equipment.
If mobile capability is desirable, save costs by using a “responsive” theme or website design that automatically renders the content on different types of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
A business website replaces the outdated phone directory listing. Consider these five website design elements to seamlessly enhance the business marketing effort.