You’ve heard it before and you’ll probably hear it again, having a website WILL in fact boost your online presence and drive customers through your doors more frequently. However, according to Espresso Digital, 29% of small businesses still don’t have websites! Is that you? If so, you’ll want to consider creating a digital presence. If you don’t, you’re missing the opportunity to attract new customers.
And when it comes to a website, it’s not just about the colors, photos, and fonts that make it (and you) successful. It’s important for your website to encompass user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing components in order for customers to engage and learn about your business. Luckily, you do not need years of web developing experience in order to create a satisfying user experience for your customers. From customer reviews to correct business information, here are ten necessary elements your website needs to be successful.
Essential Business Information
This one seems pretty obvious, right? You’d be surprised how many websites actually lack the essential information people are looking for. As a restaurant, you want people to visit your brick and mortar location. But, how will they get there if they don’t know where you’re located, and how will they know when to visit if your hours aren’t listed? It’s extremely disappointing for customers to receive inaccurate information online and then show up at your door, only to find out you’re actually closed! That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that your business information is easily found online & that it is always up to date. If you have seasonal hours or a change in location, make sure it is reflected online as soon as possible. Also make sure to have contact information, like a phone number and email, clearly available so customers can get in touch with you. The various search engine, travel, and review sites also show your business information, so make sure it’s accurate in all those places as well.
Your Business’ Story
It might seem obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind that when someone comes across your website, they may not know what the heck you offer. Many potential customers may stumble upon your site while doing research on sites like Google and Yelp, which is why it’s necessary to offer a full description of who you are and what you offer. Are you a restaurant serving traditional Italian cuisine? Make that obvious on the homepage! You can also have a separate “About Us” page that tells customers about your business’ history, staff, and cuisine. Creating a story about your brand helps to paint a picture in customers’ minds and shows them how you’re unique.
Proof in the Pictures
You know the age-old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. Although it’s cliche, it’s true. Customers want to see what they’re going to get before they walk in your doors. You should showcase your business by having high-quality photos of your food and atmosphere on your site. Having professional photos is a plus because no one wants to click on a URL and find the home screen to be blurry and headache inducing. Pictures are part of your story and overall brand persona, so be sure to have clear and enticing images that will make customers want to come to visit you. We also know that customers can be quite impatient, so having images load quickly is helpful as well. Having images that load quickly will not only improve the user experience, it will actually help raise your SEO.
SEO, the Way to Go
If you’re tech-savvy, you’ve probably heard this acronym many times before. But, for those who aren’t focused as much on technology, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. We’ve discussed those sites like Google, Bing, and Yelp already, but SEO directly relates to how your business website performs on these sites. Of course, if you’re a Mexican restaurant in NYC and someone types in “Mexican food in NYC” you want to show up! SEO ensures that your business is at the top of search results for relevant keywords and searches. Getting technical is essential for a well-performing website, and SEO is key to making sure you’re being discovered online. According to Main Street ROI, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results! Some simple ways to increase and strengthen your SEO include using correct keywords, using numerous links, and adding as many videos and images as possible. With over 85% of consumer engagement with brands being local, it’s essential to be in the places where people are looking for your business!
Showcased Positive Reviews
In today’s society, customer reviews have become one of the most influential versions of modern day word of mouth. 92% of people read online reviews! I can’t tell you the number of times a negative review on Yelp has discouraged me from heading into a restaurant or ordering a piece of clothing online. People’s opinions matter and have a lot of influence on others’ decisions, so use this to your advantage! There’s no shame in exemplifying good reviews and testimonials on your website in order to prove your business’ value and experience with past customers. I can guarantee you that potential customers will take reviews into consideration when deciding whether or not to dine with you, so make sure you put those positive reviews in front of them!
A Simple URL
This may seem obvious, but there are tons of websites floating around out there with ridiculously long website URLs, and some may not even work. This is a basic, yet important, component for your website. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Your domain name should reflect your brand and if .com is available, take it! I would recommend as little special characters (like $!%) as possible- aka anything other than letters and numbers. It will just make things all around easier for the customer to find you & easily type in your website address if they need to.
An Interesting Blog
Now, this may not seem like a necessary addition to a website, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to have some creative and quality content on your website. Not only does a blog help with your website’s SEO, but it can also easily be shared on social media sites to give you even more content to post socially. Make sure your blog content is relevant and useful for your customers because having irrelevant fillers is just a waste of your time! If you’re a restaurant, write about top trends in the industry, inform your customers about new events and specials, and even do employee spotlights about your staff. Creating a blog presence helps to show off what makes your business special & adds a human touch to your website.
Make sure your website is responsive and user-friendly, so it will appear aesthetically pleasing whether people are searching on their laptops or their phones. Nearly 60% of searches are happening from mobile devices, so you want to make sure your website looks great on any type of technology. The navigation bar, which should include important sections like Menu/Products/Services, About Us, Contact Us, and Testimonials should be responsive on both desktop screens and smartphones so that this information is always easy to get to. Having an easy-to-use website that loads quickly and is clear and efficient on the eye is necessary for customer engagement. Not only is it important to have an inviting landing page, but also to include the business information in multiple tabs and pages that the customer can easily look through to find exactly what it is they are looking for (and maybe even some information they didn’t know they were looking for!)
A website is your brand’s online storefront. Just as you strive to make your business eye-catching on the exterior, you want to do the same with your online presence. Use these 8 tips as guidelines for creating an awesome (and user-friendly!) site.
About the Author: Sophia Lesser is an Account Manager at SinglePlatform, where she onboards and orients new customers, designs websites, and offers support throughout her day. When she's not working with small businesses she is usually exploring NYC and going to different music shows around Brooklyn.