Websites are now an essential part of any business as they are a powerful tool for communicating with potential customers. However, one challenge for small companies, is that on the internet, they are often competing for attention with other businesses offering similar products or services. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the company website is as effective as possible in order to differentiate from the competition. Tessa Denison, creative director of web designer, Denison Design, reveals tips on how to achieve this.
Initially, consider what the website’s primary purpose actually is. As well as selling, the website should offer something extra to demonstrate your company’s area of expertise and keep customers coming back. One effective way to do this is to feature a selection of simple articles offering advice on common issues. For example, a stockbroker might offer a guide to the stockmarket or an introduction to stocks and shares. Similarly, a wine merchant could provide information about different types of wine.
Another option is to offer a subscription to a monthly e-newsletter for example. This has the benefit of building up a database of e-mail addresses but also keeps interested parties up to date on the company, special offers and new products.
In addition to offering ‘something extra’ it is essential to get the content right. One key point is to ensure site content is not overloaded as this will increase the download time, a major factor contributing negatively to retaining site visitors. Keep to essential information and be sure to include is contact details; a name, address, telephone number and e-mail. Use a telephone number that is always answered and make sure that web e-mails are prioritised!
Other essential information is the use of testimonials as these are powerful endorsements and attract potential customers. Such positive feedback will reassure clients about the level of service or product they are purchasing and also makes your business stand out against the competition.
Photography is also important. It is said that ‘a picture says a thousand words’ so it is critical to use high quality imagery. However, like excessive content, large numbers of high-resolution pictures increase download time. Therefore, always compress the photographs to make them ‘lighter’ and yet still show the same image.
The layout of the images is also key and product pictures, rather like products the retail environment, should be merchandised on the home page properly. Just as customers are more likely to enter a shop where the quality of goods is visible through the window, web visitors will move through a site where the merchandise is on show at the outset. Therefore, include a selection of products or a product offer on the home page that will grab attention immediately.
We have touched briefly on just some ideas to make your site stand out however, to get the most from your website then customers will need to be driven there initially through search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engines are the main method of directing traffic to your website and if content is updated regularly, web listings – those near the top of a search results list – can be improved. Therefore, frequently revise advice articles, testimonials, images and other significant content as more dynamic sites tend to achieve higher web listings.
The ability to update a website initially comes from constructing it according to “web standards” guidelines and using valid HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS). Using these will also enable a consistent view of the web page regardless of whether it is through a PC or a mobile phone and also it improves accessibility for any people who may have visual impairments.
These days the majority of businesses have an online presence. However, not all are using their valuable web space to the maximum effect. In order to make the most from your company website put careful consideration into the content, design and construction and by doing so customers will be driven to your website, they will stay to explore and most importantly sales and enquiries will be generated.