Make Your Small Biz Homepage Engage!

In the spirit of ending on an up-note, here are 3 “Don’ts” and 3 “Dos” that will immediately improve your homepage ten-fold, making it more effective in selling your services and bringing people back!

  • DON’T: Tell me all about your company on your homepage. This is the number 1 mistake I see on small business websites. No offense, but first impressions dictate your product must be showcased above all. Tell me “all about you” on a page called “about” so I can learn about your products and then choose to learn about you or at least move your “about me” paragraph to the very bottom or you homepage after your menu / list of services. (DO: Strategically placed “bits” of information that enhance your homepage but only if they add specific value to your product.)
  • DON’T: make visitors search for answers, try to give them what they’re looking for within 1 click. One way to gauge how easy it is to navigate your website is to walk someone who’s never seen it through it. If you have even the slightest bit of trouble taking them through typical scenarios your website may be too complex and you’re probably losing visitor’s interest fast!
  • DON’T: make your visitors work or wait! This is especially important when your visitors are on cell phones. Some of my pet peeves are: Long drawn out video introductions, pre-roll on video (please use post roll), large images that must load, clutter.
  • DO: Be sure “What you do” is clear and prominent! By simply glancing at your homepage I should know exactly what your business does, what differentiates you from others and how much it’s going to cost. Avoid blanket statements that mean nothing: “The Biggest Selection” …selection of what? If your slogan doesn’t reflect exactly what you do / have / provide / etc., it needs to take a back seat on your homepage to one that does. Play dumb if you have to and make it that obvious!
  • DO: Put your menu or list of services on your front page! The word “menu” or equivalent should be above the fold for quick identification and as a courtesy to mobile users who will have to wait even longer if they have to click to get there – key for restaurants, entertainment venues and other services!
  • DO: Post something weekly. New information gives a website energy and purpose. It shows you have something going on and you care enough to keep everyone in the loop. If you hit the right information you will start to get customers checking in with your website to see what’s going on. This could be a very good thing for your business! You don’t need to post some huge amount of information or make a novel out of it, it could even be one or two lines if it’s relevant. Consider something useful like specials, events, a new recipe, discounts for the week, shipments you’re expecting, schedule changes, when you won’t be available, when you will be available, etc.

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You may also be interested in our article: 6 Random Rules for Owning a Website

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6 Random Rules for Owning a Website

Your Website Tips & Tricks:

  1. Own your domain name: Domains are cheap and even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re better off to own your domain name and have someone else manage it. Note: make sure you alone have access to the “password change” email to ensure you cannot be denied access to the domain (if you need to quickly switch web folks for whatever reason).
  2. Own your web hosting account: Same rational as mentioned above. You absolutely need full control and access to your hosting account… you might give someone a spare key to your home, but you still need to be able to change the locks!
  3. Use a large, well known, web hosting provider like GoDaddy: I learned this lesson about 10 years ago when I had a hosting account with an unknown, but very cost effective, hosting provider. They actually served my needs well for years and, without warning, my sites went down one day and the message boards were lit up with angry customers who lost their data and were struggling to get back online. I was fortunate to have owned my domain name so I could quickly switch to a new hosting provider and get my sites up quickly. I’ve been with GoDaddy ever since and, while I’ll admit that their UI (user interface) is cumbersome and confusing, I give them major kudos for their 24/7 tech support which is always prompt. Anyone you might hire to build or maintain your site can certainly work through GoDaddy or any other large provider. Let them gripe about it, I also advise against using small or unknown hosting providers and I highly recommend not using your “web service person” for hosting services.
  4. Advertising tip: If you’re a plumber – phone book and basic website… if you’re a bar, drop the phone book and build a website that rocks. Then go crazy with social networking!
  5. Blog “off your site:” using WordPress or Blogger (for example) you will increase your name & business ranking in Google because blogs show up higher in search results and as an added bonus your blog will now get marketed by the host you’re using (WordPress, Blogger or whomever) through all the other blogs as “related articles,” popular tags, etc. You will also link heavily from your blog to your main site helping to build your linking credibility.
  6. Avoid an “all flash” website and big flash introduction: Although flash sites are now “searchable” most are not up to date and therefore may not be searchable which (as a small biz owner) should send you running. Flash won’t show up on many mobile devices, will take too long to load and many flash sites are often filled with unnecessary distractions such as sound effects, transitions, etc. Unless you are also running an identical mobile site, have an amazing product selection that requires an all flash, you’re a flash designer or you’re really really really confident I’m wrong… avoid the “all flash” website. I’m not saying don’t use flash components, when utilized properly flash can be an amazing asset for your site! If you have an all flash site, see the previous tip!

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