Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on web design tips geared specifically for small to medium local businesses. While the vast majority of website tips available online are geared for fully digital companies like software services (SaaS) and eCommerce venues that are dealing with a high volume of national or even international traffic, your focus is on catching the attention and interest of people who live in your town or are passing through. From how you build your website to your SEO strategy, building an online presence for a brick-and-mortar business where the goal is actually bringing customers through your door, your strategies will be a little bit different and we’re here to help.
Last time we talked about the basics of building a strong website structure and design for your content including navigation, color, pictures, and providing the basic information like your business hours and contact information on the homepage. We also touched on the usefulness of live chat, especially for a small business with modest online traffic. Join us today as we pick up where we left off with a FAQ that can win you, customers.
6) Write a Helpful FAQ
It’s kind of funny, but here in the digital world where communication technology is considered all-important, in the business world “Self Serve” is the name of the game. In practice, the more your online visitors can answer their own questions and solve their own problems, the better. Fortunately for your local business website, it’s likely that you don’t need to worry too much about a complex customer portal but you do want to help customers quickly and easily answer any questions they might have.
The FAQ is a great source of organic SEO and you can use it to provide a bounty of information to curious potential customers both with questions you’ve gotten in the past and questions you’d like any FAQ readers to learn the answers to before they come in. As for winning customers, FAQs are also where people go when they have a specific question about your venue or service and would like it answered before they make a decision. Things like whether you have vegan menu options, if you carry a specific bolt size, or if you’re open on holidays can make or break an online visitor’s choice to become an in-person customer.
7) Showcase What You Have to Offer
In part one, we talked about how pictures can be used to invite your online viewers into your venue experience and show them what it’s like inside. However, this is just to give your customers a sense of space, ambiance, and selection. As you’re getting into the detailed design and content elements of your website, be sure to showcase what your business does best. This can be done with pictures, descriptions, customer testimonials, or even videos embedded in your website. Be sure to put your best features front and center and consider making them custom feature pages on the site. Do a little brainstorming with your staff and even ask a few customers what they think would be best to showcase if you don’t already have a few ideas in mind.
8) Don’t Leave Any Pages Blank
One of the most common and least attractive rookie mistakes in website design is blank pages. It may be tempting to host a website you’re proud of before all the core content is written, but don’t give in to that desire. Consider how you would feel if you were looking for a local service and one or more of the pages you wanted to read was simply empty where content was supposed to be. This experience gives you the impression that the company is sloppy and might leave other work incomplete as well.
If you do post your website before all the content is ready, do so very carefully and with preparation. Design appealing ‘under construction’ images and content to incite a laugh or completely hide links that lead to unfinished pages.
9) Use ‘About’ to Tell Your Story
Speaking of avoiding disappointment in your online visitors, give some real thought to what you write in your about page. A little theory of mind will quickly reveal why. The kind of people who take the time to flip over and read your About Us page are also the kind of people who really want to know about you. They’ve looked at your homepage and probably like what they see. They want to know more, not just about your business but about who’s behind it and why it seems so appealing. The last thing a customer wants to see at this stage is a tiny blurb about how long the business has been open.
People who read ‘About’ pages are going there for a story. They want to hear about your great grandfather’s bicycle repair shop and how it grew or that you decided to found a business to pass on to your children and how they grew up helping with inventory and customers. If you don’t want to bring your personal life into it, turn the store into a story or highlight the unique personalities of your current staff.
10) Plan for Multi-Platform Access
For our final tip of this starter pack of website design tactics is to remember that many if not most of your online visitors will won’t be accessing your site on desktop computers. The vast majority of web browsing that doesn’t happen at work is now conducted on mobile phones and tablets meaning there is no way to know what screen size an online visitor might be working with.
For this reason, you want your web design to be modular, flexible, and enjoyable to navigate on anything from a tiny phone screen to a wide-screen monitor. Be sure to work with a web developer who knows how to design for multi-platform and then test accessing your website and navigating around on as many device sizes as possible.
The mobile craze is, in fact, one of the biggest reasons for a brick-and-mortar local business to build a website. Rather than driving around to see which local venues are appealing, now people just flip open their phones and do a quick search. As a digitally aware and thriving small business, naturally you want your web presence to turn those quick searches into new customers coming through your door. While following these tips is a great place to start, if you want a personalized consultation on the right website design choices for your unique business, please contact us today!