By Rieva Lesonsky
You do realize customers are not the only ones who look at your business website, right? Everyone from small business loan officers to new clients to possible business partners to potential seed capital investors will visit your website to see if it’s professional and has an easy-to-navigate, user-friendly layout. To make sure they’re happy with what they find, here are some elements you should definitely have on your small business website:
- A simple domain name. With so many websites out there, the domain name you wanted (that is, the name of your business) may not have been available. Make sure your domain name is at least a variation on the name of your business. Also choose one that is easy for customers to type and remember (i.e., short and simple). Avoid hyphens, dashes or any other complexities. And finally, make sure you employ excellent SEO strategies to get your site to the top of search engines.
- “About Us” page. One of theadvantages you have over the big guys is your story as an entrepreneur. Not only will investors look for your story, but consumers also like to feel good about their purchases. Learning the background of how you got your business off the ground, reading about your team and seeing photos of you and your co-owners (if any) adds to your marketing appeal.
- Privacy statement. If you collect any kind of information from your site visitors, such as names, emails or credit card information, you need to post a privacy statement or policy so your visitors know what happens to that information. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles, here’s what you need to state: The uses to which the data will be put; any recipients of the data; the nature of the data collected and the means by which it is collected; whether provision of the requested data is voluntary or required, and the consequences of a refusal to provide the requested information; and the steps taken by the data collector to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and quality of the data.
- Site map/search capability. Have you ever gone to a website and been frustrated by not being able to find what you’re looking for? What did you do? Switch to a site with a site map and search box, of course, and that’s what your customers will do, too! Make sure you have a search tool that works properly. It’s also a good idea to add a link to a site map at the foot of your home page—this can be helpful if customers still can’t find what they’re looking for via search.
- Simple shopping cart and payment options. If you sell products on your site, consider including a “wish list” option so shoppers can save products they’re not ready to buy and remember what caught their eye. It’s also smart to have an option to share products, services or content they like by email. As far as payment options, make it easy—have all the options, from PayPal to an 800 number or “print out this order form and mail it in” for those wary of giving out their credit card information online.
- Site verification seal. Make sure visitors feel secure when they visit your website by getting your site verified by a well-known name in security such as NetworkSolutions or Verisign.
- Social media. When buyers are excited about a purchase, they want to share it in their social media world. Offer all the top social media share buttons; for Pinterest-lovers, use big, clear images they can pin.
- Shipping information. Free shipping is a huge motivator for shoppers today. If your site offers free shipping, state that clearly on all pages.
- Easy-to-find contact information. Don’t make it a chore for visitors to your site to find out how to contact you. Make sure your contact information includes email addresses, a physical street address, phone, fax and all your social media platforms.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports