We all know your website is the first impression a prospect will have of you and your business when they search online. And you’re probably wondering whether it’s actually working for you or not.
While the world of website design can feel overwhelming, it’s actually fairly simple when you begin to break things down. In this post we’re going to create a checklist of the top 5 things your small business website’s homepage must have. Hopefully this’ll help give you some ideas and key action items.
1. Stay on brand
First and foremost, you want to get the basics right. This starts with your brand. Here are some top elements you should include for your brand:
- Logo – Your logo is the most recognizable element of your brand. Make sure it’s visible at the top of your homepage (and on every page!).
- Company name – make sure your website visitors know who you are and what to call you.
- Headline – A short, concise message that clearly explains what you do. Think simple – “Michigan’s #1 Emergency Plumber Service”.
- Colors, Images, Fonts – These should be included as website elements on everything from navigation buttons to calls-to-action and text links. Keeping this consistent throughout your website experience is vital.
2. Simple and clear website navigation
This is an easy one to overlook. Often we want to cram everything into our top navigation, out of fear the customer will “miss out” on something. This can lead to a bloated and confusing experience for the customer, they may not know where to go next.
Instead, keep your main navigation simple and focused:
- Keep it one level deep (try to avoid sub links)
- Keep it limited to just a handful of important pages
- Keep it consistent and in a predictable spot throughout your website (top of the page)
There are many more “natural” methods to present links to other pages. By weaving links into the natural flow of content on your homepage you can create an experience that feels more natural, and organic for your customers. They’ll effortlessly read from page to page, experiencing everything your website and business has to offer.
Don’t forget about your website footer either! Include important contact information – this is often where people will look first to discover how to get in touch with you, and it’s also a great place for anything that doesn’t necessarily need to be up higher on the page but still needs visibility: things like social media profiles, blog feeds, or other useful tools (like an “About Us” section).
3. Your website should know WHO it's talking to
Ever landed on a website full of generic business speak; “In business since 1963, Johnson & Sons delivers premier customer service with a smile!”. Okay, that sounds like every other website out there. It doesn’t speak to the customer. It’s an easy way out, it’s content that’s thrown onto a website just for the sake of having content.
Often overlooked, a good website design will be tailored to your audience. A talented designer will craft a “buyer persona” for your website. By using research into your customers she will understand what entices them, how they speak, and how to tap into their core motivations, all with an aim to turn them from just a visitor into a paying customer.
What is a “Buyer Persona” anyway?
A buyer persona is a website visitor turned into an individual with their own needs and wants. For example, if you’re a plumber, electrician, or general contractor, you may be selling your services primarily to homeowners over the age of 40. You’ll have different “buyers” as opposed to someone who’s selling mountain bikes.
Of course, your website should be tailored to suit the people you’re trying to reach – which will not only help them find what they need, but also keep them on your website longer (which will result in more chances of building a positive relationship).
A talented website designer can take elements from your company history, culture, customer feedback (testimonials!), competitor research, and other info like blogs or social media posts to create custom personas – all ultimately creating content that’s targeted and speaks directly to each customer.
4. Social proof
One key job for your website is to build trust – And customers love to be reassured that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve done it many times before. They want to know you’re a professional, and that you have the experience to back it up. Here are some tried and true social proof elements you should include on your website:
- Testimonials and reviews are very important. Get some on your homepage!
- Blog posts / resources or articles show off your expertise, while providing value to your visitors.
- Case studies / past work to showcase your craft.
- Awards or accolades will show others recognize your expertise.
These are all good examples of social proof – indications that show visitors who come to your website that they are likely not wasting time.
The more evidence, studies, testimonials, etc., the better! Start off small and build it up over time. Don’t think you need all of these out of the gate. Your website and business is a living thing, it should evolve over time. Besides, visitors love to see new, fresh content, it shows the business is a live and kicking!
5. A primary goal
This is probably the most important factor – Your website should have one goal and one goal only. We call this the Primary Call To Action. And it’s the one thing you want your customers to achieve after they visit your website.
For home and trade service based business this is probably a phone call. Often visitors are looking to get solutions to an immediate problem and need reassurance that someone will be available to help solve it. A phone number is an excellent way for folks to get in touch immediately, so make sure your phone number is front-and-center.
For retail businesses, the website is often a window to their store. So make sure you have an easy-to-find direct link for shoppers to get directions and contact information so they can easily visit your physical location as well.
As you can see, it’s important to tailor your visitor’s experience to the primary goal of your website. Often we’ll refer to this as “the funnel” and it helps nurture customers through their buyer journey.
Wrap it up
So there we have it, our top 5 things any small business homepage needs. Just to recap:
- Stay on brand – As a small business your brand is important and takes effort to stay consistent.
- Simple Navigation – Make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for.
- Tailor to your audience – Speak to them directly, you’ll nurture more positive relationships this way.
- Social Proof – Reviews, testimonials, awards – all great things to inspire confidence in you and your business.
- Have a primary goal – Make sure you know exactly what you want your website to achieve.
Were these factors helpful? How does your website compare? Does your website do all these things well? Are there any other factors you think are missing or would add? Let us know what you think, we’d love to hear your experience.
We’ll actually use these factors (and around 40 others!) when auditing a website. Right now we’re offering a free website audit – if you think your website could use some work – or you have any questions on website design, drop us a line!