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Who, what, where and why: key questions every business should answer on their website

In terms of return-on-investment, a website for your business is the most cost-effective marketing tool that you will ever have. You should think of your website as a storefront or a public-facing office. Just as with a storefront or a business office, many who come in will look for basic information – what your business does, what kind of stuff you sell, what kind of personality your business seems to have, how it can help them with specific needs that they have, how long you’ve been in business, what your successes have been and how they can reach you on the phone.

It’s no different with your website. If you’re looking to build a website for your company, you need to look to create an experience that will satisfy visitors just the way a storefront that you design would delight visitors.

Your website will need to be informative

If a retail store that you design will have a banner or small display somewhere with the story of the business written down in an entertaining style, your website should have it too, under About Us. If you get to see a little sign out front with business hours and contact information stated, there’s no reason why your website shouldn’t have that, in a place that’s just as easy to find. If you would put a guarantee of customer service near the cash register, your website should have that too.

Your website needs to be designed to give people a reason to hang around

Staying with the retail store analogy, you know that people tend to buy more at a store when they hang around for longer. Giving visitors a reason to hang around is a big part of retail design. It should be the same with your website. If you have lots of interesting and relevant stuff going on that’ll give people a reason to stick around and keep exploring, you should go for it.

One of the first things that you can do towards this goal is to make your website as easy to use as possible. You need to put in research on the kind of visitors you are likely to have, and the kind of products or information that they will look for, and prepare a layout plan that puts links to all the most popular stuff within reach of a single click. Most other stuff should be no more than two clicks away.

Your website needs to be simple and easy to read and use, rather than actually impressive or beautiful. Think about Google, Wikipedia or Amazon – there’s nothing fancy about those websites. They make everything as easy to read and find as possible.

Put in as many ease-of-use features as possible

Excellent search is an important feature to make for usability. Most websites offer search but use search engines that are less than effective. It doesn’t matter if you have to use Google’s Custom Search (it’s free for as long as you get no more than 100 queries a day, and costs $100 for 20,000 queries). Responsive design is another important feature – it ensures that the content on your website always displays correctly, no matter what device or screen size the visitor may arrive on.

Make it worth their while to stay

Giving people information that helps them understand things that they don’t know is one of the best ways possible to encourage them to stay. People stick around on Amazon not just to idly browse products and pricing, but also to access detailed information on each product and to access reviews.

Whatever kind of business your website helps you promote, you should give the readers information about it. Both your website and your blog should offer visitors detailed and entertaining information about how you run a business, the challenges you face and so on. You will need and internet marketing design and plan to suit your business needs and one that appeals to your customers.

Microsoft does something like this very well with its screensavers on Windows 10. Every beautiful image that they put on your screen comes with lots of little icons to click on for further information — for which they take you to their Bing search engine. Making your visitors think of questions and then answering those questions is a great way to make people stay engaged.

It’s also a good idea to include a blog with as much quality, original information as you can gather. These moves can be just about the best investment you can make in your website.

Get people to sign up

When people sign up to your mailing list, you get access to them for very long time. Giving away free stuff is one of the most effective ways to make such sign-ups happen. A free ebook in exchange for a sign-up usually works very well.

Finally, you need to make sure that every choice that you make designing your website is clearly a mature, adult choice that visitors would associate with serious businesses and not fly-by-night operators. As an example, if you’ve been thinking of putting a $1 stock image on the Contact Us page of a happy call center representative speaking into a headset, you’re not on the right track.

About the author

Elaine Mitchell works as a website developer stroke designer, she’s also able to manage the marketing side though now mostly leaves that to her team. A wealth of invaluable website knowledge read Elaine’s articles for valuable insider information.

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