Would you rather get 10 million views being in a TED Talk or getting ambushed by Billy Eichner in his “man on the street” style comedy segments?
Most small business owners want to improve their Google search ranking. Not so many consider the effectiveness of their website once the spotlight is on them.
If you’re new to building or managing a website this is understandable. DIY platforms like Squarespace and Wix put the focus on how easy it is to pick colors and upload pictures. They don’t dig into your why.
We’ve put together some core tips to get you started.
Get Clear on Why You’re Here
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the fronts you need to keep up with – Facebook posts, Google ranking, the contact form that suddenly isn’t sending anywhere, etc. Make sure you know why you’re building a website beyond ‘I have to have one.’
Your goal could be:
- to increase online sales
- to spread awareness for an important issue
- to reduce the burden on our staff through automation
- to get more customers to eat here
This is similar to the design mantra ‘Always Have A Concept.’ It can be anything, dressed up in lots of creative ways, but at the heart of it all you should know what the concept is.
Try spending a little time getting clearer on what you hope to accomplish. Details are key.
“Our online store isn’t getting much traffic.”
This is vague and lacks direction.
“We’re aiming for a 25% increase in online sales by April 1, 2019.”
This is a clear goal that can be turned into actionable steps. Progress can be tracked and your approach can be adjusted (if needed) based on performance.
Even if you’re a small business owner without a marketing team to back you, this change in approach can help.
Think Outside the Industry
It’s wise to keep an eye on your competitors. Know what you’re up against, consider what you can do better.
Unfortunately, it’s a slippery slope to industry tunnel vision. This is especially common among small businesses. Be careful not to choose which components to include on your website, or which aesthetic tone to use, solely because “the other guys are doing it.”
Try zooming out for a minute.
Think about anything that has felt visually striking to you recently. It could be the openness of the path to your favorite beach or the window lettering on a new bakery. If nothing comes to mind, go for a walk with the intention of finding 5-10 things that contain visual appeal. This may seem abstract, but the more you look for a pattern in your surroundings, the easier it will be to tap into that instinct when you’re faced with a design choice.
Think about interactivity experiences that have felt smooth (no development or UX background required). Maybe it’s the app you ordered pizza through. Maybe it’s adding pictures to your kitchen renovation inspiration board. You aren’t looking to replicate these – just think about what felt smooth, what made it stand out to you. Consider if there are any steps in your website that could benefit from being similarly streamlined.
The Customer Isn’t Always Right, but the Right Customer Is Always Important
Even with the best intentions it’s easy to be swept away in operational tasks. This can pull your focus in too tightly on “have tos” – have to return these calls, have to fill these orders by 3pm, etc.
Pause and think about your ideal customers, both in the past and your dream accounts in the future.
The goal is to shift from talking at people to telling them how you’re going to make something better / easier / just plain nicer in their lives. Try to reframe a features list into benefits. How do your customers benefit from your product or service? After all, they’re the reason you have a business.
- What need do you fill?
- What problem do you help to solve?
- Why should customers choose you over someone else?
- What would a happy customer tell their friends about you?
A good answer will help your website and social media posts, whether you sell sustainable decking materials or the best burger in town. Your wording and promotions will align better with your target audience.
A really good answer is the difference between being a commodity and a household name.