[Infographic] Effective Business Websites: Key Features That Make a Difference

People are busy and have a very short attention span when it comes to browsing the web. That means an effective website is not the one with all the bells and whistles, but the one that can fully provide the information its target audience is seeking. In this article, website design and marketing firm ProWeb365 outlines the key features which will help small businesses establish an effective website.

Typically, there are three types of websites most often encountered online: Informational websites, Blog websites, and E-Commerce websites. In this article, we will provide recommendations to steer you in the right direction and point out the features you should have for each of these websites. Our goal here is to dive deeper to selectively show you how to successfully position your small business website. Let’s dive in.

An effective website is the one that is custom built to accomplish certain goals such as: friendly navigation so visitors can quickly find the information they want, smart content layouts to communicate key messages effectively, purposeful call-to-action buttons that encourage potential customers to take certain actions on the website such as: buy, subscribe, email, call, etc.

When browsing websites, customers’ attention spans are short. It’s important to quickly address the reason for your visitor’s search. With custom design, simple layouts and appealing features, you will have better results in achieving your goals.

But first, you need to jot down the specific goals you’d like to accomplish and which type of website you want. Then, from this list of essential features, you then consider the ones that will truly help you accomplish your goals and leave out those that may distract or even annoy your visitors. Don’t worry, right after this general infographic poster, we will dive into the details for you.

To effectively market your business website, here’re the first three key things you should keep in mind while designing your site:

  1. Always respect your visitors’ time. Again, since online visitors’ attention spans are short, you need to carefully custom-design your website in a way that shows you respect their time. Your website’s navigation and content should be custom-designed for ease-of-use and relevance at all times. Customers are unforgiving for websites that waste their time, especially websites that take a long time to load completely.
  2. Always respect your visitors’ intelligence. When you create a link to another web page or website from the current web page, always keep your customers’ intention in mind. Will the web page or site you are linking them to satisfy the visitors’ expectations? If not, customers will feel that they have been tricked. They will not be happy, and after a few times, they will abandon your website “forever.”
    Also, search engines like Google and Bing, track this type of click-through behavior to rank your web page. If they see visitors quickly clicking the “reverse button” or exiting the web page or website you are linking to, they will give lesser weight to the web page you are linking from (your website) in their search listing results.
  1. Always optimize each of your web pages with relevant keywords or key phrases for that specific page to help search engines index your web pages correctly. The majority of people today use search engines to find the information they want. Therefore, in order for people to find your website, search engines need to index your web pages first and index them correctly under the correct topic. Otherwise, to the searchers, your web pages don’t exist. For this reason, it is critical to make sure each of your web pages is well optimized for search engines as well as searchers.

Often, your website is the first place potential customers learn about your business. A positive, first visual impression of your professional-looking website is only half the battle. Your site’s content also has to quickly address what your visitors wanted when they started their search. Here are things you would need for each website style:

Informational business website: An effective informational website must address these three things in the first 60 seconds once a visitor has landed on your Home page:

  1. Provide information that is highly related to what your target audience is looking for so they can make a decision whether to contact you or move on. This includes how your products and services can solve their problems and how your portfolio and clients’ testimonials reflect your high quality standards. Also important is a listing of the special products or services you offer that differentiate you from other providers (ex: the number of years in business, guarantees, delivery time, etc.)
  1. Provide a responsive website layout so that visitors can read your content with ease, on whichever computing devices they are using at the time (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone). Online visitors don’t like to take a lot of time digging through your web pages to find the information they need. Since their attention span gets shorter as the screen size gets smaller, it’s critical to strategically customize your site’s content and layout to address what your audience is looking for in that small window of time.
  1. Highlight credentials, certificates, awards, success stories, Google reviews, and clients’ testimonials to score the “trust points” with your potential customers. Your chances of being selected will equal the level of trust you can generate. Of these items, we highly recommend Google reviews, clients’ on-site testimonials, and certificate badges from the Better Business Bureau (if your business is in the USA) as the top three credibility-boosting elements for website success.
    Just remember, your online goal is to communicate your message effectively to your target audience. The simpler your website is, the quicker viewers can get to your key message.

Key takeaway: An effective website is not the one with all the bells and whistles, but the well-designed site that quickly provides the information its target audience is seeking. In short, “Less is More.”

Since most small business websites have less than 25 web pages, here are all the features you should need, along with other items outlined above:

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Blog business website: A blog website should also have all the items discussed above, plus it needs to provide easy access to your key feature (blog). Make sure visitors know that your site is a blog website and where they can go to participate and share. Here are important things you should know when operating a blog website:

  1. You (or your team members) need to monitor and reply to your visitors’ comments in a reasonable length of time. If commenters feel you do not reply to their comments promptly, they will think you are not serious about your blog and they will not come back.
  1. Selling banner ads to generate revenue for your blog is a good thing, but don’t overdo it. People will only accept advertising in proportion to what they feel they will gain from your blog website. When you first start your small blog website, don’t bombard them with too many ads or you risk losing their interest. There should be no more than one ad location on each of your blog pages. Then once your blog website gets larger, you can add up to two more. But that’s it. Be fair and respect your viewers.
  1. When it comes to blog websites, WordPress is the #1 choice among content management system (CMS) platforms. WordPress is scalable, which can help your blog website reach its full potential as you grow. Unfortunately, but inevitably, all blog websites are magnets for spammers. You will need to prepare to fight against spam. To maintain the quality and security of your site, you need to continuously upgrade your WordPress plugins and CMS platform whenever new updates come out. Keep filtering out spammy links and comments within your guest blog comments (if you allow people to post links and comments). One thing is for sure: your target audience will not like to be on a “spammy” blog site.
  2. Always install an SSL Certificate onto your blog website. SSL encryption will be another layer of firewall to help protect your website against potential evils.
    Just remember, the value of your blog website will only increase if visitors keep returning to read, participate, or tell others about it.

Key takeaway: Respect your readers, respond to them, and protect your site (and your readers) against spam.

Here are the features you would need for your blog website in addition to the list from 1 to 35 above. 

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E-Commerce website: Once you establish a professional e-commerce website, it will become your online sales representative that brings in revenue for you 24/7, even while you are asleep. In order for this sales rep to do its best, you need to position your website as we did the informational website, and also include these four additional items:

  1. You need to showcase a number of products on your Home page. If you have any special offers, discounts, or important information, you should also position them strategically on the Home page to attract potential customers and direct them to take the desired actions (call, sign up, buy, etc.).
  1. Your e-commerce website must be mobile responsive. You can’t afford to lose out on a growing number of customers who prefer to shop from their mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones.
  1. You must make it easy for customers to select products and pay for them, on your website or a third-party website like PayPal, Authorize.net, etc. The number of steps to complete each payment should not exceed three steps. The more steps it takes to complete the purchase, the more frustrated shoppers will get. If they feel they are jumping through too many hoops, they will abandon the shopping cart and move on. Keep it short and simple. Here is an article you can read where I outlined the critical factors for E-Commerce website design and usability.
  1. You MUST install an SSL Certificate onto your e-commerce website. You need its protection and customers expect to see it on all e-commerce websites. If you don’t have it, many customers will shy away from buying on your site.

Key takeaway: Strategically design your Home page, make it easy for customers to do business with you, make sure your website is mobile responsive and secure.

These are additional features you would need for your e-commerce website in addition to the list from 1 to 35 above:

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Conclusion: You may start your small business as a hobby, but with thousands of websites joining the internet each day, you need to invest in a professional business website if you plan to compete. If you only set up your business website as a hobby, it will likely repay you as a hobby. However, if you establish it professionally, you can expect a much higher return.

So, you want a powerful business website? Here is our advice which applies to all types of websites for optimal success:

  1. Don’t use cookie-cutter templates. A custom-designed website will perform better and will be purposefully constructed to attract new clients. Hire a knowledgeable website design and internet marketing company.
  2. Don’t host your blog website with a cheap, shared host. The last thing your visitors want is a slow-loading website. Converting visitors to participants is already hard enough, you don’t want to frustrate potential customers with a slow website. It’s like inviting your friends to a BBQ, then once they have arrived, they have to wait for two hours for food and beverages to be served. It’s counterproductive to establish a professional website and then host it on a shared host server.
  3. Strive to increase your business brand and reputation online through the voices of your happy customers (like Google reviews, on-site clients’ testimonials, etc.) and if you have time, produce educational content like this type of article, then post it on your site for topics related to your industry.

We hope you find this information helpful. If you feel this article or any specific section could be beneficial to someone you know, please share it. It’s our goal that this article will help others better understand how to position their website for greater online results. Thank you!

Author


Phong T. Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."

Phong is the president and marketing director of ProWeb365, a digital marketing company in Minnesota, where Phong leads a team of talented web designers, web developers, and online marketers/SEOers who are passionate about helping businesses and organizations with their online marketing needs; from designing professional websites to marketing them intelligently for a longer lasting result. For a free consultation, please contact our Minneapolis web design firm today at (612) 590-8080 or info@ProWeb365.com. Thank you!