What to look for in your basic business website
Every company needs a basic business website at the very least. Having a Facebook page or other social network page alone is not enough - especially when you consider that you're at the mercy of these companies should they change their algorithms or shut down. The problem however for most small business owners is knowing how much to invest, what features they should have and this on-going mystery that is SEO.
So what features should your basic business website have?
Your website should have some form of Analytics setup. Afterall why would you invest in a website if you're not going to take advantage of the most powerful feature this form of advertising has over the traditional methods? You can take the time to learn the lingo yourself or hire someone else to manage your analytics & SEO coverage.
With Analytics you can track user behaviour, see how users are finding your website / where they are coming from. What demographics are spending the most time on your website etc. With this information you can massively boost your marketing efforts with actionable data.
At minimum you need
A contact form and a newsletter for collecting lead information. Email marketing is still very effective in this age of social networking and building your email list should be a primary focus of any website.
Your contact form should be simple and not require too much input & be easily navigated to. Some web practices recommend keeping a contact form on all pages 'above the fold'. It depends on your digital strategy & design flow whether this will work for you.
It should be fast
If you're creating your own website or using website builders - chances are you've not taken the necessary steps to optimise your website for speed. Customers will quickly lose interest in your business or services if your page still hasn't loaded after 3-5 seconds.
Speed also plays a huge factor in mobile user experience - remember not every user is on WiFi or 4G. Most users accessing your website on mobile are likely walking on high streets with less than optimal download speeds. Most importantly, however, is website speed is an important ranking for deciding your website SEO as Google will penalise your ranking for slow loading pages.
Lose the clutter
Your website should be clear and easy to navigate with conversion being the key. Want customers to phone your number to inquire about business, want them to book or buy something? it should be at the forefront of your design or the design should be focused on converting those users.
Likewise, your navigation should be clean and simple. If you have a one-page website you should still include some form of navigation so the users can instantly be shown the section they're interested in. If your website requires more than 2 clicks from the homepage to get to somewhere important - you're doing it wrong.
It must be mobile optimised - also known as responsive web design. For those who have old websites from the 2000's or earlier this decade, you're fighting a losing battle. If your business website isn't optimised for mobile you're losing customers and potential customer interest. Considering Google currently ranks this as an important factor for ranking your business on Google and will be moving to mobile first indexing by the end of 2018 (fast approaching) you really need to focus on this now.
Contact information is key
If your website is a brick & mortar company you absolutely need to include your contact information. Phone number generally in the header of the navigation bar and include your address in the footer. Having valid contact information builds trust & most consumers for any purchase over £300 will want to phone first. Providing this information within easy reach will prevent customer falloff. The phone should also be linked so users can simply tap the number on their phone to ring it.
Reflect your brand
If you're a serious business your website should reflect that. No fancy gimmicks or web trends for the sake of it. If your business has developed an unusual style or eccentric style, your website should reflect that as your consumers have come to expect it. The colour scheme should be no more than 3 colours maximum and should follow your branding colours.
Your website should be SEO optimised. This includes researching what keywords your consumers are searching for, researching how competitors are being successful with this and formulating a good meta title/description strategy and monitor ongoing results. In 2018 the meta description length has been increased so you can include even more useful information.
Your website needs to be SEO optimised so you can grow your organic traffic, this means you'll get more users finding your website through search engines instead of having to resort to PPC advertisements on Google or Facebook. Off-site, you should link your social media accounts to your website & link back to these on your website. Some website admins like to have this in their header or footer. Sometimes both - this depends on your UX strategy.
This is the bare minimum we'd recommend for any basic business website to be successful online. If you feel like we've missed anything feels free to add your input in the comments below.