The key elements of a effective small business website should be considered carefully before engaging any website designer. Although most good website design businesses are well aware what a effective lead generation website should include many get caught up in technical and graphics issues and forget the basics. It is therefore important to brief the designer on your minimum requirements.
At its basic level a website should quickly inform the prospect what you do and what sets you apart from all the rest. It should also make it obvious how you can be contacted. However, these elements alone will not persuade the prospect to pick up the phone. To achieve that the website needs to build your credibility and, in a non-ambiguous way, inform the prospect what action they should take.
To build credibility the website should present:
- Proof you can deliver
- Industry / market knowledge
Proof you can deliver on any claims you may make in the website content is critical. Testimonials can be useful (genuine of course as the made up ones can be easily spotted) but of more value are case studies on what has been achieved for others, including before and after photography where practical.
Industry and market knowledge builds credibility further. Comment on what is happening in the industry, perhaps on legislation or a market trend is one option. Guides on what a prospect should look out for and consider before engaging a supplier and ‘how to’ guides are others. This information can be presented via a blog (ideal) or via downloadable documents added to the website.
An advantage of a blog is it can keep prospects coming back for more as the site is not static but continually evolving and delivering more useful content. Combined with downloadable guides a blog presents the opportunity to capture prospect Email addresses to enable ongoing communication and relationship building.
Although design, creative and technical issues were devalued to an extent above they are actually important elements. If a website does not look clean, professional and well structured then it will not project the right company image and will have a detrimental effect on credibility. The issue is to avoid too much emphasis on design at the expense of other key elements.
A effective small business website should therefore advise what you do. It should show you can actually deliver on your claims, it should guide a prospect to take the action you desire (make it easy for them to contact you) and it should look professional. The issue then is to ensure the website can actually be found online when a prospect types a relevant term into a search engine but that is the subject for another post.