Are you a small business looking to take your business online? The Internet is where the action is, and you have rightly decided to launch your small business website. However, if your site does not convey the messages you want to put out, or does not appeal to the users, you would have wasted precious time and money, without getting the full benefits of being on the web.
You need to strike the right balance between looks, engagement, selling, marketing, and security.
Here is a checklist to help you stay on top of things before you go live. We have not missed any key aspects, so you can use this to ensure you get the most out of your small business website.
Table of Contents
The idea of having a business website is to engage your users in a meaningful way. Here are some things to ensure on all your pages.
Ensure that you stay relevant to the users you are targeting. Your content must meet the expectations of your customers. For instance, if they have arrived on your page by following a link, they are likely to engage at a deeper level if they find what they are anticipating.
Remember, the reason you are building a website is to convert your visitors, not to showcase a modern or beautiful design.
Avoid the use of jargon and use short sentences. Try addressing your target audience with you or your, rather than using first forms such as I, we, or me/my. Make the important portions prominent and use the same theme for logically associated elements. All the pages must have a clear structure, so the content is organized in well-defined sections. Your text must not look like clickable content.
Put the needs of your customers before your business objectives. Your audience should be able to find answers to their problems or questions. Provide practical tips, stay away from clever ideas that are hard to use.
Nothing looks uglier than incorrect spelling and grammar. Stay away from overemphasizing by using words such awesome and best. Do not use capital letters to get your point across, except in headings. And, please do not go overboard with exclamation marks.
Provide examples, research results, expert quotes, and pointers to relevant topics written by subject matter experts to gain the trust of your users.
Do not distract
Minimize the use of video or audio that starts playing automatically. The same goes for elements that move on their own people find it very distracting. Do not overwhelm your visitors with too many ads and use popup sparingly.
Be easy to read
Stick to fonts and text sizes that are easy to read and do not use obtrusive backgrounds. Maintain a high contrast between your background and text. Use short paragraphs, text highlighting, headings, and lists to make your content easy to read.
Be easy to use
Do not make your headings and regular text look like links or buttons. For ease of use, ensure that the clickable elements are clearly distinguishable in the form of buttons or prominent links.
Keep your CTAs (Call to action) and navigation labels clear. No page should have multiple CTA intent to make your CTAs visually prominent.
For the sake of clarity, do not overload your homepage with too much information it may turn off your customers. Use the following tips to come up with an effective homepage.
Have a clear tagline for your website. Be clear on whom you are, what T stands for, the services and products you provide, and what is in there for the visitors to care about.
Be easy to navigate
Do not get fancy with your navigation. Keep your navigation labels to a minimum, clear, and descriptive, and place them intuitively. Make it easier by having the mouse pointer change on links.
Consider providing a team photo along with some text describing them to show friendliness. Do not miss the logo and search box. Social proof is always good to have and a smart footer showcasing important links, utilities, social links, and contact information added to the experience.
Do not get tempted to provide all the business information on your website. This tendency usually ends up making your pages lengthier than the internet users are used to. Keep your pages focused, so the users know what to expect when they are on a page, just by looking at the page title.
Website Security checklist
Do not make the mistake of overlooking security before you launch, it cannot be an afterthought. Customers are getting more aware of the online threats and tend to stay away from websites that do not show the promise of security.
Be protected by SSL
Installing an SSL certificate on your website is one of the easiest and most effective ways of protecting your site traffic. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) turns on the more secure HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) which encrypts the data while it is transferred between the user’s web browser and your server.
Only the endpoints hold the corresponding keys for encryption and decryption. This makes any MITM (Man in the middle) attack ineffective as the hackers listening to the conversation cannot make sense of the information being exchanged.
Seeing the SSL security signs on their web browser makes your customers more likely to convert, as they feel confident that any data they share with your website will not be compromised during the transmission. This not only increases your bottom line but also leads to customer loyalty, particularly for the ones who are sensitive about security.
There is another advantage to having an SSL certificate installed as well. You get better rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), so you get more free targeted organic traffic, which has a higher chance of converting. So, you can save money on running paid advertisements, let SEO do the job for you.
If your small business website is divided into multiple subdomains, for instance – blogs.mysite.com, shopping.mysite.com, services.mysite.com, etc., and you want to protect them all using SSL, you do not have to buy a separate SSL certificate for each.
You can get for example a single GeoTrust True BusinessID Wildcard SSL certificate to secure all your subdomains with the same certificate. This will be cheaper than getting a dedicated SSL certificate for each site and but make it easy for you to manage your SSL certificates (since you will have fewer to deal with).
Be compliant with the needed security protocols
Based on the industry you are operating in, you may need to comply with specific security protocols. One such standard is PCI DSS. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is used for securing data handling when you are transacting online using credit cards. Being PCI DSS compliant reduces the chances of credit card fraud and gives you an opportunity of using better ways to manage the related customer information.
It also helps your small business gain the trust of your customers. A PCI-DSS compliance seal makes them confident and leads to them making more and bigger transactions on your website. They tend to trust your site to handle their sensitive information with no concerns about the transmitted data being stolen by hackers who may use it for things like identity theft and unauthorized money transfers.
ADC (Account data compromise) is a growing concern, and you must take precautions to ensure that your small business does not get into a compromising situation. Remember, you may be held liable for the losses incurred by your customers for any data breach emanating from using your site.
The damage may not be limited to the monetary loss in settling the litigations – you may have to shut down your online small business as the loss to your reputation may be irreparable.
And, make sure you stay on top of the latest website, security, and malware software updates to have the latest patches installed.
There are a lot more things you may need to be aware of, but then there is no end. As long as you ensure your content and presentation appeals to your users, you have crossed the first mark. The next stage happens when you provide the security of your and your customer’s data.
Stay in touch with security best practices, install a good firewall and anti-malware software, enforce strong password techniques, and follow the leads in this article. This is just the beginning, but these are the essential checkpoints you must cross before getting your small business online.