Having a website is important for all businesses these days. For one, customers expect it; if they search for a business online they expect to find it and if they can’t they are likely to go to a competitors website instead. Something that has become increasingly important is to catch the passive online market; those looking for certain products and services online who aren’t looking for any particular provider. If people can find your business when searching online for the products or services you offer then it can become a major income stream. To some the online shop window is their main source of generating business.
It is not just having a website that is important but having the right website. You need to provide what customers expect. A company that sells products and has a physical shop as well as a website might benefit from having an e-commerce site rather than just a flat brochure site. Some customers want to purchase products online and expect to be able to do so with certain items. People expect to be able to buy clothes, books and CD’s online so businesses that sell these may need an e-commerce site. On the other hand, they probably won’t expect to be able to buy products such as window shutters or flooring for their home. Important considerations for e-commerce sites should include giving clear information about products, such as what they are, what they do and the price. Navigation should be simple with easy and secure payment methods available. You can’t usually sell services through a website so websites of relevant companies are more likely to be brochure sites. These should supply information about the company and, importantly, information about their services. The contact details need to be clear, including the email address, telephone number and physical address.
Quality web design is important for any website, but especially a business site. It needs to look professional and needs to clearly display the relevant information and meet the requirements of customers. For some sites simplicity is the most important thing while for others impressive design is more important, for example design related businesses. Being able to show what you can do is also beneficial, visually or otherwise. Interior designers, artists and photographers, for example, should be able to show examples of what they can do. For those in industries where this is not possible it is good to give information about the work they have done or the customers they have worked with.
The navigation and functionality of a website is important. Simple navigation is always preferable as you don’t want to leave visitors frustrated. They should be able to find what they are looking for easily and quickly. The required functionality depends on the type of website it is. Some will have very basic functionality while others might contain audio and video files or large databases.
With any website the content is crucial. There is little point in having a website if it doesn’t contain the right content. It needs to provide the information potential customers are looking for. Before having a website designed and built it is important to carry out market research. The most important thing for a business website is to provide what potential customers want, not what you think they want.
Andrew Marshall ©