Develop an Effective Small Business Web Site

The best Web sites are those that serve the purpose of their owners. For some businesses, a Web site provides the backbone of the company’s retail operation. For many other companies, the site offers an adjunct source of sales revenue along with their brick-and-mortar operations. Some businesses use a Web site primarily for promoting their products or services and keeping their name in front of the public.

No matter what the use will be, it is generally a good idea to look at other Web sites to get an idea what you feel would work best for your business. Look at each site with a critical eye.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I like the layout?
  • Is there a logic to the sequence and the information?
  • Is the site easy to navigate or am I clicking repeatedly to find what I’m looking for?
  • Is the site current?
  • Are products and/or services clearly displayed?
  • Is the sales checkout process simple and quick?

The best Web sites are user-friendly, easy on the eyes (visually appealing), entertaining, informative, and current.

Some site planning and Web page design tips include:

  • Less can be more, so don’t overcrowd a Web page.
  • If you are selling items, make sure your product photos are large enough to see clearly. Try to illustrate the key features.
  • Title each page so that they are easily located by the user and by search engines.
  • Make each page easy to navigate.
  • Try to be concise with text. You can always have readers click to get more information.
  • Make the home page the center of activity. Make sure it is always easy to return to. Clearly define the purpose of the site and create an image on your home page.
  • Provide customer service, phone numbers, and contact information that clearly illustrates an accessible business behind the site.
  • Make sure the color of your text is easy to read against the background you’ve selected. Experiment with different colors to see which creates the best presentation.
  • Double-check all links often to make sure they work.
  • Don’t get caught up in “bells and whistles.” Just because the software, Web designer, or Web-hosting service allows you to include a myriad of features doesn’t mean you need them.
  • Make sure the site loads quickly. Don’t let graphics slow it down.
  • Be diligent about copyright usage and make sure you have the rights to all information you are posting.

Besides dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, so to speak, you not only want to make sure your site looks good and works properly, but that it best represents your business. Also, keep in mind that you need to promote the Web site. Unlike the line in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” a Web site will not attract visitors unless you register with several search engines and promote the site on all company literature, with all sales, and on all advertising and promotion pieces.