Entrepreneur.com published an instructive article, “5 Key Elements Every Small Business Website Should Have,” and the key elements seemed rather, well, elemental.
- A powerful home page
- User-friendly navigation
- Search features
- Access to help
- FAQ page
These are good suggestions but you have to dig a little deeper. A home page is very important, though impressions to a homepage can vary depending on the site. It’s not uncommon for as few as 30 percent of visitors to see a site’s homepage. Even so, those 30 percent need to be greeted with clear next steps. Those are people who didn’t use a search engine to get to your site.
A user-friendly navigation is hugely important and not necessarily based on the classification of your products or services. Navigation should be based on the way people THINK about your product or service. Take car wiper blades for example. The easiest way to classify car wiper blades is by the specification of the blade – size or type of fitting, for instance. However, few consumers understand the specifications of their blade. Consumers understand the make and model of their car, and it is the easiest way for them to shop or purchase wiper blades. Therefore, it is necessary, for the buyer’s sake and in an effort to simplify the shopping experience, to make a navigation system considerably complicated – a database of all makes and models cross-referenced to all appropriate types of blades.
Search features may or not be necessary or advisable. Google has set the bar for search: one box and sophisticated algorithms that return results compensating not only for spelling errors but for alternate word meanings. The vast majority of sites don’t have algorithms that intelligent and so can result in user dissatisfaction. If you can’t or don’t need to implement search really well, leave it off. Side note, have you ever searched for gravy? You’re likely to end up with something for turkey and not for Italian beef even on Google.
Access to help also is something you have to think about more deeply. Entrepreneur points out that Social Media Today reports 93 percent of small businesses do not publish an email address customers can use to contact them. Rob Davis, head of Thinker’s Tech Lab, says there’s a good reason for that. As soon as you publish an email address you are bombarded with spam. Instead, it’s better to create a form for potential customers to reach you.