“I want to build a new website for my company.”
It is a simple statement to a need for many small businesses. But, what’s important to always keep in mind is that your website ultimately doesn’t exist for you – it exists for your current and potential customers!
How can you ensure that your small business website is built with a customer-centric mindset? Read on to find out!
What Do Customers Want?
When working with our clients, the page the clients tend to spend the most time on is the “About Us” or company page. It makes sense. As an owner, you take great pride in presenting your company and your people to the world through the view of the website.
Our analytics, however, show that the “About Us” page tends to receive the lowest visitation of the “big 4” pages that tend to make up a small business website (Home, Services/Products, Samples of Work, Knowledge) and the contact information.
The key to thinking like a customer who is visiting your site is to think about what you would look for if you were shopping for any other service that is not your own. To put a twist on a Caddyshack quote: “Become the customer.”
What Should My Site Provide?
So what should you give your customers on your small business website? Here are few things to consider:
Easy-to-Find Contact Information
If someone is searching for contact information, you likely have a hot lead. Do not miss this! Make sure that your contact information is placed in multiple areas around the site. Ensure that it is on every single page in some fashion – the footer of your website is a popular choice. And, most importantly, make sure you pick up the phone or answer the email promptly when it comes in.
If a customer is trying to reach a business, often the first business to pick up the phone is the one who gets the business. Make sure it’s yours.
Clear Understanding of Products/Services
If your customer is still shopping, then they will tend to navigate to your products and services pages. Make sure these pages give clear detail on what it is that you will do for your customers.
Whether you operate business-to-business, direct-to-consumer, or all of the above, it should be abundantly clear to a customer what they can expect from you when they buy from you.
There are some considerations to make when describing your products and services. They are:
- Use the proper language for your industry but be careful to not get too technical. Avoid uncommon acronyms or wording that require some base knowledge from your customer unless you are targeting experts who will already know those terms.
- Describe the outcome. What does your service or product result in for the customer.
- Show pictures! The adage of “a picture is worth 1000 words” is important here. This is particularly true if your projects are larger, specialized, or where a finished product show off your work.
What Makes You Stand Out
What is it about your business that makes you stand out. Your customers want to hear about that! If you’re in a big industry, speak to your focused strengths. If you serve a specific type of client, make sure you are clear on that point.
Your website should paint a picture of your company that makes it clear why someone would choose your business over your competitors. Being a small business, why would someone pick your company instead of choosing a well-known, bigger name? Don’t go toe to toe but instead figure out what you provide your customers that is desired and unique so that they will flock to you.
Clear Calls to Action
When someone is ready to buy, you need to make it as simple as humanly possible to let them do so. Part of that is offered in the contact information described previously in this article. Part of that is also to give the customer direct actions that they can take to move forward with your business.
Depending on the type of work you do, is it clear to your customers how they can: contact you, begin a project, sign up for your blog, or make a purchase?
The more friction between your customer and purchasing, the worse off your site is.
For the thrift shopper, the only time they may see your site is when they are looking for a deal. Commonly affecting ecommerce sites, is it clear what deals and special offers you are currently offering? Are the terms clear?
Outside of an ecommerce site, if you are planning on offering a deal, make sure it’s visible! Nothing is worse than offering a deal and no one sees it. Also, make sure the terms of the deal are clear to your users. A satisfied customer is one who knows the pricing up front and can make decisions with simple and straight-forward information.
Ease of Use, Beauty
As usability engineer and cognitive scientist Don Norman wrote:
Attractive things work better.
To quote his abstract:
Affect changes the operating parameters of cognition…Positive affect makes people more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible and creative in finding solutions. Products designed for more relaxed, pleasant occasions can enhance their usability through pleasant, aesthetic design. Aesthetics matter: attractive things work better.
If something is attractive, people will naturally give it more credibility, more tolerance, and will approach it with a more open mind.
Your website should be attractive. It should be responsive and look good on all screen sizes. Your site should be easy to read. It should flow well.
Attractive things work better. Attractive things are more likely to lead to your customers following your calls to action and to listen to you more.
Technical Benefits of Customer-Centric Design
There is a very nice technical benefit of good, customer-centric design. That’s your ranking on Google.
Many of the above practices play well with Google’s best practices for SEO and website design. Google is constantly refining and improving upon best practices and signals for websites that will rank high in search results. But, all of Google’s rules could be summarized in the following statement
Build well-designed sites that are usable and provide good, valuable, original content.
Build sites that make people want to be on your site. Build sites that provide value.
We have discussed six things that you should consider to create a customer-focused website. Your website is for you in a sense, but it’s for you from the perspective of your customers.
Design for them!