The only way to have a successful online business is to have a website that works. If it doesn’t, you could lose customers and business. If it does, your business will flourish. It’s not enough to decide you need a website and put up the latest flashy design. Instead, you need to give a lot of thought to the design of your website to make sure that it meets your business goals.
In most cases, your goals will be about better sales of products and services and you will be able to see if you meet these goals by looking at the bottom line. However, there are also less tangible goals, to do with the reputation of your business and making it the first port of calls for customers who want products or services in your sector.
A lot of this is to do with your reputation with the customer and a customer’s perception of your business will have a lot to do with how well they can use your online business website. That means that you have to make the user experience positive, so that they will know what products or services you have for sale, how these products or services will help them, and how they can get hold of these products or services.
Communicate with your users
So how does this help you design your online business website? The answers are part of the basic principles of web usability laid down by Jacob Neilsen many years ago. Web usability is about designing your site with users in mind. The first principle is clear communication. Visitors tend to stay on a web page for 30 seconds or less unless they find something to keep them there. This means that you need to communicate clearly about who you are and what you offer. Web users need to know that your site is worth visiting and that it’s worth hanging around – and that means you need to make it clear what’s in it for them.
What’s in it for them?
That means that you need to tell your users why they should be on your site, another aspect of good website creation. Maybe you are the best company to offer a particular service. Maybe you have a product range that is always up to date. Maybe you have genuine sales offers that package the things that users really want. Whatever your strength or unique selling point, you need to shout about it, telling users in clear, concise language. Remember, even if they leave your site quickly, you want to give them a clear impression of who you are so that they might come back one day.
Make it easy to get around
The third key aspect of a successful online business website is navigation. Visitors to your site need to be able to find their way around quickly and easily. That means clear menus, clear product names and descriptions and an easily available search box. Some companies have taken an innovative approach to their online business websites by using a blogging tool as their main site. They set a static home page with links to the categories (which in this case function like departments in a store) and then they create a new post for each product. This works because blogs are searchable, quickly indexed and it is easy to highlight related content.
Create good content
Finally, there’s the question of content. As with any other website, the content of your online business website will make the difference between success and failure. Remember, this content is not for you but for the user. That means relevant and clear information, clear product photos and as few bells and whistles as possible. There are still places where people use dialup regularly and they may not be as far away as you think. A site that loads quickly is more likely to retain its visitors than one that is waiting for the latest whizzy script to execute.
Communicate to accumulate
So those are four areas to consider that will help your online business website to be user friendly and popular with your customers. But there’s one more thing you can do. When you have a question about a product or service, you like to be able to ask someone. So do your customers. Make it easy for them to communicate with you and respond quickly to whatever they say. That will build long term customer loyalty and will guarantee the success of your online business.
To design the perfect online business website:
Communicate clearly with your users about the purpose of your site
Tell them what they will gain from visiting your site
Keep site navigation clear and simple
Provide good, useful content
Communicate with your customers for long term loyalty building.
By: Gregg M. Terry
Gregg Terry is the president of Organic Natural Linking, a company that offers high quality content creation and organic link building, that drives real traffic to your website.