7 things your business website needs

7 things every small business website needs

When it comes to websites it’s not enough to slap up a couple of pages and hope for the best. Potential clients are looking for certain things that make them feel confident enough to spend money with you. These are the things your business website needs to provide (chances are your competitors already are).

In this blog post I’m going to provide you with the seven most important things that you site needs to help your business appeal to your ideal client.

7 things every small business website needs

Reliable hosting

There are a lot of options for hosting out there. Some that seem much cheaper than others and really, what’s the difference?

Well, the difference is in what’s under the hood – in the stuff you don’t see in a features table – that could one day cause you massive headaches.

For my clients I recommend Dreamhost or Siteground. Both have excellent track records and have great support for when things inevitably do go wrong.

A mobile-friendly layout

There are 16.69 million smartphone users in Australia. That means the chance that your website will be viewed on a mobile device is high and getting higher.

People don’t bother with websites that are difficult to use on their phones. They’ll simply click away and go to your competitor so, in a very real way, if your site isn’t mobile friendly you’re missing out.

Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Easy to find contact details

You do want people to get in touch with you, don’t you?

Make it easy for them by having a clearly labelled contact page or even adding your email address and phone number to the site footer.

A regularly updated blog

I know you don’t like it, but here’s the truth your business website needs an active blog. The reasons could easily make a whole other blog post in fact, my bud Jay from Crisp Copy wrote one, so go read that.

If you don’t want to write blog posts, you could use audio or video to make your point, or even hire a copywriter to do the job for you. Give people something to read and they’ll start to visit your site.

Clear calls-to-action

What do you want your readers to do when they’re visiting your site?

Sign up for your newsletter, look at your portfolio, book a discovery call? Whatever it is making sure your call-to-action is clear and obvious is key to a good website.

It can take a bit of trial and error to find out what works for your audience and where the call needs to be to get the most play.

Testimonials or social proof

One thing that makes potential clients feel comfortable with you is seeing that other people have worked with you and had a good experience.

Testimonials from real people, with photos and links to their website go a long way to preparing people to give you their money.

Other forms of social proof work as well. If you’ve been interviewed for a podcast give us a link, had a story published in a magazine, show us. Displaying awards you’ve won, or courses you’ve completed will also give people a sense of ease when considering working with you.

Pricing

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say pricing on a website is incredibly important. A lot of marketers will disagree, but here’s the thing. Your website is meant to make things easier for both your potential client and you.

By offering pricing you allow site visitors to quickly decide if you’re out of their budget. You don’t waste their time and they don’t waste yours by making you field emails or calls from people who can’t afford to work with you. You don’t have to put your exact pricing, a ballpark is fine.

A Facebook page isn’t a substitute for a website

Why do I need a website? I’ve got a Facebook page, isn’t that enough?

Well, no it’s not and I’ll tell you why.

Your business needs a website, even if you have a Facebook page

You don’t own your Facebook page, they do.

That means that you can lose access to your page at any time and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.

I hear stories all the time from people who’ve just been going about their business and found their page suspended. It could be as simple as having someone make a complaint about you or, like one business owner, you could post a perfectly innocent photo and have it trigger Facebook’s nudity filter. Instant time out.

You have no recourse and you can’t access your information to re-post it somewhere else.

People use the internet like they used to use the Yellow Pages.

Need a doodad for your doohickey? Google it.

Facebook pages and other social media accounts don’t usually appear in Google’s search results. Basically, without a website you’re invisible to your clients.

You might think relying on reviews posted to third-party sites will bring in the customers, think again. Unless someone search specifically for your business name they’re still not likely to find you. Even if you have 100 glowing reviews from customers who love you over multiple review sites.

Beyond everything else, your clients expect you to have a website

If you don’t they wonder why.

A professional website gives your business legitimacy. Anyone can start a facebook page. It’s easy. It doesn’t require a financial outlay and you can be up and running in minutes.

Because it’s so quick, people create pages to test out an idea and abandon them just as quickly.

Facebook pages don’t give your business the same kind of permanence that a website will. You want your customers to think you’re going to stick around, don’t you?

There are so many other reasons why you need to invest in a website for your small business. From algorithm changes that result in fewer eyes on your social media posts, to how much easier website are for viewers to navigate. But to my mind these are the top three.

You need to own your web content so that, should anything ever happen, you’re able to move your site somewhere new quickly and easily.

To increase your business, or even just keep the same level of income, people need to be able to find you. Relying on social media doesn’t cut it.

Finally, you need to be seen as a professional running a business that’s going to stand the test of time.

These things are true, even if you have a physical shop. Even if the bulk of your clientele are locals.

What’s a child theme & should I use one?

Why should you use a child-theme?

Back in the day I had no idea what a child-theme was. When I wanted to change my theme I’d dig straight into the style.css file and do my editing. This was a recipe for disaster.

The next time I updated my theme all my customisations disappeared and I was back to square one.

By adding my customisations to a child-theme I could have saved myself a world of hurt, not to mention the extra time I had to spend to make my site look like I wanted again.

Why should you use a child-theme?

In simple terms a child-theme is a theme that requires another (called a parent theme) for the bulk of its functionality and appearance.

The whole point of using a child-theme is so that you can make changes to the parent-theme—add functionality or change the look—without running the risk of breaking it, or having your changes overwritten in the next update.

Here’s the thing, if you’re not planning to make many changes to your theme you might not need a child-theme. Many major WordPress themes allow you to make changes to things like fonts and colours via WordPress’s built-in Customizer (Appearance > Customise). These changes will be safe when you upgrade.

Premade child-themes

Many popular themes have a community of developers/designers creating beautiful child-themes that you can purchase and use on your own site without needing to make any (or many) customisations.

These themes aren’t exclusive to you, but they can provide you with a good looking site at a lower price point than a custom design. In many cases, they may also be more attractive than something a complete beginner could create on their own.

Major points

  • Child-themes require a parent-theme to work.
  • Child-themes make it easy to update your theme even when you’ve customised it heavily.
  • Pre-made child-themes are a good option for a pretty site without much DIY work.