Online Presence? I’m Presently Online, does that Count?
In many regards, your website is much like a business card and the Yellow pages all in one. More and more people, are going to the internet to find services. In this article, I outline some basic concepts that you need to know to help your business grow and have a successful online presence.
Is your Website Circa 2012? Read More
Sadly, creating a website is not a one-time deal that you can check off your to-do list. If your website is older than 4-5 years old, it probably looks fairly dated. You may be asking yourself, “Why it is important to have a new up-to-date website?” A dated website tells your customer that maybe your business is more of a hobby or a side business; and that maybe the latest website advances are not that important to you. A customer wants to feel like you are staying up-to-date in all areas of your business, especially in your field of expertise.
Add on to the fact that if your website is a few years old, then it is most likely not mobile-responsive. A mobile responsive website looks nice on any device and with more and more people using their phones to search the internet, that is imperative. “A report published by Reuters states that 75% of Internet use in 2017 will be from mobile devices” (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/75-internet-use-will-mobile-2017-report/177433/).
I guess the question you really want to ask yourself is, ‘What is my customer’s first impression of my business?” If you are not sure or you are not impressed, then maybe it is time to seek an experienced professional.
No Point in Reinventing the Wheel
While we want our website to be unique to our business and geared towards our clients, we don’t want a website that is so different customers won’t understand how it works. There are certain aspects of a website that have become intuitive to internet users. This list of must-haves is not radical or even long. All websites should have some basic functions that are common to all users such as a logo, menu, and contact button; but going beyond that, users like to find certain elements in familiar locations.
One of the elements that most users look for on a website are the name or logo at the top of the page. If you have your logo three fourths of the way down, it may make it hard for the user to find it. The same goes for your menu and contact information. The question you want to ask yourself, “When I first go to a website where is the first place I go to find information?” Typically, a logo and menu are at the top of the page. Contact information can be at the top, but is always found in the footer too.
A strong home page is pretty important to your website. Any strong home page uses good content, meaning well-articulated text and beautiful images. The days of tiny images and lots of text are gone. It is important to remember that customers will only skim your page and that you have less than 60 seconds to draw them in further. A visually appealing home page will have clear navigation, good content, and a call to action. Does your home page have all of these?
Brand? Why would I need a brand? I’m not Nike.
A brand is a unifying theme. Your brand should have the same theme on your business cards, packaging, store, and website. A brand makes it easily identifiable for customers to know that your website, store, product, and business cards all go together; and quite simply that you are the same company. Plus, it makes you memorable.
So what does having a brand for your company mean? Most companies start off with a style guide to direct them. This style guide covers logo, color palette, textures, images, and even font choices. If you’re thinking right now, “But I don’t have a style guide?” No worries! A graphic designer can help in creating a style and overall brand for your company. Although, if you are just starting out, you can give it a go for yourself. Just please, don’t use Papyrus or Lucida for your font choice.
To start thinking about your brand it is important to figure out what you like. Find colors that pair well together, research other company’s logos, and go simple on the font choices. Unless, you are a trained professional, crazy font choices will just hurt your brand more than help. Once you have decided on what you like, put all your ideas on paper and you have the start of a style guide.
Do I Really Need Social Media?
Quite simply, yes. Social media is a great way to tell people about your business. It’s informal and allows customers to see another side of your business. Now this does not mean you have to sign up for every social media platform available and post six times a day. Pick a couple of platforms that relate closest to your client base and work with those. If your client base is a stay at home mom and you sell crafts, Pinterest might be your place. If your client is a 20-year-old college student, check out Instagram. Knowing your customer will go a long way in helping you know what social media platforms you should be using.
Overwhelmed? Call for Help
If you only understood every fifth word in this article and feel completely overwhelmed, just breathe. There are many companies that focus on helping the small business owner get up and running so you can focus on your business, and not on your online presence. You can google web designers or graphic designers; ask around on social media, or even hire someone through fiverr or upwork.
Creating an online presence is becoming increasingly important and it’s not going away (well unless a zombie apocalypse happens). It can literally make or break a company. Don’t hurt your odds for increasing your customer base by being the last one to the party.