When your website means business.

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Business websites need web designers and developers who understand business.

Web design and web designers are subject to fads. The proliferation of ready-made templates and themes (adhering to the latest web design fads) encourages shoe-horning content into presentation models that often don’t address real-world needs of business websites. Web designer/developers must have more than the technical ability to construct a website; they need sound business communications judgment to create a site that meets business needs.

Certainly having a modern-looking website is important for a business brand (a website from 2010 looks like you’re not keeping up and probably don’t care), but catering to fads without an understanding of business goals can obscure or eliminate critical aspects of the visitor experience and create a barrier to doing business with you. Your business site should help people do business with you, not turn them away in confusion or frustration.

Here, in no particular order, is our list of 10 business website essentials (an exhaustive list would be more like 50 essentials, but who has time to read that?).

1. A clear description of what your company does

Ideally, this should be on every page (such as a tagline in the site header), but it always needs to be on the homepage in a condensed form, and in a more expanded form on an easily found ‘Products,’ or ‘Services’ page, depending on your business. It should be in plain English, rather than industry jargon, although some jargon can be included if it doesn’t prevent non-experts from understanding what your company offers. In some cases (eg, real estate), images or listings can make it obvious what your business does without the need for explanation.

2. A clear description of your and/or your company’s background

Closely related to what you do, a clear statement of background gives prospective customers a reason to trust doing business with you. Typically, this kind of information appears on an ‘About’ page.

3. Clear, well-organized, obvious site navigation

Site navigation should be available on every page, and it should tell visitors what part of the website they’re in. For instance, if you are on the ‘Services’ page or any sub-page in that section, ‘Services’ should be noticeably highlighted. In addition to navigation, there should be a link on every page to a Site Map (often found in the footer). If you’re site is complex enough to warrant, a search field should also be available on every page, either in the header of footer.

4. Contact/location information on every page

At minimum, your business site should include a phone number and physical or mailing address in the footer. If it makes sense for your business, you can also include Google maps or a quick contact form in the footer. Sometimes, phone numbers are the primary way in which you want to be contacted, and they need to be in the header. But never provide only one way of contacting you, unless you want to turn business away.

5. Social media links

Social media is not optional for businesses, although your markets will dictate which social media platforms are best for your business. For instance, Facebook is hugely important to B2C, not so much for B2B. Give your site visitors ways to reach you or follow you on social media. And then, of course, make sure your social media channels are active, useful, and engaging.

6. Fresh, good-quality content

Content generation is not only important to SEO, it’s important in establishing your company’s ‘authority’ or expertise. You can use a blog, or a series of ‘articles’ or white papers; whatever makes sense for your business. But you can’t ignore the on-going publication of content if you want your website to be an important part of your marketing effort.

7. Testimonials and/or case studies

Site visitors want to know what other people think of your products and services. Every business website should contain testimonials sprinkled throughout (as opposed to listed on a ‘Testimonials’ page). If possible, they should include full names of the testimonial author, position, and associated company; at minimum, first name, last initial, position, and city, state. You can go several steps up and present Case Studies, showing how your products and services solved customer issues.

8. Images and/or video: examples of your products or work, if possible

All-business doesn’t mean all-boring. Believe it or not, your customers (no matter how ‘serious’ they may be) need to see more than words on your website to gain the impression that you’re worth doing business with. Images are great for providing visual interest and evidence of expertise, and videos are even better. If what you do is intangible (ie, not photographable), then you’re selling intangible benefits that can be represented by emotive images (sunsets, happy people, successful business pro, etc). While ‘cheesy’ images aren’t recommended, cheesy is way better than nothing.

9. A call to action

A call to action (CTA) can take many forms, and your website isn’t limited to a single CTA (although too many CTAs can be a problem). Some examples include: signup for a newsletter, get a quote, download a white paper, join the club, get a free sample, etc. The CTA(s) you use depend on your business goals and your imagination.

10. A professional designer/developer who understands business and can be counted on in years to come

(OK, this is self-serving, but allow me to justify its inclusion on the list). There are few things more frustrating than getting a new website, chugging along happily for several months, then realizing you need a new feature or something that’s broken fixed (things break because the web isn’t a static environment), and finding your web designer/developer is no longer available. At Evo, we’ve been at it more than 17 years, and we’re not losing interest, moving to New Hampshire, or getting a 9-5 job with a salary that doesn’t leave time to take care of our clients.

We’re serious about web design/development for business, and we’re good at it. And we’re here for the long haul.

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