Small Business Web Site Development in 4 easy steps
Small business web site development, assuming you already have your web site up-and-running (if you don't, see our Small Business Web Design section here), is as easy as following a 4-step process - the 4 steps to having a business web site that converts more visitors into customers - guaranteed!
I'll expand and explain these four steps in a little while, but they'll be a snip to action if we first go through some general principles of the most important aspects of small business web site development that apply to all of these four steps.
Step 1: Get their attention
Step 2: Maintain their interest
Step 3: Create desire
Step 4: Call to action
What is your USP?
If your product doesn't have clear benefits over your competitors, it's because you haven't developed your 'Unique Selling Proposition' (USP for short). You'll probably have heard of the term USP, but in case you don't remember seeing it before, it's the one thing about your product or service that differentiates you from your competitors for your small business web site development.
This is not quite so important for a retailer in a high street where, depending on what you sell, there may be only one or two competitors. But it's vital on the internet where all your competitors are as close as the next 'click'! So unless your web site operates in a very small niche market, like selling ice to Eskimos, you have to have something that makes you stand out from the crowd. This is your USP. It will make the world of difference in your small business web site development.
It could be offering a lifetime guarantee when your competitors only give 30 days, or free shipping/delivery when everyone else charges, or a cheaper price, better quality etc...you get the idea. Any time you spend developing your USP, provided you have a great product or service, is time truly well spent. Check your competitors out and find out what they're not doing that you are, and maximise it to benefit your small business web site development.
Great, you've decided your USP for your amazing 'scratchit' (well everyone uses 'widgets'..author), now what? Simple - for your small business web site development, incorporate the single biggest benefit that your product or service provides for your customers and your USP into the headline and opening paragraph at the top of your page. If your web site has multiple pages for multiple products, do the same for every page.
Long or Short Pages?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. If, for example, the 'Home' page of your web site serves as an introduction to your many different products, your small business web site development aim must be to entice your visitors to go to another page of your web site to make the sale. In contrast, if you sell one product or service, then your 'Home' page is effectively the 'sales letter' for your business and needs to tell your visitors a lot more to encourage them to buy your product, contact you for more information, or whatever.
For optimum small business web site development, your page has to be as long as it takes to tell potential customers what you have to offer and why they should choose you, but not so long and repetitive that they get bored and go somewhere else. Depending on the way your web site is set up, for small business web site development, the length of 'copy' on your pages could be different on every page - just keep in mind what that page is trying to achieve and write it accordingly.
The next point contains vital information to help you achieve this for your small business web site development.
Benefits versus Features
Always talk about the benefits rather than the features of your product or service for your small business web site development.
Fact: People buy based on emotions, not logic.
This is all linked to psychology and the differences between the reptilian and the mammalian parts of our brain. By all means do your own research on this for your small business web site development if it interests you, but otherwise, just trust me...
So What? Well, this means that your visitors are interested in the benefits of your products first, rather than its features. It took me a long time to get my head around the difference between the two, despite reading a lot of books and articles about this. I finally figured out a simple definition which I've used ever since...
Benefits are about the customer...
..features are about the product.
I should have thought of it a lot sooner, because it really is that simple! For example, think of all the advertisements you see for cars. Do they mention that they have 6 cylinders, rear-wheel drive, 1000 BHP, or their fuel consumption?
No, they show a picture of the car being the only vehicle on a beautifully scenic mountain road, by a lake, or a log cabin etc., etc. The brochure for the car lists all the features (usually at the back!), the ad. whets your appetite by appealing to your emotions by showing you the benefits. That is, the implication that this is the situation you will find yourself in when you've purchased it.
If you can combine your product's major benefit to your customer in your small business web site development and some kind of re-assurance about what will happen if she doesn't like it, so much the better! For example, "Cure your back pain in 3 seconds or your money back!" (If this is your product, let me know ;-).
This takes care of both sides of the way the brain works for your small business web site development - a tremendous benefit to appeal to her emotions, then a great guarantee that re-enforces the emotional buying decision with logic.
For small business web site development, always use actual numbers where they are relevant to your product, rather than rounded numbers e.g. '258.5%' is a lot more believable than 'more than 200%' although they may both be true. Specific numbers look like they are the result of actual measurement and carry far more weight psychologically.
In Ken Evoy's acclaimed ebook, 'Make Your Site Sell!', widely regarded as the 'bible' of internet selling, he describes how each page of your web site should have its own 'Most Wanted Response' (MWR). That is, what do you want your visitors to do as a result of reading that particular page? It may be to 'phone you, purchase a product, go to the next page, join your mailing list etc.
This book is a 1200 page reference work on making any web site sell that I still refer to constantly. Check it out here for yourself. It's easily the best book I've read on the subject.
Therefore, for small business web site development, getting the MWR for each page must be your sole aim when you're writing it - indeed it's all that matters! Review each page of your web site thinking about the MWR for that page. Is your current page delivering your MWR? If it is, great!
If it isn't, incorporate all the principles in this section on small business web site development and it will improve...guaranteed! In fact, even if your page does get a percentage of visitors who action your MWR, you'll still increase that percentage if you follow these guidelines.
Words versus Images
For small business web site development, the old adage of "a picture is worth a thousand words" does not currently work on a web site. Sure, there are times when images serve a useful purpose. But at the moment, when the vast majority of your visitors are using dial-up modems for internet access, images (unless they're small i.e. take up 15k of memory or less), take a long time to download into your visitor's browser.
Unfortunately, a lot of web site designers include scrolling this and flashing that in their designs...because they can. You can easily prove the benefit (or lack of it!) of images for yourself. Just go to any web site of your choice and imagine the page without the images (or actually turn images off in your browser if you can be bothered and you know how to do it).
Now ignore the words and look only at the images. Which is more likely to get the MWR ('Most Wanted Response')?
The words every time, right? Words sell, not images...period!
By all means include small graphics to make your pages more interesting to read but, other than your company logo, don't have images at the top of the page, unless they're instrumental in what your web site is about, and even then, ensure they are small.
In your small business web site development, make sure that enough of your web page loads in the first 10 seconds to hold your visitor's attention, while the rest of the page (including any images) loads further down.
OK, that's the most important general points covered for small business web site development, now let's expand a little on the 4-step plan...
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