Websites are old news, everyone has one these days. 20 years ago, it was only the most well-known businesses that had their own website but these days, almost every business has a website. The thing is, although every business has their own website, they are often not very good. In fact, a lot of local businesses often get roped into having websites from some kind of harsh cold calling tactic and usually, they get a bog-standard, overpriced website.
So, if you are thinking of having a website created for your local business or if you’re designing a website for a local business as a website designer, you might want to bare a few things in mind. Here are a few tips.
#1 – Make Sure It’s Functional
Website designers, and even business owners to some extent, usually end up getting a little bit obsessed over the design of the website. Business owners will usually want to pile tonnes of information on there and have a few million photos while website designers will love to create flashy things that really, often make the website harder to use.
The most important thing for any website, even websites that aren’t for local businesses, is that they are functional. They should be well thought out and have all of the information they need, without too much information. They should also not be packed with flashy features and things people are going to care about. They should have just a few pages (excluding blog posts) and they should be straight to the point.
Functionality is something that is often missed out in websites these days when really, if a website isn’t functional, chances are that you won’t retain any visitors for long at all.
#2 – Information Is Key
I touched on this on the point above briefly but I’m going to give it a whole point to itself as it is one of the most frustrating things I feel a lot of websites lack. How many times have you visited a website for a local business (perhaps a restaurant or plumber) and not found the information that you wanted? For me, it’s loads of times and I’m sick of it.
A lot of businesses have clearly spent thousands of pounds on their latest website design but then, they have the websites filled with irrelevant and boring information. I’ve been on websites for restaurants before and not even been able to find a menu or a number to call. Really? Is there any point in having a website at all then?
Information might also not be written words, it might be images. I’ve seen hotel and restaurant websites that have had no images at all. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see where I’m going to be staying or eating before I book.
#3 – Get A Real Email Address!!!!
Yes, they’re exclamation marks because this one annoys me too. I hate going on local business websites and seeing a contact email address that is something like: firstname.lastname@example.org, or @hotmail.com or some generic email address.
Now, you might not think that this is a big deal and in a lot of cases, it probably isn’t but why wouldn’t you have a proper email address @yourdomain.com? Most web hosting packages will allow you to set these up free of charge so there really is no excuse.
My main problem with this is that when I see a generic email like this on a website, I’m actually wary about even bothering to contact it. This is because websites that have these email addresses usually have them for a reason; the reason being that they don’t really thing their website is important and therefore, usually these people don’t even bother checking their emails.
In a world of Smartphone’s and tablets, a proper email address is more important than ever as it is one of the major forms of communication.
#4 – Optimise It For Mobile Devices
Now, this is something that I imagine a lot of business owners are aware of but perhaps for the wrong reasons. I know that I get a lot of emails and occasional phone calls where someone who knows very little tries to explain to me the importance of a mobile optimised website. The problem is that cold callers have a bad name and usually, whenever anyone try’s to sell local business owners something on the phone, they will be wary as to what it is.
This is understandable but this one is actually important, unlike the million directory listings that cold callers usually try and flog. Mobile users account for a vast amount of website visitors these days, especially for local businesses. There have been countless times when I’ve been out and I’ve quickly googled local restaurants if I’ve been hungry so you can see, people need to be able to access your website as quickly and easily as possible on their mobile devices.
#5 – Do NOT Use A Free Website Service
Again, one of my pet hates. All businesses need a website that works well and that is at least somewhat designed to fit in with their brand. Free website services can be very tempting but basically, you need to be less tight with your money.
A good website is the cornerstone of any business these days so it certainly pays to invest in a proper design. The good news is that a good website doesn’t have to cost the earth and you really can get a great design for under £500 easily. Even £300 – £400 can get you a good website if you choose the right designer.
A lot of local business owners are quite set in their ways when it comes to their marketing habits but really, a decent website is needed for any business. It is also important that SEO is taken into account at least to some extent in the design, so choose a designer with some SEO knowledge at least.