By Andrea Rowland
Now that you’ve decided to build a website for your small business (congratulations, BTW), there’s no room or reason for procrastination. Right now, your potential customers are on their smartphones, tablets and computers looking for products or services like yours. The facts don’t lie:
– At least 85 percent of today’s consumers use the Internet to find local products and services.
– More than one-third of U.S. smartphone owners use their phones to find store locations online.
– And people used their phones, tablets and desktops to shop online to the tune of more than $70 billion in 2013.
Most likely, your competitors are already online. You’re losing out if you’re not.
Of course you’re busy. You’re probably answering phones and taking orders and shipping product and buying supplies and cutting checks and doing all the other stuff entrepreneurs do to get their big ideas off the ground. Without a lunch break. Maybe even without a paycheck. I’ll wager that’s because you’re committed to making your small business succeed, whatever it takes.
So take a deep breath, carve a few hours out of your schedule (without forcing your children to eat canned corn for dinner), and let’s get started on that website.
Home page basics
Your home page is usually where people land first on your website, so that’s a good place to start planning. This is where you’ll begin to tell your business’s unique story through a number of must-have home page elements: strong headline(s), tagline, inspiring image(s), products/services, call to action, contact form, social widgets, and kudos (endorsements, badges, logos).
This is the one-liner that sums up your business. It generally occupies prime real estate near the top of your home page, near your logo. Let’s say you’re in the business of organizing closets. Your tagline might read something like: We organize your closets so you can get on with the rest of your life.
Short and punchy headlines on each page of your site quickly tell visitors what your business is all about and what you’ve got to offer them on that page. The idea is to capture their interest with just a few, well-placed words. The one or two headlines on your home page usually give a snapshot of your main offerings. For example:
– Get organized in a day!
– Fast, professional & affordable service
– A few skeletons? No problem! (Well, maybe not. But it’s kind of funny, right?)
For tips on writing meaningful headlines, see Best Practices for Website Content.
You need powerful, visual elements to attract visitors’ interest and to balance out the text on your home page. First, choose a compelling central image or a video to anchor the page. For instance, you could embed a YouTube® video that gives a before-and-after closet tour or a high-quality photo of a beautifully organized closet. Next, pick smaller images to illustrate key sections of your home page, such as a photo for each of the primary products or services you highlight on the page.
For tips on creating videos with your smartphone, check out this article.
Products and services
Wet visitors’ appetites for your products or services by calling them out on your home page. You can highlight them in a short, bulleted list (with a link to your site’s products/services page), like this this:
— Free closet consultation
— Full-service installation
— State-of-the-art shelving
— Before-and-after pics for your scrapbook
Another option is to pick a handful of key products/services to call out on your home page with mini-headlines (called “subheads”), followed by short descriptions. This option works well if you have strong corresponding images.
Bonus: There are plenty of templated design options to make your layout look great.
This is the main thing you want people to do after they visit your website, expressed in an exciting, active way. Along these lines: Call today for your free consultation!
It’s important to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you in whatever way works best for them, so you’ll want to include all of your business’s contact information on your home page. Many template-based site builders also include a map feature. Add a contact form to your home page to make it simple for visitors to shoot you a message — and as a way to generate leads from your website.
Your website is a perfect platform to connect with customers—especially when it integrates feeds from social media sites like Facebook® and Twitter®. By adding “Share” and “Like” buttons on your home page, you can cultivate relationships with existing and potential customers, establish credibility, and build your online brand.
To learn more, see Best Practices for Using Social Media.
Have you been recognized for any remarkable achievements? Do you participate in professional or trade organizations? Do you support specific charitable causes? If so, use your home page to showcase the badges, logos, certifications and guarantees that testify to your street cred. Also, pick a quote from your strongest customer testimonial to feature on the page. Like this dazzling endorsement: “Thanks to the pros at Clutter-Free Closets, we no longer face an avalanche of basketballs and tennis rackets every time we open the closet door!”
Most template-based website builders, including GoDaddy’s Website Builder, also offer prompts and/or sample text in each of these areas to help you move through building your home page. From there, you’re only a few pages away from publishing a website that will put your small business in front of all those customers looking just for what you’ve got to offer. Now, about that canned corn …
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Bio: A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as an editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.