With the increasing popularity of review sites such as Yelp and Google Places, small businesses are at risk of being criticized in both offline and online communities. This is why it’s crucial to understand the basic principles of good website design to attract the right customers to your page and to maintain a strong online presence.
Where do you start? There are quite a few common mistakes small business owners don’t realize they’re making until it’s too late. We’ve chosen to focus on three important tips to get you started.
1. Web Design is not an Art
Do you know whether visitors tend to favor the right or left side of a website? Service tools such as CrazyEgg allow you to track where and what users click on your site. There are times when users might try to click things that you haven’t made clickable. For instance, you might have a banner at the top of your page displaying your logo that stays static on every page your users visit. However, many times the user may click the banner thinking it will take them back to your homepage when all you have is a discreet “home” button underneath the banner. Mouse movement heatmaps will help you successfully decide which layout works best for visitors.
It’s important to strategically design your website because you aren’t simply designing a user interface that looks good. You’re creating a functional site that allows users to better understand your organization’s mission in a clean, organized way.
2. Know Your Audience
If you think anyone with an Internet connection wants to access your site, you’re wrong. It’s crucial to determine who your audience is. In order to do this, figure out which demographic would most likely visit your site. Take into account gender, age, profession, and most importantly, technical competency. Do you have an active Facebook page for your organization? Take a look at the demographics on that page to help you determine who’s most likely visiting your site.
Demographic data is great to have in order to focus your site’s design and content. For example, a social networking website for a younger audience needs a different layout than that of a health and nutrition site. If you know your users are mostly older and less tech savvy, easy to read text and usability should be the key focus.
3. Measure Your Results
Once you have an idea of your audience, start tracking different kinds of data to market your product, service, or organization directly to them. In order to measure your results, it’s important to learn how to effectively utilize analytics tools. Small businesses can easily turn to Google Analytics to track traffic data and much more. For the busy small business owner, Google Analytics gives access to both general statistics and comprehensive reports along with basic specifications, like how many visitors you’re getting, and lets you refine your information based on date range. This is helpful when strategizing the time of day to push content live. Maybe most of your traffic is coming from another country or a different time zone. Now, you’ll want to add new products when its 9AM in Delhi, India, say, rather than 9AM in Vancouver, Canada.
Learning the ins and outs of analytics tools like Google Analytics or KissMetrics will help you to learn about your audience and it will help you figure out effective marketing strategies to maintain those users as well as bring in new traffic through external sources.