March 14, 2018
Did you know that 81% of customers look online before making a purchase? And that only 54% of companies have a website? If you’re in the remaining 46% of businesses without a website, you’re missing out on serious sales opportunity.
Today’s websites are affordable to build, easy to customize, and simple to update if you have even minimal technical expertise. In short: there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a professionally-designed website in this day and age.
But not all websites are created equal. Certainly you see a lot of cookie-cutter sites that look nearly identical and don’t stand out to visitors at all. Even if you hire a professional website designer, you want to be able to provide input on what you want on your website. These tips will help your site stand out against the competition.
1. Secure an Easy-to-Remember Domain
Your domain name (also called URL) is like your calling card to the world. You’ll rattle it off to people you meet thousands of times throughout the lifespan of your business. Would you rather rattle off:
Keeping your domain name simple is key. That can be a challenge when so many other domain names have been registered, leaving you with seemingly little choice. Stay away from domain names with underscores or other punctuation that will be difficult to speak or remember.
Use keywords you want to be found for in your domain name, like the “online fishing supplies” example.
And keep in mind there are now more domain extensions beyond .com. You could use .info, .buzz, .business…whatever makes sense for your company.
2. Use Custom Graphics
Stock images of business people are a dime a dozen online. But custom graphics? Those stand out and get people’s attention. You can use custom graphics in a variety of ways:
- Overlay text on top of a stock photo
- Create an infographic
- Design a “follow us on social media” box for a sidebar
- Create interesting and creative images for your site
I know what you’re thinking: can I afford that? Actually, many graphic design tools are free or cheap, and incredibly easy to use, even if you’re not a designer. You can customize your design in minutes instead of spending hundreds of dollars and wasting weeks waiting for your designer to finish.
3. Use a Template…But Customize It
The great thing about web design today is that you no longer have to spend $25,000 to get a great website. There are WordPress and other website templates available for under $100 (and some are even free!) that make your website look professional.
The key with templates, however, is modifying them so that they aren’t identical to anyone else’s website. You can hire a web designer for a fraction of what it would cost to get a from-scratch website to customize your template with your brand logo, colors, images, and copy. Your designer can add sidebars and remove features you don’t need, resulting in a site that’s 100% authentic.
4. Keep it Fresh
There’s no rule that says once you have your website designed, you have to keep the copy and images the same forever. In fact, updating the elements of your website will keep people engaged and coming back.
Put it on your calendar to update your homepage when you have new promotions or announcements, or simply to revisit the web copy and images and make sure they’re still relevant once a quarter.
Your blog is a great place to continually update, and doing so will keep Google and other search engines happy. Aim for a minimum of one article a week. More is better, and will attract new visitors to your site and keep them coming back to consume fresh content.
5. Use Pop Ups Smartly
We’re all familiar with pop up boxes that appear when we first visit a website. While old pop up technology has become annoying (and still used on a lot of sites, unfortunately), we can do better than pop ups that appear every time we click a page and don’t go away when we want them to.
Today’s pop up technology is smart and non-invasive to visitors. You can set a timer so that a box appears after a certain number of seconds or once a visitor scrolls to a certain point on a page. You can set them so that they only appear on a first visit, or only on one page.
Before you discount the idea of pop ups on your website, realize that, if done correctly, pop ups can garner more than a 9% conversion rate! Whether you want to get people on your email list or to buy from you, isn’t it worth it to put a little effort into making pop ups that get results?
Having a website that stands out isn’t about spending a ton of money. It’s about making small changes that impact the impression you leave on visitors.
Maggie Aland is a staff writer for Fit Small Business and editor of the Marketing and Reviews sections. She writes on a variety of marketing topics, ranging from newspaper ads to how to market your business on Facebook. When not editing or writing, you can find Maggie looking for the best brunch spots in NYC.