How do you know what your small business website needs?
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Whether you’re just starting out and need a brand new website for your small business, or you already have a site up (but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for your business), you could benefit from determining what your website actually needs. Just having a site is not enough. Remember, a website is your most important digital asset and should be your central, online marketing piece. So putting some extra thought into that is crucial. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all, must-have list for every small business site. However, this three step process can help you sort out the basics of what your website might need.
Step 1 – Determine Who Your Audience Is
This is an important step because your website really is for your customers. While it’s best to come up with some buyer personas (Hubspot has a pretty good template for sorting that out), even having a general idea of who your audience is can lead you in the right direction. Knowing who your customers are and what their needs are, can give you valuable insight into what should be on your website.
Step 2 – Create a List of Your Potential Customer’s Needs
As you think about your business from your potential customer’s point of view, what would you be looking for on your website? This will vary a lot based on your specific industry. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, a potential customer will most likely go to your site to find out what is on your menu, what other people have said about your food (reviews), or get hours or directions. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you’ll want samples of your work, types of industries you work in, maybe case studies or testimonials, etc. If you’re a personal trainer, a potential client would probably want to know your experience, your style of training, some success stories from others you have trained, how much you charge, etc. If you’re selling products, people may be looking at price as a key factor, along with how well the product suits their needs (this is where buyer personas can really come in handy), what the main features or functionality is, etc.
It’s really easy, as a small business owner, to get completely wrapped up in running your businesses and lose sight of what people who may become customers are actually looking for. So spend some time really getting to know what your ideal buyer could be looking for on your site.
Here are some additional tips that can help you with determining your buyer’s needs:
- Survey your existing customers or clients on why they chose your business. The results will most likely coincide with your strong points. In turn, these strong points will often meet the top needs of your potential customers or clients. For example, if showing the results of how your personal training helped people get in shape fast was a deciding factor, then you definitely want to shine a spotlight on that on your website.
- If you were in your customer’s shoes, what is the single most important piece of information you would want to know about your service or product? Identify this and your site will be better at pulling a visitor in.
- Think about the buyer’s problems. No matter the industry, if someone is looking at your website, they most likely have a problem they need a solution for. If you’re a restaurant, they’re hungry. If you’re a writer, they need copy. If you’re a personal trainer, they want to get in better shape. If you sell handmade candles, they may be looking for a perfect gift. Their problem identifies their need.
Step 3 – Meet Your Audience’s Needs and Your Goals
Once you’ve got a list of what your target audience would most likely need to see on your site, it’s a good idea to prioritize it as well. Just go down the list and rate each one by importance. The most important needs should be the items with the top visibility on your site. Make these the easiest to notice or access. Map out your website pages (and any sections on those pages) based on this list of needs, combined with your own goals of what action you would like a site visitor to take. Make sure those actions are very clear – whether it’s buying a product, finding out about a current special, downloading something, signing up for your mailing list, contacting you for a quote, learning more about your services, getting directions to your location, etc.
Following these 3 steps will guide you to creating a better website because your website won’t be filled with bells and whistles and extra “fluff” that is not really doing anything for your business or for people visiting your site who may become customers or clients. Also, if you’re working with a professional designer to create your website, they will love that you’ve got these needs and goals mapped out from the beginning.
If you found this helpful, you might also enjoy reading, “How to Determine Objectives for Your Business Website”.
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