10.12.2012 | Monica Graham
You have one chance to make a good first impression. Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting with a prospective customer, a conference call, or an email introducing yourself and your services, your initial contact is your chance to either impress or disappoint. In many first impressions, you may not even have the opportunity to directly connect with someone. Instead, people’s first impression often come from your company website and it may be the difference between whether someone chooses to engage or walk away.
When people visit your website, they should immediately have a clear understanding about who you are and what you do. Your website should be easy to navigate and information should be easily discoverable. However, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, statistics show that many small business websites lack the fundamentals, putting them at risk of losing customers with one click.
Several of our clients often ask us for counsel on their website redesigns. What should be included? How do we pick the right images to complement our messages? So, we thought it’d be helpful to share Entrepreneur’s recommendations around “5 Things That Belong on the Front Page of Your Website.”
1. Contact information: A recent survey by BIA/Kelsey, a media and advertising research group, showed that that nearly 75 percent of small-business websites don’t have an email link on their homepage. And six out of 10 don’t have a phone number. I’m surprised by this number, as I assumed including easy-to-find contact information was a given. Potential customers are not going to stick around digging for an email or phone number. They will, instead, go elsewhere.
At a minimum, your site should have a clear email link and a phone number. If you have a physical location, you should also include the full address and a map with directions.
2. Images that represent what you do: Images speak a thousand words and oftentimes it’s the images featured on your website to which people are first drawn. Make sure that the graphics and images are relevant to your company and complement the website text. It’s surprising how many websites actually use irrelevant graphics or abstract photos that are difficult to interpret.
3. Clear navigation with working links: The front page of your site should have a clear navigation system either across the top or down one side of the page. Search fields are also critical to helping customers quickly find what they’re looking for. Additionally, we recommend including an “about” tab or link on your homepage that features background on your company, a FAQ, etc.
It’s also important to check your links on a regular basis to make sure they all work, or use Google Webmaster Tools or other software to identify errors. Broken links are frustrating for visitors and can create a perception that you’re careless with your own business.
4. An email signup box: One effective way to encourage customer loyalty is with a regular newsletter or some other touch point. Put a signup box on the front page of your website to offer rewards or discounts (if relevant to your business),or provide ways for customers to stay current on what you’re up to, whether it’s attending events or launching a new service.
5. Social media links: Help customers stay in touch by providing links to your social media accounts. Use recognizable icons linked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn and place them on your homepage and throughout your site. There are also widgets you can leverage to make your content easily shareable via social media and encourage customer interaction.