The must-have features of a small business website
A small business website needs to look great, AND function as a lead magnet.
These days, having not just a great looking website, but one that captures leads is essential for every business. There are many working parts to a great functioning website, and the list can be overwhelming. So to break it down, we have created a list of the top 70 features every small business website must-have. Complete with an infographic to help you understand what they are, and what are the best practices in modern business web design.
What we are setting out to achieve with this article is to get you up to speed with the essential information and armed with the right questions so that you know what you will require when you outsource your next web design project.
Your business website is key to success.
Your website is your most valuable marketing asset. Any new lead that sparks an interest in your business will look for your website to find further information about your product or service.
A website that looks great and nurtures your leads through their buying journey will work for you on autopilot 24/7. A poorly designed site will do nothing for your business. If not, it will do only the opposite – bouncing customers away, for them not to return.
Building a website is a joint effort. It requires hard from both you and your designer. So the more you understand the process, the more you will be able to ensure your business has the best possible chance of shining online.
So, let’s dig in – the dos and don’ts of a good small business website.
– HEADER AND ABOVE THE FOLD
1. Domain Name – Preferably ccTLD
A domain name should be easy to read and remember. It should also represent your business and or relate to your service or products.
Additionally, a business should have a country-specific domain (ccTLD). For a local Australian website, a .com.au domain is the recommended choice.
A Country Coded Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) is one of the best ways to show search engines and users where your business is located. It will help your site rank higher in search engines resulting in more visits to your website.
Your logo is one of your business’s most important assets. A well-designed logo inspires and gives an instant understanding of your business offering. With that, it needs to be visible at all times while visitors are on your website.
A tagline represents what your business does. It should be short but quickly describing what you offer. Placement can vary depending on the design of the website.
4. Top Menu
Although this is not a vital part of a small business website, it can play a prominent role in helping users find menu items like your contact us link, Social Media links and also your phone number. It can also be a great place to have your tagline above the logo if the design permits.
5. Phone number or link to contact details
Adding a phone number is very important for local business websites to give visitors a quick means of contacting you. Most sites feature them in the top right-hand corner of the menu.
Some businesses prefer not to be called directly for various reasons. If this is the case for your business, adding a site-wide link to your contact details will also do the trick.
Ultimately, the more communication options a customer has to contact you, the better.
6. Main menu
The main menu works as a map to the most critical areas of your website. It should contain your essential pages like home, services and or products, about, blog and your contact page.
Depending on your business, menu designs may differ from site to site. But, all menus should have the same thing in common; they should be easy to use and help visitors navigate your website smoothly.
7. Sticky menu
Like the Top Menu, a sticky menu is not a vital part of a small business website. But, it can play a crucial role in helping visitors navigate your site. A sticky menu stays on the top of your page while visitors scroll down the pages on your site. Having your menu ‘stick’ to the top of the page means visitors can move from page to page without having to go back to the top.
8. Main Heading
The main heading on the home page of your site is usually one of the first things visitors see and read on a website. Your main heading should contain the keywords that sum up your business. The keywords also play a vital role in SEO – so crafting a title that engages visitors and lets search engines know what the site is about is critical.
9. Short blurb
Your home page should feature a short blurb that describes your business, and its service. It can also contain your why, but most importantly, it should explain how you can help the visitor.
10. Call-to-action buttons
For any business site, it is essential to have call-to-action buttons. These buttons encourage visitors to make action. Actions could be to contact you, request a quote, buy now or download a free offer like a brochure.
The first call-to-action on the home of your site should be above the fold, and lead visitors to the most valuable action you would like them to take. For some businesses, it might be ‘Call Now’ for others it could be ‘Buy Now’.
11. Banner image
A banner image is a quick way to communicate with visitors visually. It should represent your business, and describe your services and or products. Try to avoid sliders – they are distracting.
– BELOW THE FOLD
12. Crucial business information
What information to add here can vary depending on your business, and its offerings. For example, for a restaurant, it could be a menu. Or for a boat dealer, it could be a map to the marina. Either way, this area is prime website real estate to engage with your visitors.
13. Introduction video
Videos are still the most engaging form of content. Having an introduction video can boost website engagement while informing visitors of your services and or products. It could also be used to promote a particular offer or deal, and leading visitors further down a sales funnel.
The number of online consumers who read and trust online reviews is increasing and now play a crucial role in consumers buying decisions. Having reviews easily seen on your homepage and sprinkled across your site provides a sense of trust with your business. If you can obtain video testimonials, even better!
Like reviews, awards and accolades aren’t easy to come by. They take hard work, and this resonates with your visitors. If your business did the hard yards and received awards, adding these in clear positions within your site will earn respect from your visitors.
16. Services & or Products
Your home page should showcase your best or highest selling services and or products. Displaying these will lead visitors to browse for more information about your business and will create a great first impression.
17. Quality content
Content is king – this goes for any website of any kind. Your small business website needs to have relevant and engaging content for both visitors and for search engines to rank high in SEO.
18. Readable fonts
User experience has got to be one of the top priorities of your site. Bad font choices can lead to degrading the overall appearance of the site and your business. Use easy to read fonts and make sure you keep them consistent throughout the site.
19. Enquiry or Online Quote form
A form gives visitors a way to make an enquiry or request a quote quickly. All depending on what your business offers,
there are a few ways to go about having forms on your site. Either on a contact us page or enquiry page or having them on each page in the same position, so visitors know where to find them.
20. Recent blogs
Frequent blogging about your subjects that relate to your services or products is not only a great way to demonstrate knowledge and authority about your niche; it is also great for SEO for many reasons we discuss in the blog page section below. Have a list of your latest blogs on your homepage tells both visitors and search engines that your site is regularly updated.
– FOOTER AREA
21. Newsletter signup form
Email marketing is still the best way to have direct contact with your customers. Newsletters provide a way to share your latest news, products and offers. Having a sign-up form in your footer ensures more chances of people signing up to your list.
22. Contact information
Visitors often come to a website to find a business’s contact information. In the footer is a commonplace to have this information and many visitors will go there to find it.
23. Business Hours
Like contact information, many visitors come to a website to find business hours. If your business is open for a set amount of hours, or your support is only open during set days, it’s a great idea to add them time slots so that visitors know when to contact you.
24. Footer menu
The footer menu contains links to the main pages of your website, like – Home, services, about and contact (similar to the main menu). This provides a better user experience for visitors allowing them to navigate your website without having to scroll back to the top to move to the next page.
25. Links to social media profiles
Having a substantial social media presence is highly recommended for any business. It is a great way to interact with your customers. Having links to your social profiles build awareness to these accounts and makes it easier for visitors to find them and follow.
26. Online Chat
The more ways you provide visitors to contact you the better – this increases the chance of a visitor becoming a new lead. Having an online chat feature delivers an instant one on one conversion opportunity. If you are unable to chat at the time, messages are stored giving you the chance to continue the conversation when you are back online.
27. Readable URL
All pages on your website should have relevant and readable URLs. For example, for your services it should read; domain.com/services, not domain.com?p=5353.
28. Breadcrumb navigation
Breadcrumbs are a type of navigation that helps visitors know where they are within your website and can improve usability and in turn SEO.
29. Page Title
Page titles help users quickly identify where they are on your website. Also, having your page title using an H1 tag helps with on-page SEO.
30. Child service pages
Child service pages are the specific products or services that your business offers. For example, boat sales is a service. Child pages could be, catamarans and monohulls. For Silo Architecture, the optimum amount of child pages is 5 or more.
31. Quality in-depth content about your service or product
Just like the quality content on your home page, having easy to read and informative content about your product or service is key to keeping visitors engaged. That being said, you don’t want to have walls of text – this will only scare visitors away. Using segregated content with clear headings, as well as items in point form will make the copy a lot easier for readers to browse.
32. Link to other pages
Links within the body text of a page are called internal links. These links help visitors find relevant and related content and help them navigate your website. Internal links also help with SEO and work best when linking only within the silos to reinforce the theme of each silo and your site.
33. Gallery of work
Having a gallery or a portfolio of work related to your service or product is a great way to show expertise in your niche.
34. Testimonials related to your service or products
Testimonials should be sprinkled throughout your website. Having testimonials that are directly related to the service or product shows
visitors customer satisfaction for the specific topic.
35. Client list related to your service or products
Like testimonials, having a list of customers who have used your service or product is a great way to show that you have experience in the niche.
36. Content offer related to your service or products
Content offers are a great way to engage visitors to take the next step towards hiring you for your service or buying your product. Examples of content offers can be a calculator for the cost of delivering a boat to a specified location or a brochure download.
37. Enquiry or Online Quote form
Like testimonials, enquiry or online quote forms should be sprinkled across your site. To take it a step further, you can add forms that are specific to a service or product asking visitors questions related the service or product.
– ABOUT US PAGE
38. Personalised about us page
The about us page is one of the most important pages on your website. It is the page to tell the story about your business – the why and the how.
Listing your team members helps visitors get to know who they will be potentially working with. Detailing your team’s experience delivers a sense of authority within your niche.
40. Client list
Just like on your service pages where you list the client related to specific services or products, adding the full list of your clients on your about page reinforces your experience in your niche.
41. Educational Posts
Content is king! Blogging benefits your website and your business in many ways. For visitors, it demonstrates your knowledge about your niche and also guides them along their buying journey. Educating visitors also helps them make educated decisions which leads to a more enjoyable working relationship once they hire your business for your services or purchase your product.
Blogging is also great for SEO. Search engines like Google love fresh content and will rank sites higher that are frequently updated than others that don’t. Blogging also allows for more keyword opportunities, such as long-tail keywords.
42. Search function
Having a search box on your blog pages is a great way to offer visitors an easy way to find a blog on a specific topic.
The sidebar of your blog page is a way to help visitors navigate your blog and can also be used to promote your social media pages and calls to action to your content offers.
You can have multiple sidebars, which allows you to have specific calls to action related to each blog.
44. Internal links to services or products
Blogging is an excellent way to build authority within your niche. If done correctly, you will be bringing in traffic via SEO to these blogs. After visitors have landed on your blog post, it is good practice to have internal links to your services or products to lead them further along their buying journey.
45. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is still the most effective method of digital marketing. Leads that come through searches are more likely to employ you for your services or buy your products. Optimising the content and the meta tags are essential to ranking highly in search engines.
46. Social media share buttons
The goal of any blog is to engage the reader. Having social media share buttons allows visitors to share your content on their preferred social platform in one click! This drives more traffic to your site and builds brand awareness.
47. Comment feature
Allowing comments on your blog is a great way to start a conversation with your visitors. Building relationships with your readers is a great way to nurture them along their purchase journey.
– CONTACT PAGE
48. Business contact information
Though a map is helpful, you must also mention your address anyway. In many cases, people visit your site to know your business address.
Many visitors come to your website to find your contact details. Having your street address, phone number and contact email are recommended depending on your type of business. Also having a map can help potential clients or customers find your office or store.
49. Hour of business
Depending on your type of store or business, it can be essential for your website to have opening hours. Be sure to update these if you do change trading hours, and keep public holiday information up to date.
50. Contact form
Contact forms are an excellent way for visitors to contact you easily. Some find it easier than having to call or open their email program.
51. Captcha or anti-spam feature
Spam filters or Captcha are now standard practice for contact forms. These make sure that bots are kept out and only genuine enquires are sent. Without these, you are bound to get spam and unsolicited emails.
– OTHER INNER PAGES
53. FAQ page
Every business has a collection of common questions that their clients or customers ask. An FAQ page contains these questions with their answers so that one, the visitor does not need to contact you to ask them and two, you won’t need to answer the same questions over and over again.
SOME OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
54. Mobile responsiveness
These days it’s mobile-first when it comes to web design. If your website is not tablet or mobile-friendly, you will lose potential customers instantly. Also for SEO, Google now ranks sites that are mobile-friendly higher than the ones that are not.
55. Hamburger menu on mobile
A hamburger menu has become the icon everyone recognises on a small screen to open up the menu. Because full menus do not fit onto smaller screens, the hamburger menu is used to signal users where they can navigate your website.
56. Browser compatible
Browsers tend to render websites differently. With that, your site needs to be compatible with all browsers – especially the most popular ones like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.
57. Google Analytics integration
Google Analytics is the best tool for analysing traffic to your website. Google Analytics can provide wealth with great information like visitors browser, location and what pages they engaged with. Armed with this data, you can streamline your marketing efforts making it an invaluable tool for your business.
58. Google Search Console integration
Google Search Console is a great tool to oversee your site’s overall performance in search results. If your site has search-related issues, malware attacks or problems that affect your SEO, it’s a great way to find and fix these issues to improve search performance.
59. Optimise website speed and performance
It has become common practice to optimise pages on a website to load in under 4-5 seconds, with the optimum being 3 seconds or less. The reason being is that many visitors will leave a page before even visiting it if the page takes longer than 5 seconds to load.
60. Browser caching and minifying scripts
Browser cache help pages load quicker, which is essential to improve user experience as mentioned above. Browser caches store a page’s information so that when a visitor returns to the same page a second time or more, the page will load very quickly. On top of caching, minifying your scripts such as Java and CSS will ensure pages will load quickly the first time around.
61. LocalBusiness Structured Data
Structured data is data that helps search engines understand the content of your website. It can help display pricing and review ratings which can give your search appearance a boost with my visibility amongst other search listings.
62. Fast hosting
This goes without saying – to have a website that loads fast; you need fast and reliable hosting. Simple.
Your website is your most important marketing asset. Your site must be protected from any hackers and malware. For example, plugins and themes need to be continuously updated to the latest version to keep up with security patches. Having a website care plan in place ensures that someone is on top of this, and has your website protected.
64. Site backup
Daily backups are vital to ensure you can have your website back up and running in no time if your site was attacked.
65. Easy to manage
Using a CMS like WordPress gives business owners the freedom to efficiently manage their website by adding, deleting or editing their content 24/7.
THINGS TO AVOID
66. Automatic music in the background
No one likes to be shocked. Having music that automatically plays when a page is opened is a sure way of losing a visitor very quickly.
67. Don’t use flash
Once upon a time, Flash ruled supreme. These days it is slowly being pushed aside, and now many popular browsers won’t load it automatically, meaning visitors will be faced with broken or blank areas on your page. If you need animation, Java can now replace these elements.
68. Do not upload the video to the webserver
If you want to add videos to your website, use sites like Youtube or Vimeo and then embed the video. Uploading to your web server will slow down your page, and with that, you will lose visitors.
69. Moving slider
Moving sliders were once very popular. But they are distracting and can be heavy in size leading to slower load times. Avoid them at all costs.
70. Don’t launch and forget it
One of the most common mistakes with websites. Many tend to believe that once you launch your website, the job is done and the site will magically bring in clients on autopilot 24/7. Just like a car, it requires maintenance. It also needs fresh content to keep both visitors and search engines engaged.
We hope you found our post, 70 features every small business website must have, informative and it helped build a greater understanding of what a small business website should contain.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or reach out to us today! We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.