Does your small business need a digital health-check?
Is your start-up website up to scratch? Give your site an honest appraisal by asking these seven questions…
When we developed Everline as a working capital product, we kicked off comprehensive research, completed a lot of user-testing and listened to small business needs to develop a convenient, flexible and relevant digital finance service for small businesses.
We wanted a product for companies that don’t have the time or money to wait the weeks, or even months, that traditional lenders take to make a decision on lending.
As the online face of your business, your website should accurately represent your company and be one of your biggest selling tools. If it's looking dated, or if online traffic has tailed off, it's worth taking a fresh, honest look.
We’ve compiled seven questions to help you give your website a digital health-check.
1. Is your home page up to scratch?
First, your home page should create a great initial impression. Is the content up to date? Does it accurately reflect what you do? Can visitors quickly understand why they should buy from you? Does it accurately reflect your branding? The average viewer takes less than 10 seconds to make a judgement, so a professional looking home page is essential.
2. How user friendly is your site?
Usability is also important. Your site should be easy to navigate, and the more ‘intuitive' you can make the user journey, the better – in other words, anticipate what customers are looking for, and arrange pages and content based on that. If you’re not sure test it with your customers and ask for feedback.
3. Is your design affecting usability?
Don't mess around too much with ‘creative’ design – most people expect to see the navigation bar at the top of a page, for instance. Avoid cramming your site with huge images that can increase page loading times and don’t overload with lots of text as it won’t be read.
4. Does your site work on mobiles?
If your visitors spend a lot of time browsing on mobile phones or tablets, make sure your website works well on these.
5. Are you compliant with the relevant regulations?
Check your website complies with all relevant laws and regulations. If you’re unsure about which laws and regulations may affect your business, you should seek professional legal advice. Pricing should be kept up to date, and you need to explain clearly how much VAT and postage and packing is payable (if applicable).
6. Is your site optimised for search?
Search engine optimisation (SEO), the process which helps search engines find and rank your site highly when customers search online, can also be really helpful for small firms lacking a big marketing budget.
Outdated or duplicated content, Flash or Java websites that search engine spiders can't ‘read' and broken or misspelt links will all result in lower rankings. Simple SEO techniques to help boost the number and quality of visitors to your site can include:
- Regularly creating fresh, engaging content on your site, such as articles or tips for customers
- Reviewing keywords in your page content to make sure they tally with how customers search for you online. Aim to use a small number of strong keywords on each page and avoid using too many as search engines may penalise you
- Making sure page titles accurately reflect the topic and content of each page and contain the key terms you'd like to appear in the search results for
- Building links – the more quality sites you have linking to your website (inbound), and the more links you include to other relevant websites (outbound), the more authoritative Google determines your website to be. More authority equals a higher ranking, so register with local web directories and team up with other businesses to build your link network
If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s worth getting some expert advice or perhaps engaging a specialist agency to help.
7. Have you asked what your customers think?
And last but not least, keep talking to your customers. They’ll be able to give you the best insight into whether your website is meeting their needs.
Russell Gould is managing director of Everline, the digital lender for SMEs. Everline provides a fast, flexible and convenient source of funding to entrepreneurs looking to expand their business, manage working capital, or fill a cash gap.
The information contained in this article is only a guide and should not be taken or relied upon as professional advice. You should always obtain professional advice before making any decisions which may affect your business.