Website_Elements_body.jpgBy Jennifer Shaheen.

A recent report released by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of small business mentors, showed that although 97 percent of all shoppers search for products and services online, more than half of all small businesses don’t even have a website. Among those businesses that do have a website, 37 percent report that they only generate between one and five percent of their business from it.


If you’re having a website built for you for the first time, or having your website upgraded in the hope of increasing sales, you want to be sure to include these four essential elements:

1. Fast loading on all devices

Consumers expect websites to load instantly, whether they’re on their phone, tablet, or laptop. One out of every four visitors will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in four seconds or less, according to Shaun Anderson, an internet marketing technology expert. Google uses site load speed as one of the many factors it considers when determining site ranking. In other words, the slower your load speed, the harder it becomes for potential customers to find your business. Have your web developer test your site’s load speed on a number of different devices. You can also test it yourself using free tools from Google.


2. An engaging experience

Ideally, a visit to your website should be as satisfying to your customer as a visit to your brick and mortar location. Make sure your site is visually and emotionally aligned with your in-store experience. Integrate features such as video or animated elements, and consider gamification elements such as quizzes and social media games so your web visitors are entertained. The goal is to pull the user in as part of the experience. Be sure to think about the touch factor as you add tabs and buttons on your site; most visitors use their fingers, not a mouse, to navigate.

3. Clear, easy to understand navigation

Let your customer know where they can find essential information about your business with clear, easy to understand navigation. These elements need to be designed to work on mobile devices as well as desktop computers. As a best practice, stick to no more than four to six navigation items. Talk to your web developer about sticky headers, which allow the navigation bar to travel with content, staying in place as the site visitor scrolls down. Or consider expandable navigation to make mobile browsing clear and user friendly.

4. Contact and social share tabs

Make sure your customer can get in touch with you—or further their relationship with you by connecting on social media—by including click to call features as a contact item or links to maps for directions. Also, be sure you are including social sharing buttons on blog posts or products. Social links are not only a good best practice, they can help increase the amount of business you receive to your website.


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