Word of mouth isn’t dead. But if you’re not taking full advantage of online searches, your business is likely missing out on a huge opportunity.
Many small business owners, however, think updating a website, or creating one from scratch, is overwhelmingly time-consuming and expensive. But that’s no longer the case, says Eric Mason, director of communications at Wix, which powers 35 million websites across the globe, 80% of which are small business sites.
Mason says new tools developed by companies like Wix, Squarespace and Wordpress over the last five years have made creating or refreshing websites easier, quicker and a whole lot cheaper.
“The bar is getting lower and lower,” says Mason. “There are now easy tools that allow you to do some of the most sophisticated things.”
Mason says these six tips can help small businesses transform outdated websites, making them more attractive and effective.
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Mason says the most important technological shift to keep up with is the move to mobile computing on smartphones and tablets.
“The landscape has shifted, and people are viewing you on the go,” says Mason. He says sites need to be “responsive and adaptive” to different browsers and platforms, so that no potential customer finds himself unable to fully interact with your company’s website.
To make your site more mobile-friendly, Mason suggests updating your code to HTML5 and CSS.
“Social media is extremely important for telling your story, regardless of the business you’re in,” says Mason.
Incorporating your company’s Twitter feed on the site, for instance, can help communicate up-to-the-minute news or special deals to potential customers who may not already be Twitter followers. And once you incorporate the feed into the site, it will update each time you tweet – a hands-free way to ensure your site always feels current and fresh.
Mason says one of the top three apps on the Wix website platform is the contact form builder.
“Contact forms let business owners facilitate different levels of communication,” says Mason, adding they can be used to distribute newsletters and company updates, or send out coupon codes and special sales.
Mason advises all business sites to add contact information in the footer of the site, so that customers or potential business partners can reach out on their own.
For businesses like restaurants and retail stores, which depend on in-person traffic, Mason recommends including a map feature. Google Maps, for instance, allows site visitors to zoom in and out, so they can easily guide themselves to your location.
Mason says one hot design trend is to have a “big, beautiful background image on the canvas of the website.” If you’ve recently had some professional photos taken, this can be a great way to make your site look cutting-edge.
Mason says many website designers are also taking cues from tablets and iPhones when it comes to navigation bars. “Rather than having navigation on the top or side bar, it’s interspersed, with big blocks around the page,” says Mason. “It’s more of a free-form style.”
“One trend we are seeing is big, bold collegiate fonts,” says Mason. “It’s a bold way to announce your web page.”
Mason says that many sites are also using an “Enter” page, which forces visitors to click through to the site. “This is still a continuing trend, and it definitely doesn’t make you look dated,” he says.
Wix, a website platform that powers 35 million sites across the world, shares six secrets for building an attractive and useful website for your small business.