If your website doesn’t look professional, then you’re making a HUGE mistake.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see small businesses make is neglecting their web presence. Maybe you get most of your business through word of mouth and you didn’t think you needed a website. Perhaps you figured you couldn’t afford a professionally designed website. Or maybe you figured having something you built yourself was good enough.
No matter your reason for neglecting your website, it’s costing you business!
Why your website is costing you business
These days a business website is table stakes. People may be referring you business by word of mouth, but those referrals are looking for you online first.
Your website is your first chance to make a positive, professional impression. It builds trust the same way that a clean, quality storefront invites you to come inside and learn more. When people trust you’re a pro, and that you take your work seriously, then they’ll take the next step.
It’s called the halo effect. Create a positive first impression and people will credit it forward to everything else you do. This leads to more leads, more clients, and charging better rates (read “more money”).
Visitors to your website make that initial snap decision in less than a second according to studies, and once that opinion is formed, the sentiment is seldom reversed.
How to build a website that opens doors
The halo effect can be a major obstacle for your business, or it can be a wind at your back. Here are five keys pieces to ensuring the halo effect is an asset for you and your business.
1) Get your own domain.
This is a no brainer. Don’t build your website on something like lifestoked.wordpress.com. Buy the domain name outright. If you think people aren’t noticing your business didn’t spend a single dime on it’s own website, you’re wrong.
2) Use a pro-level wordpress theme.
One of the awesome things about using WordPress to build your website is the enormous selection of themes to make it look good. By installing a WordPress theme you can take advantage of work that professional web designers have done at a tiny fraction of the cost.
3) Cut the ads.
When your first starting a website the temptation is to slap a bunch of logos for other brands on it. Don’t.
Your website should be about you, and it should be extremely clear what you do. When your site is littered with links to other brands it distracts from what you’re trying to do, which is tell the visitor how you can help them.
4) Use high quality images.
Your images are another huge opportunity to take advantage of the halo effect. If you’re cropping images from Facebook or your camera phone, you’re probably doing it wrong. Spend some time and take pictures specifically for your website, and make them good!
I recommend hiring a photographer to take some shots, or even a friend who can help you for free. And if you need some extra pics you can always purchase high quality images at iStockPhoto for cheap.
5) Be easy to read.
Even your most interested website visitors will be turned off by large blocks of text. Break things into small, easy to skim paragraphs. Break those up with period headings.
Take this article for example. The paragraphs are short and easy to digest, and they’re organized under headings to make it even easier to read.
Don’t make this other common mistake
I talk to a lot of small business owners who get this, and never do anything about it. Why? Because they’re busy. When you’re starting and running a small business there’s always things vying for your attention.
Don’t put off something as important as the first impression of your business.