Elizabeth Jimney column: Building a website that works for you

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More than ever before, small businesses are now connecting with potential customers online. Having an online presence is no longer an option for small businesses. Your online presence is a combination of many things including different social media platforms, a website and email marketing software. These things all work together to accomplish the advertising goals of your business. All marketing efforts you put forth should be goal-oriented, and a website is no exception.

Before getting into the weeds of creating your new website or revamping your existing one, you should decide what you are trying to accomplish. How will your website improve your business? Why do you want a website? Having an up-to-date, efficient website can do wonders for your business in several ways. Whether it is to build your brand, make sales or provide support, it is best to start this process with an end goal in mind. A big step in the right direction is trying to understand your customers. Who is your ideal customer? To get an understanding of what they are looking for, think about how they act, how they think and how they live. Once you decide what you want to accomplish, you can decide how you will measure progress toward that goal.

You want to ensure that your website is useful to those viewing it. Is your site adding value to the customer experience? Does it distribute useful content? You want to ensure that the work you put into your website is providing valuable information to your customers. Make sure that your site includes plenty of photos – and even video content – to give them a visual of who you are as a company. Are you answering their potential questions? Does it offer a site search option, so that customers visiting your website can immediately locate what they are looking for? Is it easy to use your site on different devices such as phones or tablets? How does the design appear? You want your site to look great, no matter how it is viewed. Is there an online store to shop from or an interest form customers can complete? If you are making online sales, keep the steps to checkout at a minimum. The more steps at checkout, the less likely a customer will make the purchase. Make sure that your website is organized and easy to navigate. The most important information should be prominently displayed so that site visitors can see it quickly.

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A good website is also search-friendly. Can search engines find your website? Most people turn to search engines first when they need to locate a business or learn more about a potential purchase. Having an online presence is a requirement of business in today’s market, and having a modern, functional and useful website is a large part of that presence.

Learn more about building a website that works for you at a free webinar at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 30. Join the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State University and get help creating a search-friendly website that supports your goals. Whether you’re launching a new website or sprucing up an old one, this workshop will help. Visit www.louisianasbdc.org to register or call 337-475-5529 for more information.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Louisiana Department of Economic Development. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

Elizabeth Jimney is a business consultant for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at McNeese State University. Contact her at 475-5580 or ejimney@louisianasbdc.org.