Small local businesses now a days will always benefit from having a positive online presence. This is due in part to the fact that the internet now has around 3 billion users, up from 738 million in 2000. These are some serious numbers that just can't be overlooked, and finding your place on the internet has gotten very easy. Companies such as Facebook, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google My Business  have really made a leap in helping businesses create not only an online presence, but a connection with their users. All of these services are great, but they still do not match the bump in credibility that a website gives. Think of the companies mentioned as an extension of your website. They are there to drive customers to your website and ultimately make a sale. Let's be clear, there are countless strategies to create a website and be successful. In this 6 part blog, we will go over just a few of the crucial elements for any local business website design.

Purpose

In this day and age of the internet, it is common to see just about every local business have some sort of website, but how many of those businesses have an idea of what the purpose of their website is? Many just don't know. They know that they should because a friend has told them or a marketing consultant has preached it, but most businesses just don't have a great connection with the users that are using it. This can lead to many missed opportunities and even taint their online presence.

Generally speaking there are two types of websites. On one end, you have the very ancient web 2.0 website that has been stitched together in an attempt to make it work due to the lack of direction and purpose. On the complete opposite end, you have those newer companies that want a website to get their company off the ground, but unfortunately overthink the process of coming up with a concrete purpose for their site and fall flat on their butt.

With all of this said you are probably wondering, "how do I give my website purpose?" or "how do I tell if my website successfully accomplished this so called ‘purpose’ you speak of?".

"How do I give my website purpose?"

It is no surprise to anyone that the variety of local businesses is vast. This means that each business is probably different in the way that they will provide purpose to their online presence with a website. Major factors to consider when deciding what your website overall goal is to ask yourself, "do I want to sell products and services through my website?", "do I want to use my website as a lead generator?", "do I want to use my website as a way to establish my credentials?" These are all great questions to ask and will greatly improve your journey on giving your website the right kind of purpose.

"Do I want to sell products and services through my website?" (E-commerce)

E-Commerce is a great way to extend your cash flow over the internet. However, an e-commerce website requires a lot more on the development site and can be much more work through the upkeep of the products.

"Do I want to use my website as a lead generator?" (Common Small Business Website)

Using your website as a lead generator is probably the most common, and is a lot less expensive than an e-commerce website. Lead generation is heavily dependent on how well you represent your company through great content, as well as how well you use CTAs, or Call To Actions.

"Do I want to use my website as a way to establish my credentials?" (Portfolio Website)

Typically you see a website used in this way with more of your very small businesses, freelancers, local artists, etc. This is likely the easiest way to approach a website, but is it right for you?

"How do I tell if my website successfully accomplished this so called ‘purpose’ you speak of?"

When gauging how successful you purposed your website, you can simply look at the numbers. If you don't already have Google Analytics installed on your website, please get it now. This will drastically help you determine what works and what does not. You are able to find some very wonderful information through Google Analytics such as Bounce Rate, Traffic, and Conversions.

Other notable factors

The scope of your business

As mentioned before, each business is different and determining the best strategy or ‘purpose’ truly is best determined by what brings the money in. Be honest with yourself: money is what drives business and to keep it going, you have to make more of it. A law firm focusing on wrongful death most likely will not generate many leads through Google search or PPC (pay-per-clicks) ads. However, having a concrete track record and having that information available online to the users that have already heard of the law firm will definitely seal the deal. In contrast, a law firm focusing on car accidents will have much more success with lead generation through Google search and PPC due to shear search volume of the niche.

Location, Location, Location!

It is always a great idea to determine where you want to focus your marketing efforts. A local freelancer will most likely focus on just one area, where as a small studio may want to look in to focusing on a bigger area.

Business Structure

Getting leads from your website is great, but without the right business structure to handle those leads, it can be very costly. Be sure that you have the manpower to handle the leads, as well as a plan on how to manage them. A very active website that provides many leads can bite you in the butt if it is poorly executed. A user looking for a service or product will expect a reply back in a timely fashion. Don't make them wait! Poor customer service will reflect on your business and even start to spill over into your online reviews.

Taking it all in

The first step to any local business website is strategy. Without a plan, things can become a little misguided and can truly do more harm than good. Giving your business an excellent 'purpose' in regards to your website is only the first step. This step plays a bigger role in the future of your website and can drastically improve the efficiency, as well as the amount of financial efforts to achieve your website goals.

Next Time

Next we talk about some core aspects of design that influence users solely through typography.

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