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15 Must-Haves for an Effective Website

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Appeared in AMERICAN QUILT RETAILER June 2022

Your website is the most efficient marketing tool. It serves your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Every year sees many changes in the world of websites. As a business owner, it is hard to stay on top of trends. Here is a checklist of website and design “must-haves” to make the experience clear and precise for your visitors.

1. Call to action

Forgetting this detail prevents your site from converting a visitor into a customer. A call to action tells your site visitors what they should do next. Do you want them to visit the shop, subscribe to your newsletter, or attend a certain event? Is this call to action clear on your site? If not, you need to create one and add it promptly.

2. Quality over quantity

Consolidation is key to today’s website design. Sites have fewer but more useful pages that offer more impact per page. You no longer need to have 20-page websites. In fact, Google’s ranking system prefers content that is of higher quality and useful to your reader, rather than having pages just to have pages.

3. White space is king

In keeping with the “less is more” mentality, white space is key to avoiding confusion on your website. The more items you put on one page of your site, the more your viewer will not know what to focus on. This frustrates your potential customer and may prompt a visit to your competitor’s website.

4. Video

We all know video can send an impactful message to the viewer. But did you know it helps your ranking on Google too? Google loves video content on your home page and will rank you accordingly. Video is great for a quick business introduction, project how-to, testimonials, and more.

5. Social links

Is your business on social media platforms? Do you have a link to these pages from your website? If not, you are missing an opportunity to gain more followers.

8. Phone/contact information

Best practices dictate you put the store’s phone number at the top and bottom of each page on the website. Make sure the phone number is set to click-to-call for mobile devices.

9. Address

Placing the address of your store on the footer of each page helps visitors find where you are located no matter what page they are on. Plus, consider including an embedded Google Map on your contact page for easy driving directions.

10. High-quality images

Images that are fuzzy or low quality give the impression of an unprofessional business. Always use photos that are crisp, clear, and taken with proper lighting. People respond better to original images instead of stock photos, so whenever possible use photos that you took of your store, staff, and product to give a more personal touch.

6. Functioning buttons and links

Do you have buttons and links that don’t function or send visitors to the wrong page, or the wrong website? This is not only unprofessional but also will frustrate your viewer. You will lose credibility in the eyes of potential customers or even existing customers. Check all the links and buttons on your site and make sure they link to the intended place.

7. Hours

Are your store hours easy to find on your site? Have you listed them on every page? The easier it is to find your hours, the more likely the viewer is to visit your location. If you change hours based on the season, make sure the website has the correct hours for the correct season. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than arriving at your store only to find you are not open.

11. Contact form

More and more people are likely to email a question via a contact form than call, especially if they visit the website after hours. Placing a contact form on your site gives viewers an option for reaching out immediately. Test the form after you build it to make sure you get an email in your inbox.

12. Mobile-friendly

More than 60% of internet users view websites on their mobile devices. If you have a website that is more than five years old, check that it functions on a mobile device. If it does not, it’s time for an updated website.

13. Reviews and testimonials

Anytime you can show positive comments about your business it’s a win-win. Ask some favorite customers to share a few nice words about your business for your site. Four out of five readers trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations.

14. Color usage

If your business has a branding color scheme, incorporate those colors on your website. However, keep the choices to three or four colors. Too many colors can be overwhelming and make the site look busy, unorganized, and childish.

15. Font usage

Just like color usage, font usage should be limited. Using more than three fonts gives an unprofessional or unstructured feel. When picking fonts for your site, use standard website fonts such as Arial for body copy. Avoid using any decorative fonts for body copy. For headlines, any legible font works, even script fonts. The act of reading is effortless with the right fonts.

The design of a website is not something to take lightly. Ignoring the tips above can give viewers the wrong impression of your business and cost you customers.

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