We need to talk about your website.
(If you just said “what website?”, you’ll want to keep reading too.)
It seems too many home technology businesses are overlooking some of the key elements of a successful website.
Even worse, some small business owners still question whether they need to have a website at all (the consensus answer is yes
, you do
). For starters, the odds are good that your competition has a website. In the eyes of potential clients who are comparing contractors, a company that lacks a website raises questions like, “Is this a real business or just a side gig?” and “Is this company even still around?”
Even in an industry that relies so heavily on referrals, if you don’t have a website – or if you have a website that looks like it was designed 15 years ago – your credibility takes a hit.
According to this blog post by SalesForce
, the primary goals of a small business website should be to get found, build trust, and inspire potential clients to take the next step. The most effective websites are those that contain fresh and relevant content about the business, are easy to navigate, and communicate through both words and images the characteristics you want to convey about your business, such as competent, experienced, problem-solving, or cutting-edge.
Say it’s been a few years since you really took a close look at your website. What might be missing? What might need to be refreshed? Here are a few things to look out for when updating or redesigning your company’s website: 1. Contact information.
It should go without saying, but some small business websites still make it difficult or even impossible to figure out how to contact them. Your phone number, address (with hours) if walk-ins are welcome, and email address should be readily available, along with links to company social media accounts if they are actively maintained.
A bonus is a contact form
, which allows customers to send you a message 24/7 while capturing their contact information. But only offer this option if you can commit to monitoring submissions and responding in a timely fashion. 2. Who you are.
While not every customer will want to read a lengthy history of your business, a bit of “about us” information can help establish trust and credibility. Consider including details such as how long you’ve been in the industry, how you got started, key staff, credentials, what drives and motivates your business, and your company’s mission or service philosophy. 3. What you do.
Users should be able to get a baseline understanding of what you do by looking at your homepage. In an industry that lacks a succinct and universal title like “architect” or “plumber,” this is tough. But by putting some thought into both the type of work you do and what’s unique about your company’s approach, as well as avoiding obscure buzzwords and jargon, you can send a clear message.
Consider also that you may have to use a variety of keywords to capture customers who are searching for your services – both smart home
and home automation
, or both whole-house audio
and distributed audio
. 4. Simple design (not to be confused with boring).
Remember that users are coming to your site looking for information, not trendy web-design bells and whistles. Sometimes, well-intentioned design choices can interfere with the clarity of your message. Things to be wary of include:
5. When less is more.
- Flash intros
- Animated images
- Unconventional or overly clever navigation menus
- Auto-playing audio or video
- Small or low-contrast text
- Quirky fonts
- Loud “attention-getting” colors
Busy web users don’t read; they scan. Avoid text overload on any one page, and try to break text up into scannable sections. Consider the inverted pyramid
writing style, in which you start with the most important information at the top and work your way down to the less essential details.
Also, remember that with detail comes maintenance. If you add features like blogs, employee bios, featured products, etc., be sure you have enough time to devote to keeping that information current. 6. Portfolio.
Your site should display professional photography of work done by your company, including brief captions explaining the scope of the job. A professional photographer truly makes a difference – even more so than your friend who has a “really nice camera.” But if you choose to take the photos yourself, see the photography tips in this Slideshare presentation
from CEDIA’s Electronic Lifestyles® Awards
competition. 7. Call-to-action.
Make it clear on every page what you want your customer’s next step to be and how they can take that step. This can be as simple as “Contact us to [request a free initial consultation] / [schedule your in-home estimate] / [meet with our design team] / [tell us about your needs]!” with a link to your contact information. 8. Logo.
Web users have come to expect to see a company’s logo in the upper left corner of every page, linked to the homepage. 9. Other “nice to have” elements.
Some common website features that can give your site a boost include:
10. Don’t forget…
- Awards/Recognition – Listing any awards you’ve won or media coverage you’ve received can help establish your expertise.
- Customer Testimonials – For the added credibility of a third-party endorsement, display client accolades on your site (with permission, of course).
- Video – Time and budget permitting, some engaging and well-produced video content can add professionalism and depth to your website.
- Mobile-Friendliness – Mobile web browsing is here to stay, and a site that’s impossible to navigate from a smartphone can be a turnoff. Read more about the different levels of mobile-ready site design.
- Blog – A blog is a great vehicle for adding regularly updated content and portraying your company as a trusted resource. But if you go this route, be sure you can commit to keeping it updated regularly (at least once a week).
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Remember the first goal of your website: get found. SEO is the practice of making sure your site can be found through search engines like Google and Bing. Read more in our previous post on SEO.
- Measurement/Analytics – Use Google Analytics to learn more about how web users are finding your site, what they’re looking at, and what might be causing them to leave. Do more of what’s working, and refine what’s not.
- Your CEDIA Profile – If you’re a CEDIA member, your Finder Service profile page is one of the ways customers can find your site. Make yours stand out by including product images and a logo* and filling out the relevant details.
Don’t Have a Website Yet?
If you’re not sure where to start, you have a few options. Search out local or national web design or marketing firms, review their portfolios, and reach out to those that appear to have done work similar to what you’ll need. You can even seek out firms specific to the electronic systems industry who have in-depth knowledge of what works for companies like yours.
Alternatively, there are a growing number of DIY-oriented options
out there, although – as with anything DIY – you may have to sacrifice some quality in comparison to what you’d get from a pro. *Companies with one or more certified employees are able to display two project images and one logo on their CEDIA profile page.