Do you think about what your customers think of you? Do you meet their expectations? Does your website? I’m not talking strictly about appearance here. Small business websites are about information and function more than image.
But providing the expected tools and information for customers to solve their problems is a key part of your image. You need these four things on your site to maintain a positive image of caring customer service and professionalism.
Predictable Navigation Bar
When you say your top priority is making the web design easy to use, you mean making the navigation bar and other selection tools predictable. They must be instantly familiar to your customer. If you’re doing it right, the nav bar disappears into the experience.
First time visitors to your site are there to make a snap decision. Don’t burden them with a unique and ultra-cool navigation bar that takes three extra seconds to figure out. Instead, keep it simple and predictable. Design your site to meet customer expectations.
Elements of a predictable navigation bar include:
- Placement below or directly to the right of your company logo. The logo should always be left-aligned, or rarely, centered.
- Boring (but easy) page names like About, Contact Us and Services.
- Personally, I prefer no more than five top level menu items with no more than four “drop-down” or sub-menu items in each. But you can frequently get away with a few more as in the example below.
Prominent Contact Method
Want to make the phones ring? Do customers frequently look up your phone number? Slap it up there at the top of the site. When people arrive on your site looking for contact info, they check two places. First, the header near the logo. Second, the Contact Us page. Put this vital contact information exactly where they expect it.
Or, you might prefer that people don’t call. Maybe your marketing strategy is designed to build your mailing list. Make a simple email sign-up method part of your homepage image.
Whatever contact method you prefer, just make it prominent. The idea is to give customers a clear direction when they reach your homepage. Once customers know who they’re gonna call, make it clear how to take that next step.
Proof of Wins
Love ’em or hate ’em, badges and certifications are expected. These are the graphics you get from the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, industry associations and other agencies prone to handing out plaques.
Place your Houzz Best of sticker in a sidebar. Tastefully display an Angie’s List Super Service Award in the footer. Are you a Super Lawyer? No guarantee consumers know what these honors are all about, but they’re looking for proof. When you receive an award or an important certification that proves you’re a winner, show it off.
The footer area at the bottom of your site or a sidebar on the inside is the perfect place to meet their expectation with a subtle nod to your greatness. A Testimonials page of happy customer comments wouldn’t hurt either.
If you don’t have anything to show off, why not? There are abundant opportunities to be recognized for good work. Take time to reflect on your wins and consider applying for honors and certifications in your industry. Not only because you deserve gold stars, but because customers expect to see them.
Presentation Designed For Mobile Screens
It’s 2014. You’ve heard this argument before. You’ve probably looked at sites on your phone and groaned as you pinched and zoomed a non-responsive site just to squint at an address or phone number. You know your site needs to present well on a variety of screen sizes.
Of course, now that it’s 2014, your customers know this too. Part of your image as an up-to-date, legitimate business is maintained by keeping a mobile responsive website. It’s like the difference between having a website and not being “on the web” in the 90s. While having a mobile responsive site doesn’t win you extra points, not having one is proof of lameness. You’re not just uncool, but out of sync and immobile. Don’t be lame. Check how your site looks at the most common screen sizes here.
Customers have many more expectations for your site depending on your industry. They may expect free stuff, online chat, e-commerce and other functions. But you won’t get far without predictability, prominent contact info, proof and presentation.