Putting together a business website isn’t an easy task. Scratch that, putting together an effective business website isn’t an easy task. Anyone can go out and install an app like WordPress and select a theme that looks good to them. With a couple of plugins, they can have a working e-commerce or business website; but that doesn’t mean it is effective.
Many business that take this route, however, soon realize that the do it yourself route isn’t always the right path to take. Andrew Ruditser, the lead technology coordinator and co-founder of Maxburst, one of the renowned New York based web design companies, sums up the problems with the DIY approach. “We have a client … they used to be on a do-it-yourself platform. They couldn’t control any customizations as far as the way they looked, and they didn’t have much control over their SEO. There were some basic meta tags, and keywords, and SEO tools, but it honestly didn’t really serve them well.
When we built them a custom site, we had a lot more control over not just the design, but over a lot of the programming that was put into it. They’re New York-based, but they’re nationally ranked now on the first page. That was something they couldn’t achieve on a do-it-yourself platform. Their costs increased, of course, to do this, but that was a given in order for them to get to the next level.”
For businesses like the one Ruditser worked with, their website was found to be missing certain elements that visitors expect to see. Without the experience of a professional designer combined with the customization and control they offer, it is easy for a site to come up lacking in some key areas.
Multiple ways to contact you
Putting together a contact form that works and contains all the necessary information is critical.
It used to be that do it yourselfers could do little more than post contact information on their site with an email link. More powerful platforms offer plugins that make creating a contact form rather easy, however even these tools can be limiting.
Code behind contact forms, even plugins, can easily fail meaning you aren’t receiving inquiries and comments from your customers. You also have people who aren’t satisfied with using a contact form, they would rather call you even if it is through a Google voice number. Visitors also want to see this prominently displayed. Research shows that 64 percent of people want to see contact information on a business’ homepage.
Fast loading time
It’s no secret that visitors will quickly abandon a web site that takes too long to load. But what is too long? Unfortunately the window doesn’t stay open for long, 40 percent of people will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Bad design can definitely lead to lags in page load time, but so can the do it yourself platforms. The very thing that makes them so easy to use can be the biggest problem for these tools. As more and more code is stacked on top of the existing codebase through plugins and poor optimization, things start to run at a snail’s pace. Add to this mix the possibility of plugins conflicting with one another and you could find yourself well out of the acceptable page load time even for the more patient visitors.
A search box
Your visitors need to be able to find what they are looking for on your website. While your navigation menu should help them along their way, there is a good chance what they are looking for is much more granular than just the topics or categories listed.
Code snippets found on the web make it easy to add a search box feature to your web site. A small bit of copying and pasting some code into your HTML gives you this capability. Editing the CSS even allows you to style the search box to fit the look of your site. However, there is a catch to using free code. There is a little more scripting magic that happens outside of the HTML and CSS and those scripts often display ads or promoted sites into your search results that can only be removed by paying a subscription. Additionally, free code snippets don’t always work across different browsers so you are forced to turn to the community for help.
If you have a business website, these three elements are essential. Not having them built into your website can severely limit the functionality you give your visitors and turn them off to your business. Make sure they are not only built into your site, but that they are built into your site the right way because having a broken feature can sometimes be worse than not offering that feature at all.
About the Author: Ayrald Hubert is a Senior Analyst at Clutch responsible for research and analysis of web design agencies. Ayrald is originally from France and regularly returns to his native country during the year. In his free time, he enjoys studying up on marine life, specifically sharks, and playing soccer with his friends. Ayrald’s academic background includes a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC.