Living in the 21st century means we have to keep up with the changing digital environment and stay on-trend. Having an online digital presence in this digital era is important in order to remain competitive. A good place to start is by having a company website. 

The first-ever website was developed by Tim Berners-Lee and went live in August of 1991, it has no colour, no images and no excitement. It was pretty much words on a page with a spammy looking URL: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.

Image Source: ScreenShot from http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.

If it was not for Berners-Lee, big companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook would probably not exist today. These companies owe their success to the rise of the digital age. Yet there are local businesses that still need to stand out from their competitors. Take the real estate industry in Australia, it is an AUD8,800 000 000 industry with around 708 businesses in the country. That may not seem like a lot of businesses, but given the industry revenue, having to compete with 707 other companies does require a business in real estate to stand out. 

Why invest in a website?

Websites are used for a variety of reasoning such as finding information, booking events, purchasing products and connecting with people on an everyday basis. Many big companies have adopted the use of a website, yet many small businesses are still hesitant to fully embrace it. A business website is essential in order for businesses to survive, here is why:

1. Important for accessibility

Businesses without a website mean that their business is not even an option for the millions of people who use search engines to help make a purchase decision from their business. Having a website may not create a swarm of visitors but it does put your business on the map. A business website provides the main point of access to anyone using the internet. However, even if a business does already have a website, in order for search engines – like Google – to find and rank their site above the rest, they would need to use SEO in order to achieve this. 

2. Websites provide credibility

With the rise of social media and the internet, consumers are overwhelmed with different choices, and because of this their decision-making process involves researching and comparing prices, functionality, reputation of the brand and many other factors long before purchasing a product/service. Having a business website adds legitimacy to your business, as without one, you will be relying on word of mouth to get your business out there instead of creating a trust and transparently online overtime. Additionally, due to COVID-19, marketing activities and business activities are going on so failure to create an online presence will result in isolating your business from reach more customers. 

3. Potential to increase leads and sales 

As a website enhances credibility, it has the potential to convert people into quality leads and increase sales. In order for this to take effect, a strong digital marketing strategy will need to be implemented to attract thousands of monthly visitors to the business website. It is a long yet rewarding process as the more time customers spend on a business website, they become more familiar with it. Therefore, once the business has won the visitors over, they may feel inspired to sign up for a newsletter to receive promotional emails. Subscribers are those customers who are genuinely interested in the business brand and since they are engaged, they are more likely to make a purchase. 

Elements every website should have

Having a business website does not make your business instantly favourable, there are various elements that need to be included to make it better than the rest. These factors include:

1. Navigation bar

This is a menu bar that assists users to move around a website. A simple design is always most effective as users can become overwhelmed if the menu options are abundant. It is important to note that when designing a navigation bar it should not take up too much space on the site, yet every business is different so every navigation bar will be different. 

2. Call to action 

A call to action is probably one of the most, if not the most important element on a business website. It needs to bold, eyecatching and standout from the rest of your content as it tells visitors you what you want them to do 

3. Basic contact forms 

The point of a website is to give your business credibility, therefore having a contact page provides the sprinkles to the credibility bowl. A contact form can be a form like for a free quote or to book a consultation. These forms need to have a simple design and ensure it is relatively short and easy to fill out. 

4. Great UX

User experience (UX) refers to consumers’ digital experience with the business website. As more businesses are taking their offerings online, businesses must build relationships through their digital channels.  UX involves structuring each page so it is easy for the user to navigate. Check out this UX cheat sheet to ensure your customers have a good experience with your website.

5. Solid content 

Content is king when it comes to setting your website apart from your competitors as it delivers the right message your business wants to deliver. Ultimately, content wins customers and their wallets, as it should always begin with proper market research thereby making it credible. The design of a website does not sell the products/services you are offering, but the content is what wins the hearts and minds of your customers. 

Website trends to watch in 2021

As every good website has the important elements mentioned above, there are those websites that go from good to great by keeping up with the latest website trends. While some elements assist in telling a business story, others improve how content looks on specific devices. It is not necessary to include very trends, yet many of them do have to potential to improve the visitor’s experience. Here are a few elements and trends that can be useful:

1. Large typography 

Having a large typography is a design trend that leads readers to different parts of the page. The development of a business brand including choosing the typography as it indicates who the brand is, are you serious or fun? Regardless of the type of font the business chooses, it should be applicable across all browsers and computers. 

Image Source: Zero.com

2. Hero images 

Hero images are basically large images that create a visual experience encouraging visitors to scroll down and read more. If a business decides to use hero images, they need to ensure their images are responsive in order to provide good UX as having a seamless experience across all devices is important. 

Image Source: Medium.com

3. Background videos 

Videos that automatically play in the background focus on enticing the visitor from the moment they land on the web page. These videos can be used to tell a story and can reduce the amount of content that is needed to explain the business, as the key points are highlighted in the video. Additionally, according to Psychology Today, our brains process videos 60, 000 times faster compared to text. The one need businesses need to be wary of is that the video does not reduce the page speed as page speed is a key factor of good UX. 

Image Source: Wistia.com

4. Giant product images

Giant product images have recently been used by many B2B websites to highlight specific features of their product offering. By using large product images, it reinforced the benefits of a feature by providing highlighting the most valuable features. 

Image Source: CleverClicks.com

5. Feature videos 

Short feature videos are just as favourable as background videos as these videos highlight a specific way to use a product/service. These videos are great for explaining the solution the business has to offer without overwhelming the visitor. Inc. Magazine stated that 92% of B2B customers watch online videos and around 43% of B2B customers watch these online videos when researching a business’s product/service offering. It is therefore recommended that B2B companies create short videos explaining their products as it can impact the buyer’s decision-making process. 

Image Source: Invisionapp.com

In summation, having an online presence is important for any small-medium business that wants to grow and retain customers. And the way to a successful website is to include the necessary elements and follow certain website trends that emphasis your business. 

Well, that’s all folks. Stay tuned for more in-depth information about these important elements ????.

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