The Internet is a good aid for setting up a business. With the high cost of traditional marketing and advertising, looking for economical and practical ways to advance your business is vital. As an entrepreneur, there are many things that you can use on the web to help you establish your company, and one of the most popular web strategies you can utilize is putting up a business website.

When craftily designed, a website will help you build up your business image, reach out to clients (worldwide), and increase your profits.

Business Website must haves

No websites are made alike. Some are better than the others. With the myriad of existing websites on the Internet, what can you do to ensure that your website will make its pitch? And more importantly, converts its visitors into paying customers.

Here are the four essentials any business websites must have: (1) appearance, (2) quality content, (3) functionality, and (4) usability, which you have to follow to create a website that will stand out.

1. Appearance

Humans are highly visual creatures and a pleasing website layout is an automatic attraction. The guidelines for a good website appearance are good color scheme, readability of texts, meaningful graphics, quality images, and simplicity.

a. Good Color Scheme – Use an appropriate color combination. Not too loud. Not too soft. Apply two to three complementary colors on the website. Know what colors are pleasing to the eyes and what combination exude professionalism and ease.

In a research conducted by Coursaris, Swierenga & Watrall (2013) regarding website colors and website’s attractiveness, it was found out that cooler primary colors make a website appears more orderly, aesthetically pleasing, and useful to the users.

Blue is highly recommended for the backdrop and the top part of the page. This finding is supported by the Psychology of Color wherein it was stated that color blue is preferred by both men and women alike. But then of course the colors you would want to use really depend on the niche you want to serve.

Another recommended color is white (technically, not a color). Having white as a dominant “color” in a website creates an image of free space and ease of navigation see Apple or Google for samples.

A quick trick to learn what colors fit together is by simply looking at the nature. Its natural color combinations will “wow” you. By looking at a tree with flowers for example will show you that brown blends well with green, orange and pink.

You can also visit these two sites that I share with my clients when they are not sure what colors they want to use:

b. Readability of Texts – For basic design and simple color combination, black text on a white background is the best. However, there are other acceptable color combinations one can use on a website. The general rule in text’s and background’s color combination is: if the background is dark, make the text’s color light; if the background is light, do it the other way around.

Aside from font color, font size is also very important for the readability of the contents. As much as possible, the font size of the paragraphs should be kept between 10 and 12 pts. Moreover, the more important details should be written in a larger font size so as to be easily noticed and be given emphasis.

For font style, here are some resources you can check to help you decide which fonts work together:

c. Meaningful Graphics – Graphics are very useful if one wants to add variety and appeal to a website. They are highly visual and more attractive than plain texts. As deemed appropriate, one can use a variety of graphics from the colorful ones to the monochromatic some. However, it is advised that graphics must not be overused in the website. They should also have more function than being decorative. They should add meaning or context to the written text. As much as possible, limit graphics to three or four per website page.

It would also be wise to limit the size of the images that you will use. A large image will contribute to the slowness of your website speed. Use image manipulation tools like Photoshop for cropping and resizing. Contact me if you don’t have the time, tools, or skills to produce awesome graphics.

d. Quality Photography – Putting up high-definition photos on the website will likely attract visitors and will help you convey to the users the purpose and services of your website.

Upload photos that are in line with your website’s design and business’s goals. One good example could be using pictures of buildings and landscapes if you are an architect and your business is architecture.

For free stock photos that doesn’t look like stock photos ;) I highly recommend Pixabay.com. Create an account so you can download the highest quality they are offering.

e. Simplicity  User’s preference for simple website design was shown in a study conducted by Google in August 2012. According to the study, the users not only judge a website’s attractiveness really fast – 1/50th or 1/20th of a second, but they also prefer simple website design to visually complex ones. Aside from being deemed more attractive, simple design is also cheaper to make and easier to fix.

The following may help you achieve it:

  • Avoid flashes as much as possible
  • Decide to use as little menu items as possible
  • Make your Call To Action (CTA) visible (aaaand make sure that it works)

2. Quality Content

If you have been dabbling around social media sites and consuming blog contents for a while now then you must have already heard that “content is king”. This simply means that with all the noises in the world wide web, what value does your content are offering to your website visitors. Are they valuable information or is it the same outdated contents that everyone else are sharing. 

Important notes when it comes to presenting your content: Display contents that are readable, sensible, and substantial. Always consider summarizing long texts or putting up keywords. Internet people have the shortest attention span throughout the history.. well it’s not a fact, I just thought of that lol. They usually just scan for important points. So make sure that your website contents are relevant, concise, and user-friendly. Use bullet points or blurbs when needed.

3. Functionality

Functionality is concerned whether every component of the website works quickly and correctly. Broken links or poorly constructed elements of the website will turn-off the users. It is also advisable that all “clickable” elements in the website, when opened, will redirect to a new tab or window. This is to give the users a better disposition to peruse the contents of each page.

Just as important as the technical parts of the website are the contents which should be double-checked for their grammar, spelling, and validity. A truly functional business website will not show misleading information that does not have a sound foundation.

4. Usability

Krug (2006) defined usability as “…making sure that something works well that a person of average (or even below-average ability and experience can use the thing…for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.”

For optimal usability of the website, there are two major factors: speed and navigation. Most Internet users are impatient with slow-paced loading websites, so it is important to make sure that your website loads fast so as not to chase the users away from your website long before they learn about your website’s features, contents, and services. Invest in speed. People like to do things fast.

After securing the loading speed, you should give weight to user-friendliness. A user-friendly website is easy to navigate by all people, regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity.

A first time user should easily explore your website without a manual or with minimal supervision from others. Your menu bar should be visible. There should be an ABOUT section on your website so that people will learn about you and what value you want to offer them.

Consider following these four essential elements on your own business website. After all, in today’s world, having a beautiful and functioning website is a sign of a serious good business.

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