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How to Create a Website to Get Through Hard Times

How to Create a Website to Get Through Hard Times

September is National Preparedness Month and we’ll be posting tips on social media all about different ways to prepare your business for hard times. Because if there’s anything that 2020 taught us so far, it’s that you should be prepared for the unexpected. In this article, we’ll talk specifically about how you can create a website to get you through hard times. Because when your business needs to rapidly adapt to the world around you, maintaining a great website will help you weather any storm.

What Consumers Need from Your Website

The modern consumer trend, regardless of natural disasters or pandemics, is to check out a store online before going there in person. Why? It’s just more convenient that way. This is especially true in the wake of extreme circumstances like severe weather or rapidly spreading viruses. When a consumer searches for your business online, here’s what they should see:

  1. Your business name and description in Google search results
  2. Your contact information, location and hours are easy to find on the website
  3. Any dramatic changes to your business operations (like a store location being closed) should be immediately displayed on the home page and any other relevant web pages
  4. It’s easy to navigate to your products and services on desktop and mobile

Adapting Your Website to Meet Consumer Needs

When your website can meet all of these best practices, you’re providing a great user experience (UX) for customers in any circumstance- even when disaster strikes. And the better your UX is, the more likely you are to make sales. It’s a win-win situation! Here’s how you can address best practices 1-4 above.

  1. Write meta data for each page of your website so your business name and description appear in Google search results. Meta data is the page title, description and keywords from the back end of your website that Google displays in the search results. This is considered part of search engine optimization (SEO) because you’re optimizing each page of your website for search results! When it’s easy for customers to know who you are and what you do based on the search result, they are more likely to click to your website. Here’s a sneak peek at the meta data section in our content management system (CMS).

  2. Display contact information, location and hours on your website so they're easy to find. Here are a few ways you can do that:

    • The Contact Us and/or Locations page is listed in the main navigation
    • The Contact Us and/or Locations page is listed in the secondary header navigation, so it’s seen no matter what page the user clicks to
    • The phone number is displayed in the secondary header navigation, so it’s seen no matter what page the user clicks to
    • Or you can do a combination of the three
  3. Install an easy-to-use alert banner for your website in case of dramatic changes to your business operations. The orange banner at the top of the image below is an example of VGM Forbin’s COVID-19 alert. This allows customers to immediately see or navigate to changes that would impact them. For example, we had many financial institutions install an alert banner module on their website at the beginning of COVID-19 to alert customers of limited lobby hours for safe social distancing.

  4. Making it easy to navigate to products and services on your website is another UX best practice that will help you bring in more revenue. When people can easily find products and services, they are more likely to either come to your store to see them in person or simply request the product or service online. You can make it a great UX experience by having a “Products” page and a “Services” page listed clearly in your main navigation. Then make sure there are clear next steps/calls to action when they are on those pages. For example, tell the user exactly how they can purchase the product or request the service.

    While this isn’t fun to think about, if your business falls on hard times, maintaining a great web presence may be all you need to keep your business running. In a worst-case scenario, a completely online approach can even help you cut down on the cost of rent for a period of time.

To maintain accurate business information on your website and make the updates we just talked about, it’s important to have a website platform that’s easy to edit. You should be able to go in and make simple edits without the help of your website provider like:

  • Change in store hours
  • Updates to products and services
  • Community partnership announcements

It may seem counterintuitive that we, a website provider, are telling you that you shouldn’t need us to make updates, but it’s true! A great website platform is intuitive, makes it easy to track changes and one that you receive ample training on before the project is finished.

Talk to us about what we can do to help you update your current web presence for better UX and ultimately bring in more revenue.