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5 Components Your Business Web Site Needs

5 Components Your Business Web Site Needs

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    Last week I talked about why a strong web site is crucial to your business. Today I’m going to talk about five components your web site needs and why you need them. Bear in mind, however, that these five aren’t the only components you need. At the end of the article, I’ll mention a couple of other things you may want to include. Now, you can’t just slap these components on a web site and have something great. You’ll still need some solid graphic design, good usability and ease of navigation, plus you definitely want to make sure your design, copy, and code are developed using principles of search engine optimization. With those cautionary notes aside, let’s dive in to the five components you need for a successful web site.

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    1. Opt-In Box

    If you’re not capturing your visitor’s details with an opt-in box, you’re missing one of the greatest marketing tools available online today. An opt-in box is a place where people enter their name and e-mail address (or just their e-mail address, but I’ve found it’s useful to have more information), and then they subscribe to your e-mail newsletter or e-zine (pronounced “EE-zeen”). You can start building a relationship with your subscribers with regular, useful contact (defining “regular, useful contact” is a separate article in and of itself).

    2. Who you are

    Generally speaking, if you’re selling either a product or a service, you’ll want your customers or clients to trust you. Part of building trust is sharing a bit about you and how your company got started.

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    3. What you do

    Obviously, if you want to sell your products or services, you’ll need to talk about them. This is where good marketing copywriting comes in handy. If you’re not good at writing marketing copy that converts visitors into buyers, hire someone who knows how to do it well. Investing in good copywriting can make all the difference.

    4. Sticky content

    Sticky content refers to any content on your web site that attracts people and keeps them there, kind of like flypaper. Consider your blog, articles, audio and videos, and other resources, to be the flypaper that keeps visitors “stuck” to your site. The longer they stay at your site, the more likely they are to convert into buyers. There is, however, a point where your content will hit critical mass and can be too sticky. If you give too much away, your potential buyers won’t need to buy. They’ll settle for the freebies and never convert into sales.

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    5. Contact Information

    Potential clients and customers will want to know how to contact you for several reasons. If they can contact you, they can buy from you with the assurance that if they experience any troubles with the product, they’ll be able to ask questions or process returns easily. Also, they can ask you questions before they buy. There’s a long list of other reasons customers and clients may want to contact you, and they’ll feel safer buying if they can contact you easily. So provide at least phone and e-mail, and if you can, provide a physical address as well. If you work from home, don’t post your home address. Instead, get a P.O. box or a box at the UPS Store and post that instead.

    If you’re selling products or services online, in addition to these five components, you’ll do well to invest in a shopping cart system and a payment processing system. Forcing potential buyers to contact you to get purchasing information ensures that those buyers will go elsewhere most of the time. We live in a high-demand, instant gratification world. If someone is shopping in the middle of the night or on a Sunday and they want what you have to offer but they can’t get it when they want it, they’ll buy it from someone else who can deliver instantaneously. Don’t give your potential buyers a reason not to buy from you.

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    So how do you implement all this stuff? How do you get a web site with these components, plus good design, good usability, and strong SEO? Next week, I’ll talk about how to hire a web firm to design your site. I’ll tell you how to educate yourself so you know enough to ask the right questions and know when you’re getting the right answers, how to balance value and price, and what red flags to watch out for.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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