by Lina Martinez

In the modern business world, there's one thing that holds true above just about anything else: your business needs a website. It wasn't even that long ago that a website was seen as an optional extra. But even those businesses that do have a website are often left unsure of exactly how to go about getting the most out of it. For whatever reason, their website simply isn't drawing in the kind of traffic that they were hoping for. There are a number of factors that go into why a website isn't doing as well as it could be, design, functionality, navigation. And a lot of the time is a combination of a bunch of different factors. Whatever the reason is, a bad website is something your business simply can't afford. With that in mind, here are some things that you can do to make sure that you're getting the most out of your website.

Think about design

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Source - C00 License

It might sound shallow but it doesn't matter how good your business is, if your website is drab, dated and ugly, people are just going to click away. Look at companies like Apple. Their websites are crisp, clean and elegant. Audiences want to see that kind of well-designed simplicity. Not only is this style very aesthetically pleasing but it also solves another common problem with the design of a website: navigation. There is nothing customers find more frustrating than struggling to even find their way around your business in the first place. Simplification is likely to be the best option for your website. Use your research to understand what it is that your customers value the most about your website and make sure to put that front and centre.

Talk to your customers

There's really only one way to truly understand what it is that's preventing customers from properly engaging with your website, and that's to talk to them. Without actually talking to your customers, you're inevitably going to end up trying various ineffective solutions that just waste your time and energy without actually solving the problem. Ask your customers to fill out a survey letting you know what could be improved about your website. Make sure also to ask them what they do like about the website so that you avoid taking away a feature that your customers are happy with. By conducting even a small amount of research, you'll start to see trends emerge that will give you a very clear image of exactly what it is that you need to change about your site in order to make it more appealing to your customers. Don't just do this once either, make sure that you're getting regular feedback with each new change that you make. Not only will this keep your customers happy but will give you a sense of which direction modern design and online trends are moving.

Link it to your social media

It's shocking just how many businesses treat their website and their social media as completely separate entities. You should always make sure that your Facebook and Twitter pages are easily accessible directly from your website. Consider including a banner or widget that allows customers to click straight to your social media, regardless of what page they are currently on. By the same token, there's a good chance a lot of customers will find your business through social media. If someone finds your company through Facebook but is unable to find a link to your website, then it will have been essentially pointless. Make sure that your social media profiles all have clear, direct links to your website as well as including the link in whatever you post. 

Include a blog

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Source - C00 License

Every business needs a website, and every website needs a blog. While it might not seem like a particularly important aspect of your website, the presence, or absence, of a blog and make or break your business. Here's the reality: people don't care about businesses. They care about people. And a blog is the best way that you can show the human side of your business. Use the blog to create thoughtful and entertaining content for your customers. If you can engage with them directly, it will build a far greater sense of loyalty. You can also use your blog to give a glimpse behind the scenes. Let customers get to know the people behind the business. They will be far more likely to care about your business if they have a greater sense that it's being run by real people, rather than just being yet another faceless company.

Outsource to the experts

The reality of setting up any kind of website is that it can often be as complex or simple as you need it to be. Sure, there are plenty of great services that let you set up a website easily by yourself but you need to ask if that's really enough for your business's needs. If it's not, then you may want to look at handing things over to the experts. Outsourcing is one of the most valuable things that you can do when it comes to creating any kind of website, from a UX platform that allows you to best understand how your customers are responding to your website and business as a whole, to a design team who can make sure that your business's aesthetics and functionality are always working in perfect harmony to create that experience that your customers really want. Outsourcing is something that a lot of business owners worry about but it can be incredibly valuable.

Remember, the world of business moves quickly, and the online world moves even faster. Make sure that you're keeping up to date with new developments and literature so that you don't get left behind. Don't just assume that what works for your website now will continue to work for it in the future. As technology evolves and advances, so should your business. Standing still is the worst thing that you or your business can do. Make sure that you keep your eyes on the future, and always keep moving forward.