Does your Small Business Website Deliver as Well as Pizza?
August 29, 2012
Well, does it? In the 21st century customers might not arrive by flying car or hoverboard (yet!), but they increasingly begin their shopping research online. You want to make that first impression the best possible. But how?
Let’s look at something we all know and love: pizza. It’s a staple of the modern American diet, and despite hundreds of varieties, there are certain things that stay the same no matter the pie. So what website lessons can we slice off our favorite meal?
Piping Hot, Super Fast
What’s the main reason we all like pizza? It’s a hot meal delivered straight to your door. Just imagine what would happen to a pizza place if it consistently delivered lukewarm pies an hour or two after an order. Would it matter that their ingredients were flown in from Tuscany or they had an award-winning tomato sauce? No: you’d make a different call next time you were in the mood for something fast and hot.
Here’s a reality check: web users are even more impatient than pizza customers. If they’re not getting their needs met within a matter of seconds, they’re gone. After all, there are plenty of other places on the Internet they can browse.
To keep people from clicking away (or “bouncing,” in web lingo), your website needs to get to people fast. Many times a page loads slower due to images that are too big. Just be careful that when you cut them down to size you don’t turn your cheery picture into a fun house snapshot: get images properly optimized for the web in size and quality.
Make sure your page doesn’t look like you posted a template from 1999 and haven’t been back: keep things interesting with fresh news or media. Social media is great for this kind of quick and easy updating, and most networks offer little widgets you can copy and paste into your website. Give people a reason to stay and look around.
Give ’Em What They Want
Why do pizzas make such great party foods? Think about the alternatives: sandwiches require lots of discussion about fillers and sides, and invariably someone won’t like the way chicken is cooked. Different pizza toppings allow you to satisfy everyone from the plain Janes who just want a slice of cheese to the exotic eaters wanting to chow down on everything from pineapple to coconut.
Back to your website, don’t assume everyone comes for the same reason, or even goes to the same place. Sometimes people come in the home page’s front door, but more often than not they’ll wander in from all over to various nooks and crannies in your site. Assume everything on your website is the first thing a person could see, so make sure it all looks great (no hiding things in the closet!)
Cut the lengthy speeches. Maybe some people want to know your corporate history, just like pizza connoisseurs who look up where the ingredients are grown, but others just want to cut straight to the order form. Break content up into easy digestible chunks on different pages, with a menu browsers can easily click through.
No matter what, make sure that whatever you want people to accomplish (pay for a shopping cart, fill in a contact form) is stupid easy. You know, as easy as picking up the phone and saying “I want a medium two topper.”
Do the Math
Take heart, we’re not talking about calculus. Instead, we’re talking about measuring success. You do want success, right? With the crowded online marketplace, depending on blind luck isn’t a great idea.
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about pizza (trust us, we never forget about pizza!) Successful joints work at creating a good product and good marketing. They run specials, and determine who cashed in. They find out who their customers are, then advertise where they’re likely to be. They listen, respond, and grow.
Likewise, a good website requires monitoring to determine what works and what doesn’t. With web analytics tools, you can see how many people come to your site from different places on the web and what content is attracting the most visitors. This data should inform how you update and improve your website. Best of all? Google Analytics is one of the leading services, and it’s free to use.
A Team Effort
Pizzerias come in all sizes, styles, and flavors, from hole-in-the-wall hangouts to large brands you’ll find all over the world. All of them require a good team to operate smoothly: wait staff, cooks, drivers. Without any one job, the delivery doesn’t happen.
As a small business you’ve got limited time and resources. Maybe you want to be like the indie bistro that keeps up with the latest trends and manages everything, or maybe you’d be happy for some experienced help. That’s when you can turn to a firm that specializes in helping clients just like you. Building a website and growing it long-term can be much easier when you’ve got someone to turn to for guidance, whether that’s in design or search engine growth.
Making you online business portal succeed is a challenge, but the results can be oh so tasty. Let us know if you have any questions about web development in the comments, or contact us for more assistance.