Do you have a small business or home business? Do you have a website? Those questions are pretty easy to answer, but this third one might not be … Is your website working for you?

If it isn’t – or if you’re not sure – then you need to take action. Here are three steps to help you make massive improvements to your small business’s website:

Step 1: Watch Someone Use Your Website

Invite a friend over, someone who’s never used your website before. Try to find someone who will be about as web-savvy as your target audience. For example, if you sell second-hand computer equipment, your audience will probably be quite competent and knowledgeable.

Sit your friend in front of the computer and open up the site. Tell them to simply navigate around the site for a few minutes. As they’re doing so, make a note of:

What seems to catch their eye?
Is there anything that they get confused by?
Do they quickly click a link and end up off your site altogether?
After a few minutes have gone by, ask them to stop and give them some questions:

  • What did you think the site was about when you first saw it?
  • What do you think now?
  • Do you understand what I’m selling?
  • What would make you more inclined to buy it?
  • Did anything on the site confuse you?

Step 2: Get a Professional Critique
Make any changes which you decide on after asking a friend or two to look through your site. Then, if you can afford it, get a professional website critique. There are a number of people and organisations who offer this: I recommend the Men with Pens, who regularly provide “drive-by” critiques on their blog.

Before paying for a critique, ask to see testimonials from previous customers and samples of previous critiques. Don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest option available – poor-quality information could end up making your site worse.

Step 3: Think From Your Client’s Perspective

Take a look at your website with fresh eyes. Try to see it in the way that a potential client would. Ask yourself whether it would make you want to buy.

Are your services and products clearly explained? Do you have an FAQ page that lays any niggles or doubts to rest, to prevent the prospect from putting off buying? Is there an enticing sale or special offer running? Are your contact details clearly available – including your phone number? (You’ll usually find that people don’t phone, but it makes them more confident to see that you’ve made this available – they know you’re not some fly-by-night company.)

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