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Your small business website is your online business card. These days, people take to the web to peruse what services are available and determine whether or not they want to do business with you based on your online presence. Your website oftentimes ends up being your introduction to potential clients who are seriously considering your products or services.

First question, do you even have a website? If not, creating one should be your next move. Remember however, that not all websites are created equally. There are great websites and there are also websites that drive people mad with too many pop ups, too much clutter, crappy navigation and all kinds of other annoyances. The latter is not the kind of website you want to build.

To create an awesome website, you’ll want to consider the following essential elements:

Choose a Platform that Can Grow with Your Business

Numerous tools are available that allow the DIY type to hunker down and create a website for themselves for example SquareSpace or Wix. Oftentimes those with an entrepreneurial heart will go down this path but quickly come to the realization that website builders are actually a lot harder to use than expected. Or they’ll find limitations as to what can be built, how many webpages they can publish and other technical aspects that are outside of their domain. Hence turning to professional web designers.

Whichever root you decide to take, be sure to do your research and choose a platform and web developer that can build a website that is scalable and can grow with your business. Especially for those who need a website with an ecommerce component or increased functionality beyond just posting a blog --- seeking professional help instead of wasting your time building something that is not fully customizable will save your sanity and your wallet.

High Quality Photography

Your website must have stellar, high quality imagery if you want to project a professional appearance and have your website visitors take your business seriously. Pixelated and unclear images are unacceptable. High quality photography not only captures the attention of website visitors but it also sets the tone for what kind of business you are. Whether you go the stock photography root (try and stay away from uber cheesy photos though please) or take photos yourself, be sure that whatever visuals you choose for your website are pleasing to the eye.

Simplicity is Key

When it comes to designing a website remember that simplicity is your best friend. Users should be able to easily navigate to the information that they seek without having to jump through hurdles to find it. Too many choices can cause your website visitors to make no choice at all. Whether its too many images, too many calls to action or too many words, too much of anything that competes for your users’ attention will give them a headache. Rather than focusing on any one thing, if there is too much clutter on your website, users will get distracted and irritated. Too much chocolate will make you sick. Too much bacon will make you ill. You get it. Even great and wonderful things can be overdone.

Make Contact Info Easy to Access

You want your website visitors to take action and contact you. That means having this info easily accessible. Your phone number should be prominent and clickable so that if your mobile web visitors are trying to give you a call they can do so with a simple tap. Same goes with your location info – a map or a link to a map that can lead your website visitors to your storefront location is a must have.

Track Your Metrics

Once you do have a website live on the web, it’s important to review how it’s performing. Google Analytics is totally free and offers you a detailed view of what pages get the most traffic, how much time people are spending looking at specific pages on your site, where your traffic is coming from and other valuable insights. Using this data, you can then optimize your website pages by creating calls to action on those pages that perform best – enticing your website visitors to sign up for your newsletter or contact you. For those web pages that don’t do well and have high bounce rates (i.e. when visitors bounce away from your website because something on the page isn’t working), you can revisit those underwhelming webpages and tweak them as needed so they keep visitors from leaving your website.

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Located in Calgary, Alberta, Blue Ocean Interactive Marketing creates online marketing strategies that enable your business to grow.

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