6 Ways to Make Your Small Business Website Earn Its Keep - Page 2

By Carla Schroder
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Make It Mobile-Friendly

If you're using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Plone, or any of the other literally hundreds of CMSs, look for mobile-friendly plugins. For example, in WordPress you can use the Mobile theme switcher that automatically detects when a site visitor is using a mobile device, and then it automatically switches to your chosen mobile theme. WordPress has bazillions of mobile themes to choose from. And so do Joomla, Drupal, Plone, and most of the others.

Provide FAQs

Don't get grumpy because your site visitors keep asking the same questions -- they're talking to you and that's what you want. Put up a FAQ -- frequently-asked questions-- page, with answers of course, and keep it updated.

Site Accessibility

Do not forget our friends and neighbors with less-than-perfect bodies, and who do not see well, or hear well, who cannot read well, have a degree of color-blindness (ten percent of all men) or who have trouble using a keyboard or mouse. Accessibility technologies are still sadly far behind, but if you design your site with accessibility as a fundamental function, then updating it as new technologies emerge won't be so hard.

Again, a good CMS will make this easier. For example, Drupal has some accessibility modules. A wonderful comprehensive resource is the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

See Your Site as Your Customers See It

The number one piece of advice I always give my clients is take advantage of the feedback your customers and site visitors give you. It's funny how a lot of shops have customer forums and get all kinds of email from people, but don't pay attention to them.

People, this is madness. This stuff is dead easy, free, and pure gold. Chances are the negatives outweigh the positives, because people tend to communicate more when they're unhappy. But the idea here is not to worry about balance, but to investigate the negatives and do something about them.

I recommend a special Web form or email address for website feedback. I also recommend that you pay attention to all feedback for everything, regardless of how it arrives. Yes, I've had clients who actually ignored any customer communications that did not come through the appropriate channels. Do you want to be right, or do you want happy customers?

Enlist your far-flung friends and family in evaluating your website, and ask them to review it on whatever devices they Web-surf with -- smartphones, tablets, ancient laptops, shiny new desktop PCs, and with different Web browsers. You might even invite your customers to do this, and throw in some nice little gifts as incentive.

SEO Madness

The name of the game these days is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is not a big magic wand that will make you rich. But it is something you need to understand and implement. Start by reviewing the numerous good articles right here on Small Business Computing about SEO and online marketing.

Carla Schroder is the author of The Book of Audacity, Linux Cookbook, Linux Networking Cookbook,and hundreds of Linux how-to articles. She's the former managing editor of Linux Planet and Linux Today.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on July 18, 2012
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