By Vilie Farah
A retail Web site is easy to imagine, loaded with images of products and prices and sometimes even a shopping cart for online purchases. But the service Web site is trickier. How can your Web site communicate all of the great things about your company when you sell a service, not a product?
Here are some tips for creating a Web site that really sells your services:
1. Show the Service
Images make an impact on the Web. If you don't have a glossy product shot, show someone performing the service you provide. If you're an auto mechanic, show someone working on a car. Real estate agent? Use a photo of an agent showing a house. And an attorney or law firm could use an image of a lawyer consulting a client.
Using images guarantees that users recognize immediately what the Web site is all about.
2. Make it Easy to Get Around
Web site navigation should be intuitive, straightforward and hierarchically structured. You don't want your visitors to have trouble finding the information they need to do business with you. Think of the major players in your industry and visit their Web site for ideas on how to structure yours.
3. Highlight Your Competitive Advantage
No matter what business you're in, you need to communicate your unique selling point to clients. A good service-oriented Web site should explain what the service it offers is and how that service is better than the competition. Users should know immediately why they need to use your services rather than another company's. Get this information on your home page, and consider including a page listing reasons to do business with you.
Respect your visitors' time and get right to the point. If visitors have to think to figure out who you are or what your main benefits are, they'll click away to the competition. People don't like to spend long periods of time reading online. Make your Web site the easiest one with the simplest navigation and all the necessary information up front, and you'll reap the rewards.
5. Clearly State Your Purpose on Every Page
Your company's purpose should be visible everywhere, not solely on the home page. Provide links, visuals and headlines that help users understand what your company does. Remember, not everyone will enter your Web site through the home page.
6. Include a Contact Form
Make it easy to get in touch with you. A contact form allows users to ask questions and request more information right from the Web site. In addition to your phone and email, it's a great way to make sure all your visitors can contact you in the way they're most comfortable.
7. Consider a Customer Support Center
Depending on your business, you may want to offer a self-help section on your Web site. Include a Frequently Asked Questions page and offer ways for clients to get in touch with your support team.
8. Answer Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to reduce your call volume, try adding a list of frequently asked questions and answers to your Web site.
9. Offer User Accounts
If your Web site gets multiple uses and a high volume of return visitors, you might consider a registration form and the provision of user accounts. Having an account will enable users receive newsletters from you, tips, promotions and marketing materials about your services.
10. Service extension
As your Web site grows, consider additional features. If the service you offer is marketing advice, for example, you could consider adding new features and extending the service to include Web marketing, real-time online consultations and strategy drafting. Having an expert available to get involved in virtual communication with your customers is always a plus.
About the Author
Vilie Farah is an SEO professional with five years of experience in the sphere. She has been a team leader in designing and creating various Web sites and Internet portals. Her main area of experience is content provision and optimization.