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Is your website a successful shop window for your business?

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Photo: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

I’m sure you’ve heard websites compared to shop windows many times before. The metaphor dates back to when the internet was new and difficult to understand, but the sentiment still rings true for the web today. Potential clients are just as likely to make a snap decision about your business from a 10 second glance at your website, as they would walking down the high street.

If we take the ‘website is your shop window’ metaphor and apply it to the modern web, what could businesses learn from an industry that has a head-start spanning generations?

Here are 5 ways you can embrace the shop window metaphor;

1. Update often

A shop window showcasing the same stock every month can look static, stale and uninteresting. The same is true for the web, whether you sell online or not. It doesn’t even matter if a website looks great, for every new client with a positive first impression there are many repeat visitors with little reason to revisit it.

Fresh and interesting content shows you are a dynamic business with a lot to say, with the added benefit that Google rates frequently changing content highly when ranking sites in search engine results. It’s important that the content is good however, so…

2. Be timely and relevant

If you walked past a shop during the Olympics, Royal Wedding or even Valentines day, you’ll know what I mean. Shops have long mastered seasonal changes, from reinvented displays to limited time products and offers (see: Starbucks). A few websites adopt cosmetic seasonal twists, but what if you took it further and reacted to changes in your market such as new products or opportunities?

Ask yourself, when are your busy periods? What industry news is happening right now that you have an opinion on? Topical and current news gets high search volume and Google loves timely blog posts and content.

3. Be true to your market and values

Does your website truly reflect your business and industry today? There’s a reason why high-end boutiques look very different than pound shops, and it’s not always because of the budget. Some of the most successful websites today are very plain to look at, but they demonstrate a true understanding of visitors and their needs.

It’s easier than ever to build websites to compete visually with the very best, but is that what your audience is looking for? If you embrace your values, play to your strengths and stay honest, clients genuinely interested in what you offer will be more likely to stay and engage.

4. Be memorable

Most people over 30 will remember a film called Mannequin (1987) starring Kim Cattrall as a shop mannequin magically brought to life. Throughout the film, she helps an aspiring artist to construct memorable shop window displays (by 80’s standards!) turning around the fortunes of the business in the process. Not everyone has a magical mannequin, but with the web today it can be easier than ever to be memorable and stand out. Unlike printed literature, the web can change quickly and often. Don’t be afraid to try new things to stand out!

5. Make sure you’re discoverable

The most dynamic, timely and memorable window display will only attract customers if they are able to find it! Unless you’re fortunate enough to appear on Google’s first page, your website will also receive fewer clicks and enquiries if you rely on direct traffic alone.

A discovery strategy that includes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social activity and leverages partners for referral links, will help your business build an audience. Also, if you write good content regularly, Google will help people find you.

We build modern websites and implement and support content/marketing strategies for businesses. If you have any thoughts around your website, or if you’re looking to launch or relaunch a business, please get in touch and we’ll see how we can help.

Chris Burton

Coder & Co-Founder