No business is too small for a website. But creating and maintaining a website can be daunting: How do you know what to put on your website? What color should the buttons be? What does “SEO” mean? With so many questions, it can be difficult to focus on what matters. Andrew Niekamp, a website designer at Deluxe, clears up the confusion. He talks through some of the most important considerations when creating a website, such as finding what brings people to your business, developing the right content and slowing down to get it right.

Whether you have a website or are just beginning to build one, consider Niekamp’s advice to see if you’re on the right track. And if you want to dig even deeper, ask yourself these questions to measure what’s working and discover opportunities for improvement.

1. Does your website connect to your target customer?

Think about your target customer, and ask yourself:

  • When they visit your website for the first time, will they find the answer to their top question in one click or less?
  • If your target customer visits your website, will they know they’ve come to the right place to find what they’re looking for?
  • Imagine the personality of your business. Would your target customer get a feel for that personality from your website?
  • Imagine how you want customers to feel when they interact with your business. Does your website inspire those feelings?
  • If your target customer is researching your business alongside your competitors, will they understand what sets you apart from them?

If you answered mostly “yes,” then your website does a great job connecting to your target customer. Keep it up!

If you answered mostly “no,” try this exercise:

Perform the 5-second test 

When a new visitor comes to your website, they decide whether to stay or leave within five seconds. Are you making a good impression? Ask five to 10 people who have never visited your website to help you find the answer. Show them your website homepage. After five seconds, hide the screen or close the window. Then ask them what they remember seeing. Are they noticing the things you want them to remember? If not, consider making some changes to the most prominent areas of your website. Including a captivating professional photo on your homepage is a great start.

2. Does your website drive action?

Think about the most important task your target customer wants to accomplish when they come to your website, and ask yourself:

  • Can they complete that task in one click or less?
  • If a lot of visitors to your website performed the task above, would it support your primary business goal?
  • Will visitors’ experience on your website help them overcome the barriers that prevent them from visiting, hiring or buying something from your business?

If you answered mostly “yes,” then your website makes it easy to take action.

If you answered mostly “no,” try this exercise:

Make a list of customer questions

Think about the questions you constantly answer about your products, services or business. Addressing these common points of confusion may be the key to converting a casual website visitor into a new customer. In addition to including the answers in an FAQ section, provide this information on other relevant pages (Pricing, Products & Services, Menu, About Us, Directions, etc.) across your website.

3. Is your website up to date?

Scour the words, images, links and other content on your website, and ask yourself:

  • Are your business name, address and phone number accurate and consistent across your website?
  • Do the services, products and prices listed on your website match what you offer now?
  • Do you publish news, events, blog posts, seasonal promotions, special offers or other timely information on your website? If so, has the information been updated within the last two weeks?
  • Have you updated or refreshed the photos on your website within the last six months?
  • Are all the links on your website “live?” That is, have you ensured that all the hyperlinks visitors could click on your website will bring them to the right place?

If you answered mostly “yes,” then your site is up to date. Nice work!

If you answered mostly “no,” try this exercise:

Do a virtual spring cleaning 

Spend a few hours scouring every page of your website. Make a note of any pages that contain outdated information or dead links, and carve out time in the coming weeks to refresh the information. Your website is like your digital storefront: Customers want to see that it’s kept up and cared for. Outdated information makes your business feel less credible.

4. Is your website readable?

Read a few sentences from your website out loud, then ask yourself:

  • Is the phrasing simple, conversational, and free of jargon or hard-to-understand words?
  • Does your website use bullet points or headers to break up information into shorter chunks?
  • Do most sentences contain 20 words or fewer?
  • If your target customer is quickly scanning the page for a particular topic or keyword, can they easily find it?
  • Is there some space on the page that’s left blank? This is called “white space.” It gives the eye a place to rest and prevents your reader from feeling overwhelmed.

If you answered mostly “yes,” then your website is easy to read. Dr. Seuss would be proud!

If you answered mostly “no,” try this exercise:

Use Hemingway

You don’t need to be a poet to write copy that’s crisp, clear and compelling. Use the Hemingway App to improve the words on your webpages. Copy and paste the text from any problematic pages into The tool will highlight sentences that are difficult to read and provide quick fixes. Your goal is to make your website easy to understand for visitors who read at a seventh-grade reading level.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Pull up your website on your smartphone, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it easy to tap all the links and buttons?
  • Hold your phone at arm’s length. Is the text big enough to read?
  • Can you see the navigation without zooming in or out?
  • Do the images appear correctly?
  • Is the most important content appearing first on the page?
  • Do all the fancy features work? For example, can visitors view videos, use the map, fill out contact forms, tap to call the phone number and see your dinner menu?

If you answered mostly “yes,” then your website is mobile-friendly. You’re ahead of the game!

If you answered mostly “no,” try this exercise:

Re-evaluate your provider

If your website doesn’t automatically scale to fit small screens, your website provider may be to blame. Consider switching to a new platform that offers mobile-responsive design: This ensures your content looks great and functions perfectly on any device.

Creating and keeping up a professional website can feel overwhelming. But if you strip away all the bells and whistles, crafting a website that help visitors find what they’re looking for will do wonders for your business.

Get answers to all your website questions

Get all the secrets to an effective website when you download our free Guide to Websites eBook.

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