We’ve all been there. You hear about a great restaurant/store/online business that has a new, exciting product or idea. You go to visit their website, hoping to see what the company is all about. You arrive at their URL. You start clicking around only to find little information, blank web pages, and no real purpose to the site. This can be very disappointing to a consumer.

In the new era of social media, sometimes companies (small businesses in particular) can find themselves relying more heavily on a Facebook presence and not cultivating a great website. While Facebook is free and easy to update, businesses should not forgo a website just because they have a useful Facebook page. Many consumers still prefer the “one-stop shop” of an actual website.

Here are some tips on important things to include in great, customer-oriented website:

Basic identifying information. This may go without saying, but it’s surprising how often businesses leave the most basic information off of the front page of their site. Some important info to have would be the name of the business, the physical location (if applicable) the hours of operation, and concrete contact information (lots of companies choose to use the “Contact Us” form, but an actual name to call or e-mail is much more personable). Some additional information that can be helpful to have on the very first page of a business site would be a blurb about what exactly the company does, and even the name of the CEO or top management. This way, consumers have a way to identify with the business.

Serves a purpose. A basic website that gives out company information, location, etc. is a huge step in the right direction. However, to keep customers coming back to your site, it must serve a purpose to your consumer base. For example, a site for a restaurant could have the ability to make reservations right on the web. Some restaurants have even added the ability to place an order online. For a clothing store, it’s ideal to be able to order online. Even something as simple as a short game, a request form (for new products, etc.), or a virtual suggestion box are all good to keep people coming back to the site again and again.

Great design. Simply put, a website should be pretty to look at! Most consumers who are savvy enough to seek out a company website are also savvy enough to know when little to no time was spent on the design. You know that old saying about eating with your eyes first? This is absolutely applicable to web pages. Customers are likely to spend less time on a site that isn’t visually stimulating. If you don’t want to hire an actual web designer, there are many free programs available online that can help novices design an aesthetically pleasing website.

Having a website with these qualities will no doubt increase your customer base. It’s also a great way to get a new business established. A strong online presence will help draw new eyes to your product or service. This is especially beneficial to small businesses that are trying to get off the ground!