Recently on the chat forum I moderate we were asked about a website relating to work being provided for VAs. I’d made comment about the lack of contact information, amongst other things, after I’d visited the site in question. I thought the following information would be useful for all VAs – both with a view to having their own website and also in relation to looking at other sites when thinking about connecting with the business operators of that site in some way.
Credibility is an important aspect of owning and operating a website as well as operating a business, so this information may assist many of you. I’ve been reading up on stuff like this so thought it would be good to do a ‘recap’ on what I’ve been reading.
Developing Website Credibility
- Display Contact Information – more than one form of contact should be readily available and visible
- Develop a branding with logos and/or business name – over time people will get to know your branding
- Use images or photos that look professional and not ‘home made’
- Have a site that looks professional – get help with it if need be
How easy is it for visitors to contact you? Do you have contact information readily available? Is it more than an email address? If you have no other contact information available, i.e. a phone number, or a fax number or address (postal or physical) then people are unlikely to do business with you – they need to feel comfortable about your existence. I’ve read that a physical address should be showing, but personally I don’t agree with this and feel that a postal box address should also be ok. After all, who wants to advertise their home address on the web? If someone wants to track you down at home, they will, but let’s not make it easy for them.
You should not be using a free email address such as yahoo or hotmail to advertise for your business. I always view emails from these type of addresses warily, and if I respond, am rarely surprised if they bounce back.
For clients to feel confident you are a REAL business, they want to know:
- Your name – who you are
- Your phone number – which helps verify your locality in most cases, and your existence – please make sure there is voicemail or an answer machine attached for people to leave a message if you don’t answer – and make sure you return their calls
- A business email address – preferably your domain. I can’t understand why people don’t use their domain address for their email if they have a domain – and let’s face it, they’re not expensive to buy these days.
- An address to post items to or visit for an appointment if a physical address is provided.
I know that many new VAs might be nervous about putting their information on the web but the reality is if you have the information available on your business cards, on your letterhead, in Yellow Pages advertising or other forms of advertising, then it also needs to be on your website. Not having it on the web won’t stop people trying to find you if they really wanted to, but why put prospective customers off by not making it easy for them to contact you? Some people are not comfortable with email and would prefer to pick up the phone instead.
It is important that people view your business as a real one and realistically they should be able to find your contact information within one click of visiting your website. You could have it showing on every page but you don’t have to have your personal name showing everywhere – perhaps just on the ‘About Us’ page. You could set up a contact page also using a form if you prefer.
If you have a logo use it on everything, but if not, make your business name (or personal name) your branding and your logo. Perhaps by consistently using the same font and format with a particular colour or colours.
Don’t try to create your own logo if you don’t have the expertise – outsource it. And royalty free professional images and photos can easily be sourced online from sites like www.istockphoto.com or www.gettyimages.com.
Seek help in putting together your website if you find it beyond your current capabilities – you can learn how to maintain it over time, but don’t use programs such as Publisher or PowerPoint to produce your website – it smacks of being ‘home made’ and does not look professional.
Finally, assure people that if you collect contact information from visitors, that their information is not used for other purposes and not sold or given away for other lists.
Hope this is of help. KMT