The First Impression Checklist: 25 Standards That Your Website Should Meet

September 15, 2014

The old adage that you have just a few seconds to make a great impression applies to websites, too. Here’s a list of 25 tests that a small business website should meet to create a fabulous first impression, inspire trust, and generate more business for your company:

  1. Is professionally designed with crisp images and a professional logo. It’s all about credibility, baby! How your site looks is the first thing people notice.
  2. Has an About page that identifies the company behind the business (not just a domain name, but real company name).
  3. Contains logical navigation to help people find important parts of the site in a single click or two.
  4. Identifies the company leadership and some team members. Remember, people buy from people, not just from businesses. Identifying human beings inspires trust.
  5. Includes testimonials from real customers. Are the testimonials detailed enough that prospects can tell the kinds of customers and industries served, and in general how you helped them?
  6. Lists your location(s), hours of operation, phone number, map, and directions. This is crucial for brick-and-mortar businesses.
  7. Has at least one call to action. This could be a box to sign up for your email mailing list. Or for B2B businesses, it could be a lead capture form that someone fills out in exchange for a free content download. In other words, you want to create a connection with a visitor so you can stay in touch.
  8. Contains a security seal to tell visitors your website is secure. This is important not just for e-commerce sites, but every site today.
  9. Contains a section or page listing services and/or products. This section has to be easy to get to.
  10. For e-commerce sites, payment options and return policies are easy to find before checking out. For example, can I pay with PayPal as well as credit cards? Will I be stuck with the product if I buy it, or can I return it without paying a restocking fee?
  11. Lists prices for most products or services, or at least gives a range. This can be a controversial point, but more sales have been lost, in my experience, from not listing prices than by listing them. Today people want to research as much as possible online, and if they have to wait for days to get pricing information, they might have already purchased from a competitor by the time you contact them.
  12. Has a way to contact the company for customer support, either via an online form, an email address, live chat, or a phone number (or some combination thereof).
  13. Contains FAQs and/or a knowledge base for more information about the company, its products and services, installation instructions, and troubleshooting common issues.
  14. Has an easy-to-find search box and a good search function.
  15. Displays social media icons linking to your Twitter profile, Facebook page, and so on. And have you tested those icons to make sure the links actually work?
  16. Identifies industry organizations the company or its leadership belong to. This gives credibility because it signals you are committed to your industry.
  17. Links out to media coverage, awards, third-party reviews, and anything else validating your company or its offerings.
  18. Has a press section, including links to all press releases your company has issued. Also contains images and video for media and bloggers to use when writing about your company.
  19. Articulates your unique selling proposition and differentiation – that is, why a buyer should choose your company over a competitor.
  20. Compares your offerings to help the buyer choose which one is right.
  21. Contains terms and a privacy policy. As a visitor I want to know if I give you my information that you will take confidentiality obligations seriously.
  22. Has a company blog. Every business can benefit from a blog for announcements as well as a marketing resource.
  23. Prominently links the website and the company blog. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found no obvious way to click from the blog to the main website, or vice versa. Too many companies maroon the visitor.
  24. Tells the company story and history. Every business needs a story to make it memorable and set it apart.
  25. And of course, don’t neglect the technical side. Make sure your site can be used by visitors on mobile devices, and that site speed is acceptable.

Finally, you may have other requirements for your Web presence based on your particular business or industry. Use the above checklist as an idea starter, and customize it for your business.

This article originally appeared on

Here’s a list of 25 tests that a small business website should meet to create a fabulous first impression, inspire trust, and generate more business for your company.

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