One of the things I love doing is talking with business owners about what they want their website to do.

There are so many different things a website CAN do. And yet the biggest benefits will often come from figuring out what are the most important things, and then making sure that the website does those things well.

There are a few broad classifications for business websites that can be useful to help get clear on what is most important:

  • Online Store: Your website is selling something
  • Lead Generation: Your website is encouraging people to make an enquiry
  • Referral Validation: Your website is being used to validate whether to do business with your company

For a lot of businesses, the referral validation process is extremely important. When someone refers your business, you have a chance to let your prospective client know enough about you so they take the next step. In contrast to lead generation websites or online stores (where your prospective client may not know anything about your), if you have been referred by someone, your prospective client has a few clues about you already. A simple and effective website that makes clear what you do, shows proof that you know what you are doing, and makes it easy to get in touch with you … well, that can mean the referral turns into a new client a lot more consistently.

So if your website needs to help when it comes to referral validation, don’t get held back from launching because you feel you don’t have enough material. Or haven’t thought about every possible thing your website COULD do. Start simple, and make sure your website does what is needed to help you get the call (or email) from a newly referred client.

I was prompted to write this post from yet another beautifully simple post from Seth Godin (who after many years remains my absolute favourite writer about running a business on the web).  Seth talks about Being Found vs Being Sought. If you have been successful in creating a business that allowing you to be referred (which is one way of being sought after, think carefully about the role your website plays in validating that referral.