Creating a website for your business can seem like a daunting task.
But as one of the most important ways of reaching customers in today’s world, it may be the best thing you can do to take your business to the next level.
With the help of our useful tips, and a little bit of planning you will soon be well on your way.
It might be tempting to choose a web designer and just leave them to get on with it, but in doing so you are much more likely to end up with a glorified ‘about us’ page, rather than an interactive site which speaks directly to your customers.
No one knows your business better than you, so take the reins and don’t feel intimidated to drive the project forward.
Before you do anything you need to have a very clear idea about what you want your website to achieve and who it is aimed at.
To ensure you don’t miss any crucial steps, business website The Balance recommends you follow the simple P.L.A.N. acronym. The site explains that this stands for:
“Prepare – Identify your target audience, appropriate website tone, and goals.
Landscape – Think through how you would like your website to be able to function. More specifically, what features need to be on your site?
Aesthetics – The way your website looks and feels is just as important as what it can do. Think about what colours and images you want on your site and how your site compares to your competitors.
Navigation – It is important to plan how you want your audience directed through your website. By thinking through what pages you need and how they should be laid out, you will help ensure, early on, the good visitor experience.”
Keep in mind how your website works with your other marketing materials. Your final site should fit with your overall branding and marketing plan rather than standing alone.
At this point you should also think about whether there are any must have functions for your site. For example is email marketing important to your business and will you need to offer visitors the chance to pay online for your product or service? By identifying your must haves now you will save time later down the line.
Choosing a URL
If you are starting from scratch you will need to choose and buy a URL for your website. These are available from a number of companies online and can start from as little as £1 a year to purchase, depending on the name you choose. It goes without saying that your ideal URL should include your company name. Keep it short and avoid abbreviations. Don’t use numbers, dashes or symbols - your aim is to make it as easy for customers to use and remember as possible. Don’t forget to check copyrights to make sure your website isn’t infringing on someone else’s protected name.
Choosing a platform for your site
Although there are other ways to build a website, template sites are a popular option. It is worth shopping around as these sites offer a staggering number of options. If you are building a simple one-page website your requirements will be very different to a business which needs a site with multiple pages featuring maps, videos or online payments. Many will provide hosting for your site, too.
Template sites are usually super easy to use, and most of the features you need are built into the platform. Not all template sites are equal though! We like Wix, Weebly and Square Space.
An extremely popular option for creating a website is Wordpress. Wordpress is a content management system, and rather than everything being built in, you will need to purchase a theme and plug-ins etc to create the site. You will also need to pay for hosting. When designing a website Wordpress offers a lot more flexibility and control of the look and feel for the site, which is why it is a popular platform among web designers.
Wordpress requires more technical knowledge than a template site, but in the right hands the results can be fantastic.
Who should build the site?
Depending on how confident you feel, you may choose to take on this role yourself. The template sites mentioned above are all designed to be straight forward to navigate.
However, many people prefer to seek the help of a website designer and developer at this stage.
Small Business Geek’s Liz Smith explains: “It’s not really a question of working with a designer or a developer, as both skills are needed and not many people are both technically and creatively brilliant. That’s why at SBG we have a developer and designer working together to create sites which look good and deliver for our clients, too.
“When choosing who to work with to create your site, you should be looking for professionals who really want to understand what your business is about. Beware of anyone who doesn’t want to get under the skin of what you do, as the end result may be something which fails to meet your business needs.”
Making sure your website is secure is a top priority. Thousands of websites get hacked each day. And if you think this only affects big business think again.
Checking that you host your website in a safe place is a fundamental first step. Then there are a number of jobs such as backing up contents, running virus checking software and periodically changing your passwords which should be on your regular things to do list. If your site is built on Wordpress, the software will be regularly updated.
Although these back office tasks take a little time, they are vital to the success of your website.
Sprout Social has a great guide to how to keep your website safe.
At SBG we have specialists in web design, development, copy writing, marketing and optimising sites to help search engines find them. This wide range of services makes sure you will get a site that works for you. Our team care about producing a good quality site that will add value to your business.
If you are new to all of this you may need a helping hand when securing your URL or choosing which platform to use. And if you are building a site yourself we can provide the help and support you need, as and when you need it.
All of these services are offered as standalone options, or as a complete package, so get in touch to discuss how we can help you.
Continue to How to create a website which gets results | part 2 where SBG takes a closer look at website content, how search engines see your site and how you can measure the success of all your hard work.