Having a professional, all-inclusive website is an important marketing tool for every business. But getting started can seem intimidating for those who have never had their own website before. With today’s technologies, its actually pretty simple to get started, here I share my top tips to help you on the path.
Choose a platform
The first thing you need to do is choose what website platform to build your website on. There are a lot of different CMS (content management systems) to choose from and choosing the right platform is top priority. You don’t want to start building your site on a CMS platform to find out that it’s totally wrong for you and your site.
Some platforms require you to know a little bit of HTML / CSS or other coding languages, so you really need to decide where you are at in terms of website building ability. If you are a beginner then you would be best to choose WordPress.
Building your our own fully functioning and nicely designed website isn’t rocket science. It’s actually quite easy and straight forward once you get started.
Choose a domain name
Thinking of a good domain name for your website can be the toughest thing about building your own website. If you already have an established business, or know what you want to call your business, then that’s half the battle – obviously you are going to go with its name!
The main things to consider when deciding are:
- Be Unique – Be distinctive, otherwise it could mean your website falls flat before its even started. Don’t buy a name that will be confused with another website. Never buy a domain that is simply the plural, hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain.
- What Keywords? – Think of about 10 keywords or terms that describe your website in the best way possible. When you have a good selection of them you can then start to put them together, mix them up, add prefixes & suffixes to create some really unique and outstanding domain name ideas.
- Keep it simple – Although people tend to find your site through a branded search in Google, it’s still important to make your domain easy to spell / type out. Keep your domain name snappy and memorable. You don’t want to have an amazing website that no one can ever remember to tell their friends about because they can’t remember the name of the site! Hyphens and numbers are a nightmare, it makes it really difficult to give your domain name verbally and it fails the easy to remember or type test.
Have a clear goal
Every business website is different because each one serves a different purpose. If you want your website to be a portal for people to buy products, you need to build it around that goal. If you want it to provide information and entice potential clients to call you, build it with that goal in mind.
Keep in mind, it’s not a static thing and even if you start off without online sales, for instance, it can be relatively easy to add that at a later date. Whether you write a blog initially or not, you should consider how you will eventually use your website. At some point you may decide that a blog will be a good way to generate interest, it’s also a great tie-in to other social media platforms you may use.
Organise your pages
At this stage, you need to start thinking about what your website will look like and how it will be used. This includes your logo and other visuals, and the menu selections you want to make available.
The starting point is certainly your menu. Organise your pages into logically named categories and use standard terms on your menu. There is always a home selection, but you get to choose what the main menu selections are and chose sub-menus off each of those main menu selections.
It’s important to think carefully about how you want to organise and structure the information on your website to give you the maximum flexibility. Even if you only end up with three main menu selections initially, it’s important to consider what you might add at a later date so that your initial design can accommodate it.
Since your home page is the most common entrance to your website, it should describe how customers will benefit from your content, products, or services. If visitors can’t quickly figure out what’s in it for them, they’ll click that back button and leave!
You should also create unique landing pages for specific topics. While you might want everyone to come through the home page of your website, that might not be the best strategy. A more targeted approach is to create landing pages that speak to specific subjects. If someone is looking for information on a specific product you sell, they should land on your page that is dedicated to that subject. Landing pages convert at a higher rate than home pages.
Create your content
Content can sometimes be the hardest part of your website. It needs to be compelling to visitors and convey the right kind of information at the right level so visitors actually read it instead of moving on to the next website. You should decide, at least in basic terms, what you want it to say. Even if you plan to hire someone to edit or polish it, you know the basic message of your company better than anyone else will.
Use should conversational English and avoid industry jargon. When you write text, think about it from an advertising perspective but remember, visitors don’t want to just hear spin. They expect honesty and transparency. They want all the facts so they can make an educated decision.
You should explain why your company is uniquely qualified to provide its products or services. Provide some details about your history and achievements. Include a photo if it’s relevant. Consider dedicating a page to testimonials or case studies from real people. These third-party endorsements hold weight as customers buy from companies they trust.
When writing any content I always advise to do it out on a word document first, there you can run a spellcheck and edit it easily – then just copy and paste onto the relevant page.
In addition to text, you also need images. Since you should have chosen a template (if you are using a CMS stystem like Word Press) with visual elements or background images that match your particular business, other images and graphics are generally used to supplement the text content or sometimes even replace it. Making the pages professional looking is particularly important as visual impact and appeal are a key part of any website.
Make sure people can contact you
Put your contact information in multiple places so it’s easy to find. It should always be just one click away. Don’t make visitors work too hard to reach you. You should have a dedicated “contact me” page, but also have it as a call to action on other pages.
Once your website is live, the process is far from over. You’ve made a fantastic first step, but a company’s website is never really complete. Add or change elements as your business grows and changes and make sure to adapt changes in things like SEO and mobile designs.
Remember, the best websites are customer-centric. They’re designed to provide the information visitors are looking for and to present it in an interesting, organised fashion. They let the customer see the real you, which in turn builds trust. They make it easy for visitors to complete whatever action they have in mind, whether it’s to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, or contact you for more details. To be effective, your website must deliver true value. Put your visitors’ needs and wants first as you create its content and you will soon start to see returns for your efforts!