Having a website for your business is a great way to build credibility and widen your reach. It helps you connect with your customers, keep them updated on your progress and bring in business 24/7.
A website is an important building block of your marketing plan and all businesses (established or start-up) should have one. Where in the past your business card was essential, now your website is a must-have. Your website (or the lack of one) makes a first impression on potential customers. A good site that showcases your work is an advertisement for your brand, and it pitches your service or product for you, saving time and drawing in customers. Thanks to the pandemic, more people than ever are looking for products and services online rather than visiting stores.
- Buy a domain and choose a host server
A domain name is also called a URL or a web address. You can approach a company to register a domain name for you. You will need to look through an online registry to see if the domain name you want is available. If it has already been taken, you will have to tweak yours.
Your website will be stored on a server, this is called the host. If the company that your domain is registered with is not offering a hosting service, you can find another company to do so. You will have to pay an annual fee to your host. The host company should also be able to offer you add-ons to protect your site from common malware attacks and may even be able to give you website template options.
- Decide on a template (but avoid the template trap)
There are several pre-designed website templates that you can choose from or you could have the entire website custom designed. Pre-designed templates make the process quicker, you just have to add your photos and content. A developer could make the few tweaks you want to a pre-existing design.
What is the template trap?
Falling into the template trap is expecting your finished website to look exactly like the sample did. It is not likely to look exactly like the sample unless you add the same quality of photos or your text blocks and fonts are the same size as the example. So, pick a template based on whether the layout works for your brand, not thinking it’s going to be exactly the same.
- Have a logo designed
Visitors will look for your logo to identify your brand in the future. It’s also a way of authenticating your products or services. The colours and typeface of your logo need to not only suit your brand but also be in line with the rest of your website. You can have one designed by a graphic designer or make one yourself using a product such as Canva.com.
- Write out content
Add in content to the different pages of your website, making sure your messaging is on brand. You can use writing exercises like word clouds to help focus the language. Check out your competitors’ sites to figure out a way to set yours apart from the rest.
The basic key pages that your site needs include:
- About Us
- Product and Services
- Contact Details
People don’t like to read text-heavy pages so keep your content crisp. Many people just skim through the headings so ensure they’re descriptive and give the reader a gist of what you do even at a fleeting glance.
- Test and publish
See how well your site works from different devices – phones, PCs, laptops, and iPads. Send it to friends and family of different age groups who have different comfort levels with technology. Their feedback will help you create something that works for everybody. Once your edits are made, publish the site.
You can then promote it in any way you can – add it to your social media channels, local directories, email it to your contact list and any other way you think of.
Push your website to give visitors more value
Your website is more than just a sales pitch, it’s a reflection of what you want your brand to be known for. Think about what your target group could be struggling with. If you can, provide articles, helpful tips and tricks and FAQs. This provides more value, gives your customers answers, and helps you build rapport with them. It also gives your customers an understanding of what your brand is like.
What are the markers of a high-quality website?
- Professional and trustworthy: Your website is the first impression your brand will make, so invest in good quality photographs and content. If you have a small budget then start with fewer pages, quality speaks volumes. Trust is established with the people behind the brand so write out an ‘About Us’ page that tells your story well and can connect with visitors.
- Showcase testimonials: Ask your customers to leave reviews and put them up on your website. This makes a big difference in the way visitors perceive your business. It also helps build trust with new customers.
- Up-to-date: Always keep your site updated. When visitors see old promos and information that’s out of date, it gives them the impression that you don’t care.
- Relevant content: Your website should be designed to appeal to your target audience. Include relevant information and features. As soon as they’re on your site, they should feel at home.
- Easy to find and use: Your site needs to show up when local residents search for your company. Search Engine Optimisation helps with this.
But all of this will not bring money in unless your website is simple to navigate and secure so that customers are not worried about carrying out transactions through it. Make sure you have an SSL certificate, there’s no spammy feel, and your content has no spelling or grammatical errors.