Redoing your business website? Make sure you follow these 8 steps
When it comes to building a new business website that will add to the success of your small business there is really only one place to start.
Whilst slick design, eye-popping imagery and user-friendliness are all important features of a business website – the first thing you need to nail is an in-depth knowledge of your target market.
Obvious as this may sound, way too many websites fail to deliver because they are simply functioning as an ‘online face’ of the business rather than leveraging the internet to address its core aims and customer’s needs.
It’s easy to get excited about the style you want for your business website but don’t forget that it will probably be your strongest marketing tool and, for many, the primary point of sale.
Follow these steps to make sure your business website is working hard for your business:
1. Stay focused
Before hiring a web designer make sure you have a clear notion of what you want. Ask yourself what your business is lacking and how a new website can provide it.
"Many websites fail to deliver because they are simply functioning as the ‘online face’ of the business rather than leveraging the internet to address its core aims and customer’s needs."
A good website can boost sales and conversion rates, create more leads, shrink overheads and seriously improve your brand awareness. Be sure to ask your designer how this is achievable and what they recommend for your particular business and its customers.
Heading to a design agency with only a list of your favourite colours and fonts isn’t going to help anyone.
2. Address your target audience
Whatever type of business you run, you will have a select customer base. Before making decisions on the design and content of your new website, be sure to research their tastes and how they tend to consume and behave online.
Trying to appeal to every type of visitor will only mean you lose custom in the long-term.
If your company caters to a younger consumer, ask for bright colours, super-responsive design and edgy images and content. A more mature audience will be more amenable to a conservative lay-out and basic navigation.
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Think about your product: if it is purely functional then keep your website simple and practical. Visitors to online tool suppliers (for example) aren’t going to be looking for the latest trends in web-design!
Find out how many of your customers might use mobile devices to access your site. If most of your consumer demographic are likely to use phones or tablets, it will be worthwhile building a mobile version of your site or an app.
3. Know your SEO
Most small businesses are unable to afford to employ a full-time SEO expert but you will need to familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of ‘search engine optimisation’ if you want your website to have a strong online presence.
When employed correctly, SEO is a hugely beneficial marketing tool and can significantly increase the click-through rate to your website.
Take a look at sites like Moz.com and Search Engine Land for inspiration.
4. Make it easy
One of the most common mistakes in website building is over-complicating things. Today’s consumers expect quick and easy navigation.
When designing your homepage, ensure it’s clear what your business does and what it is selling. All relevant information should be displayed coherently and not broken up into separate pages unnecessarily.
New visitors to your site won’t stick around if they are caught up in confusing navigation.
Also, make sure you keep up site maintenance; dead links and old content will be instantly off-putting. Similarly, an over-embellished site that takes ages to load will ensure customers will head elsewhere.
5. Call to action
Every page of your website should have a clear ‘call to action’. This simply means a button that can be clicked to take a customer one step closer to employing your service or making a purchase.
Whatever the call to action – be it signing up to a weekly newsletter or a link to sales products – it’s vitally important to explain why a customer should click.
A button that simply says ‘Sale’ will have a poor click rate compared to one which says ‘Click here for 50% off.’ In the same way, an invitation to ‘Sign up to our newsletter’ needs more of an incentive attached: ‘Sign up to our newsletter and get weekly special offers!’
6. Don’t be afraid to imitate
Yours will not be the only business of its kind and most of your competitors will have websites.
Before you start designing your own website, look to see what other similar businesses are doing. Pretend to be a customer and take a note of what you like and what seems to work well.
A little appropriation will do no harm, as long as the end result has your unique stamp on it.
7. Stay fresh
Customer retention should be a key aim of your website and one thing that will lure consumers back time after time is the promise of fresh content.
Regular updates on your products and services, news and blog posts are all ways to keep your image fresh and attractive. And be sure to update your social media posts on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Stagnant content gives an instant impression of sloppiness and that’s not going to inspire customers to spend on your site.
8. Respect your web designer
Last but not least, listen to what your web designer has to say. After all, you are paying for their expertise.
If you are too rigid in your ideas for your website, you could miss out on valuable initiatives that would suit your particular target market.
Be prepared to adjust your vision if necessary – an open minded approach to web design will give you an end-product that not only meets your requirements, but exceeds them.
Are you planning a business website re-design soon?
Have you found the above helpful?