If you own or help to run a business in the modern age, chances are that you will already have a website to showcase your services or products.
If your site is already up and running, our resources on eCommerce, SEO and analytics can help you to optimise and improve it. If you haven’t got a website yet, read on!
We’ll take you through your options with our top tips and advice in this article. If you need guidance on getting started, how to go about purchasing a domain, and what type of content you shouldn’t forget to include, read on…
Getting Started - Web Tools vs. Developers
Building a website all by yourself from scratch is a daunting task, and can be difficult to achieve alone without having prior experience. So, what are your options?
- You could hire a web developer to build your website - searching for local developers or web agencies in your area is a good place to start, but be warned - this could cost thousands of pounds to initially set up, and there may be ongoing maintenance or hosting costs.
- Alternatively, you could use a web building service or platform which will help you to build templated websites which fit your needs.
Here is our comparison of some popular web tools.
A domain name is simply the name and address of your website. For example, ours is ‘www.bgateway.com’.
To purchase a domain name for your business, you can go through a domain registrar, such as Hover and Namecheap. You will pay a subscription fee to these companies for the domain name, and will have to renew this upon expiry. Ensuring you keep your payment details up to date with the domain registrar will mean a smooth renewal process and no chance of anyone grabbing your domain!
It is important to keep your domain name as close as possible to your company name. Ideally, the naming should be the same across your social media channels and website.
This handy top tips blog post from domain company GoDaddy will give you food for thought about how to select the domain name that's going to work best for your business.
With cyber security and data protection more important than ever, having your website certified as secure will help to not only protect it, but also build customer trust.
Having a secure certificate for your website means the padlock icon will show to visitors who are browsing your website. If you are using a platform or agency to build your website, you should check that they will provide a certificate for you.
If you use a website building software such as Squarespace, you will automatically gain secure creditation - although double check that this is provided as part of the service you are using.
Content to Include
Let your website’s content be driven by the needs of your users.
First, think about these two simple questions which a new user might ask themselves when they arrive on your site.
- What are you (the service provider) offering to the consumer?
- Why should the consumer choose your business? Namely, what benefit does your business offer over your competitors?
Make sure that by coming to your website, your visitors are able to learn the answers to these. Building content which addresses these two key questions will help to persuade new customers that they should choose your business.
For instance - if the website belongs to a tour bus company, it might include some photography or video content showing some of the sights people can expect to see on their tours, and then have a page talking about what is included in the tour.
Consider the other reasons that might bring a visitor to your website. For example - if you run a shop with physical premises, users might come to your website to find out more before they visit. This could include information about your opening hours, your prices, or they might want to know if they can buy your products online.
Most importantly, keep your page content short and to the point! Unless you are writing articles, content should be easily skimmed.
Other Content to Include...
About Us/ Our Story - This section is your opportunity to let your audience know how the business started, who is behind it and what your vision is. This is a great opportunity for small independent businesses to forge a connection with their audience.
Contact Us - Give all of your details here - opening times, address (Google Map widget is a plus), telephone and email address. You could also include a form here.
FAQs - This is a great way to give the audience the quick answers they are searching for.
Gallery - For hospitality businesses, why not include some high quality images of what customers should expect to see and experience when visiting your business? 5-10 images is a great amount to include - this will set their expectations and allow you to showcase your service.
Testimonials - Including reviews from past customers (or before/after photos) will help to build confidence in your business for new customers.
Booking - A booking form is a great way to streamline operations. This is usually a ‘plug-in’ service, and customers with hectic lifestyles will appreciate being able to book on site, without having to email or pick up the phone.
Tariffs/ Prices - This can help to demystify costs of your product or service, although if you offer a bespoke product, you could put a 'Request a Quote' form here.
The higher the quality of photography you can offer, the more likely a potential customer is likely to want to visit, buy or use your service. Likewise, the quality of writing is really important - be concise but use your website as an opportunity to really sell yourself and tell the audience why they should consider becoming a customer.
Linking to Social Channels
This is very important if you are active on your business’s social media channels, as it gives you the opportunity to acquire new followers and show the audience recent updates and goings-on in your business.
- Only include your main channels - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a good place to start.
- A common mistake here is to link to Facebook.com and NOT to Facebook.com/yourbusinessprofile.
- Make sure you test the links yourself. Often website owners forget to do so, and as a result the links can either be broken, or direct to the wrong page.
And finally, some do's and don'ts to keep in mind…
- Test what your website looks like on your mobile phone.
- Keep the copy short - cut out any unnecessary words. On mobile, pages with less text are easier to digest.
- Unless you are writing an article, content should be easily skimmed.
- If you are writing articles, include a descriptive title, a summary of the article, reading time, and use section headers throughout.
- Don’t be afraid of writing long-form articles! If you have some nuance to convey, that’s fine - just don’t spend a paragraph saying something that can be conveyed in a sentence.
- Within articles, if you refer to another part of the website, or to another product/service, include a link to it.
- Put in a Google Map so users can navigate to you easily: (instructions here).
- Update your website address on your Google Business listing, social channels, and anywhere else it might appear such as Trip Advisor.
- Autoplay videos on your site, always give the user the power to click start.
- Go crazy with coloured text on coloured backgrounds, and crazy fonts - if it’s not easy to read, users will simply leave your site.
- Use carousels (don’t use them) - Although they may seem like a great place to put a lot of images or a longer message - statistics show that only 1% of users ever interact with them. Instead, show the content on its own page; users scroll down - take advantage of that.
We hope that this guide will give you a comprehensive overview of the first steps into getting your own website for your business - in this day and age, it’s extremely important to be discoverable online to your current and future customers.
Want to know more? Why not sign up for a DigitalBoost webinar to learn more digital business skills.