Creating a website can be daunting and you may feel like you don’t know where to start. The good news is, with the right help and the right tools, building a website is a very manageable process. Here is a checklist for you to start.
Having a bespoke website will help to build your brand and create a professional image. It also allows you to have control over exactly what you show to customers, instead of making do with the limited functionality of a Facebook business page. There are many different website builders available, which require different levels of skill to use.
Website builders like WordPress and Squarespace also offer great functionality and customizability with plug-ins, built-in website analytics, integrated blogs and online support.
Registering a unique domain name is really important when it comes to how your business is perceived. This is your URL or web address, which is what people will enter in their browser to visit your site. Domain names are often fairly inexpensive, depending on what the URL is and which top-level domain (TLD) you choose.
Your domain name should ideally be your business name (www.companyname.com), but you might find that certain URLs are already taken. You can try to get around this by adding your service or sector to the URL (www.companynamedigital.com), or breaking up words with hyphens (www.company-name.com). Whatever you do, your domain name should be something obvious, easy to remember, and easy to spell.
Web hosting companies store the files that make up your website on their server, where they are accessed by online visitors. Different hosting services offer varying amounts of data transfer limits, cloud storage, email accounts and other features, as well as different prices and commitment periods. You will have to take these options into account when choosing who to host your website with.
A header and logo form the basis of your website’s branding and personality. They allow visitors to identify which site they are on and what to expect from it. Branding is incredibly important, especially on the internet, which is a highly visual medium. If you look at a few different websites, you’ll see that they often have a similar design layout, with a bold header and the company logo, usually positioned in the top left of the header.
This often consists of a horizontal navigation bar with main headings that users can click on or hover over to see subheadings. Where necessary, these subheadings branch out even further. The main pages such as home, products or services are usually on the left side of the navigation, with blog, contact and about pages on the right.
Visitors to your website and prospective customers need to be able to contact you easily. This could be to ask a question, to request a quote, or to be able to physically visit your business. As well as having a contact page that provides the full details of how to get in touch with the business, many websites also include the address, phone number and contact email on every page of the website, usually in the footer. This makes it really easy for people to find the information, no matter what stage of the sales journey they are at.
A store locator page usually has a map showing where all the stores are situated, and a box for visitors to enter their post code to find the store closest to them. If you only have a handful of stores, a dropdown list of the individual options is a good way to allow people to select the store of their choice and view its information.
Blogs have become a popular website feature for business in just about any sector. They are great for bringing in additional traffic by delivering useful information or imparting knowledge. This could be answering common questions about your industry, presenting a new product or service, reporting on a recent event that you attended, or sharing company news.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that social media is an important part of the digital age. When used well, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for businesses, allowing them to interact with their audience in a more meaningful way than a simple company-customer relationship.
At the very least, make sure that you link to your social media profiles from your website. It can often be tricky to track down the right social accounts for small businesses, so give people a helping hand so they can find you easily.
It’s no secret that videos dominate the internet. They offer a visual, engaging element to your website that allows you to speak to your visitors—quite literally. Videos are perfect for small businesses where face-to-face interactions are important, such as therapists, or where a customer might feel more at ease seeing you in person before giving you certain information, such as a financial advisor.
Your overall goals might be to sell a certain number of products or to reach a certain profit, but there could be smaller goals within these to help you to focus your efforts. One goal might be to sell the entire stock of a certain line by the end of the month, or to get x number of email sign-ups each week.
There are many different ways to track your website’s performance, some of which are fairly general, and some which will be specific to the goals that you have determined. These are known as KPIs, or key performance indicators. Generic KPIs might include website traffic, email sign-ups, social media engagement, contact form enquiries or phone calls.
Continually optimize your site and develop useful content to your visitors based on what’s working.