There’s no longer a question of whether or not you should have a website in today’s world. If you’re in business, you need a website.
If you’re a DIYer and thinking about building your own business website, here are some important tips for you to consider as you pull it all together.
Start With Website Basics
In her “30 Tips for Building Your First Business Website” Small Business Trends article, Annie Pilon offers some actionable advice to turn a website concept into a reality. We’ve taken these tips and re-grouped and summarized them to make it easy for you to see what you need to consider as you go through the process or building a website.
Website Goals and Content
Begin with a clear vision of your purpose and intent – this will guide the design of your website. Do you want to sell products online? Do you want customers to get in touch with you first? Whatever your intention, your website will reflect that goal. And if you don’t have a purpose, website creation will be the longest and most frustrating experience possible – not to mention a waste of money!
Next, write your own content, even if someone else will edit it later. You know your company better than anyone, so compose the first draft. In this content deck there should be:
· A clearly stated purpose: Sweet and short – people will not read an entire page of copy to determine who you are and what you do.
· What you can do for them:Feature the benefits customers can get through your products and services, and write much less about you.
· Clear calls to action: Should people shop? Sign up for your newsletter? Give some guidance on what they should do!
Inspiration: Without replicating or copying a site, make a short list of websites you love that will help guide the way.
The right designer: With so many talented designers out there, you want to be sure to choose someone that best embodies your style and can provide the functionality you need. Ask for samples and references. Pay attention to the size and scale of the project – even if the designer did an amazing job with a huge website for a very big client, it may not make sense for you to bring them on for a small project or vice versa.
Existing themes: It’s great to look at pre-made themes, especially if you are on a budget and can’t afford a designer to make a site from scratch, but be cautious of free themes that may be less secure.
Simplicity: Keep your design simple and clean to create the most inviting space for your customers, especially focusing on a readable font.
Beautiful imagery: Add pictures and visuals to your site to make it more engaging, but avoid cheap stock photography that looks impersonal and unrelated to your company.
Short videos: These are always wonderful to incorporate into your site, but make sure they are high quality before posting them front and center.
Your team: Include photos of your employees to put a face on your business!
Your customers: Testimonials with accompanying images are amazing assets for your page, especially since they allow you to deomonstrate your brand strengths without spelling it out yourself.
Your story: Why did you create your business beyond making money? Share this insight right on your website to connect people to your brand.
Page hierarchy: Whether you need a few pages (home, contact, about) or a robust multi-page site with e-commerce functionality, decide on the map and flow before building a site.
Own the domain: When possible, purchase the domain name. It’s more professional than difficult website addresses with varying extensions.
Choose the right host: choose the best hosting platform for your website’s needs.
Include a contact form: Since many people want a quick way to send a note (and don’t want to send an email), provide an easy-to-use contact form. Additionally, provide ALL your contact information for people to get in touch with you!
Ask yourself how quickly your company will grow before you lock down website details. If your site will stay small, a low-cost platform may make the most sense. However, if you think your business will outgrow the basic features of a small website very quickly, pick a different platform at the get-go since it’s difficult to transfer all your content to a new host.
As you continue to grow and evolve, you can expand your footprint and invest in tools such as Search Engine Optimization. In addition, consider a mobile site if it makes sense for your company.
Above all, embrace the fact that you will continue to change with your website as you learn new things as you go through this process.
Did you create your own website or did you need an expert team? What did you learn? What advice do you wish you would have had before going into the process? Please share with us!
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