Once you have got the basics in place and are clear about who you are, what you will offer and who your target market is, you can start to think about how you will get the message out to them.
Regardless of whether you trade from home or from a retail premises you will need to think about your digital presence. The number of people using the Internet to find information and buy products or services has grown dramatically over the past few years. So if you want to make sure your potential customers find out about you, then you need a website.
Follow these four simple steps to make sure that you have a website that works for you and your business.
1. Make sure you buy your own domain
We always recommend you purchase your own domain. Too many times we have come across companies that have let their web design agency purchase a domain for the client and also register it to themselves. This can cause issues in the future if you ever need to move your website and email hosting elsewhere.
It is your domain, make sure you buy it, own it and register it to yourself.
There are a number of places to purchase a domain. We recommend www.123-reg.co.uk, but there are plenty of good alternatives. To register a domain takes less than 5 minutes and you will pay less than £10 to register a .co.uk domain for 2 years. In two years’ time, you will need to renew your domain, but don’t worry, they will send you plenty of reminders and you can set it to auto-renew.
You may need to give your login details to your web developer for them to make a few changes. This is only optional, but we recommend you change your password first and send the details to your developer. After they have made the required changes, change your password back.
2. Commission an experienced website designer
There are lots of companies offering free or very cheap website design services. These use simple templates that allow you to add images and content. If you haven’t got a budget at all then this is better than nothing, you can always upgrade as your business grows.
However, remember that there are over 935 million websites on the Internet and this number is growing daily. It’s quite likely that this sort of website will not perform well on search engines. Choosing a website designer that can build a professional website and ensure that your website is coded correctly is invaluable. If your website performs well on search engines it will have increased chances of being found.
Get a few quotes and also look at websites the website designer has built for other clients to get a feel what they can produce. Also make sure you are clear upfront about all costs associated with the build and set clear timelines.
3. Decide on the content management system
There are a number of content management systems for websites, the most popular is WordPress and then there are others such as Joomla, ModX and TextPattern. Most of these work in similar ways and the website designer may have a preference for one specific content management system.
The important thing is that you need to check is that you will be able to add content and images yourself. Some website companies set up your website and retain control of it, so you have to send content to them every time you want to update. This is not only costly it reduces the chances of you being able to adapt and change the content as your business grows.
Most good website designers will show you how to add content and also how to add blogs so that you can keep adding fresh content as you need to.
4. Write content that engages your customers
Once your website has been built and there are some stunning images to attract potential customers, you need to think about how you engage the customers. You should have content that is concise and easy to read, most people will only spend a few seconds on a website before moving on if they don’t read something of interest. It is important to focus on the benefits of your products and services. The main mistake people make is writing lots about themselves or their business. When you buy a new car do you want to read about the history of BMW?
Most people use a copywriter to write their content because it’s often easier for an experienced copywriter to draw out the key benefits and information that your customers will be interested in. They can also make sure that the keywords are in the content to help with search engine optimisation.
Finally, when writing your content, don’t forget the very final vital ingredient – make sure that you have a clear call to action on every page and that customers can easily get in touch with you via phone or email. Having a prominent contact us box always works well.