Your small business website has the potential to get you off to a flying start, turn your fortunes around for the better, or, worst-case scenario, give the wrong impression to customers. How can you make sure you’re ticking off point one and two and not three? We’ll show you 10 ingredients for building a great platform for your small business.
1. Remember, images are everything
The success of a small business website can often depend on immediate visual impact. Use lacklustre or unfitting images and it’s a simple click for visitors to turn off. Images support your communication efforts; help explain products and further reflect your brand. One of the barriers to small businesses not incorporating images is the perception they need a license to use them. However, there are a number of platforms where you can purchase Royalty Free Images. This doesn’t mean they are free, but it does mean once you have purchased them you don’t have to pay royalties to the person or company who owns the image.
2. Do it right with your domain name
Picking the right domain name is also important. Once you’ve started to use it, changing it can be time-consuming and can affect search engine results. Using key search terms in your domain name allows search engines to find you more easily. Often, if your sector or type of business is popular, the ideal domain name can already be taken. During this process, you must ensure that your name makes sense, is easily understandable and simple to spell.
3. Choose a quality web hosting provider
You can be spoiled for choice when looking for a web host provider. One of the most important things to do is consider precisely what your business needs. For example, do you need a few different domain names to maximise the chances of customers finding you? If so, is your hosting provider able to host both and what are the costs implications? Also, if you plan for an E-commerce site, you will need to make sure you have a connection to a secure server (SSL) to make sure your site is encrypted.
If your site has been built to sell products and/or services, or if you’d like the option to do so in the future, you will need the right platform to ensure smooth financial transactions are possible. Examples of popular E-commerce platforms include Shopify, BigCommerce and Squarespace. Many of these can seem to offer similar features such as high speed, business management tools, reliability and better SEO, but there are subtle differences so it’s advisable to carry out thorough research and read the reviews.
5. Consider what you need from a content management system
There are many CMS systems out there, some more well-known than others. Research as many of them as you can so you know you are getting the best fit. WordPress is arguably one of the most popular CMS systems, powering almost a third of the world’s websites. However, there are other options, including Wix where you can edit your site in a web browser or Joomla, an open-sourced content management system.
6. Use website analytics
Site analytics are essential tools to help website owners discover more about what is working and not working on their website. Analytics tools like Google Analytics or Hot Jar give detailed insights as to what visitors are engaging with (and not) and how they are engaging. They can also provide information on which pages are the most popular and how much time is being spent in particular areas by visitors. Different tools include those that analyse content, usability and SEO.
7. Make sure your copy and content are engaging
Engaging content and accurate copy are essential to making an excellent impression for your online visitors. Spelling mistakes, poor sentence structure and failing grammar can give the idea that your business isn’t as professional as it could be. Your content needs to be engaging, error-free and useful to your target audience. Make the focus on the benefits to your customers, and not everything about your business or your products.
8. Get your content checked from an outside source
Make sure that all the words on your website are proofread. This can sometimes mean asking others from outside of your business to look over your copy and content and check navigation and functionality. Ask trial users to go through the process of trying to find something or buy something on your site, this can be a great way of earthing unknown errors.
9. Launch it successfully
After all your hard work setting up the site, you should ensure you have a launch plan befitting of your efforts. Once you have publicised your new launch, visitors will be expecting high-quality content, so make sure you deliver. To create a hype around the launch you may also want to initiate a countdown on the landing page and announce it through social media.
10. Maintain your content
Once you have made sure you have all the right tools, providers and techniques in place, all your energies should not go to waste and you should ensure your content is well maintained. This tells your customers you are responsive to their needs, keep on top of what is happening in your industry and it also ensures search engine rankings are sustained and improved.