You know your small business won’t exist for most people until you get it online. Having your own business site is essential to get new customers and promote your services and products. Yet that’s easier said than done. Having a good site isn’t just a matter of design – it’s a matter of planning and understanding what are you try to tell with it.
Adjusting a company site to meet such standards isn’t easy, so imagine what happens when you do it for the first time. Are you in that position right now? Don’t worry. We at Lis7o are ready to give you some tips to get the first website of your small business up and running. Follow these steps and you’ll be closer to a great site!
Understand the why
If you are thinking about having your own site simply because it’s what’s everyone is doing, then you’re doomed from the start. Though it’s obvious that you need a site, you need to understand what can you do with it. A site that seeks to sell products isn’t the same as one that wants to inform about services or one that looks to encourage people to contact. If you don’t understand why are you developing your business site, then you’re not ready to start building one.
Lay out the foundations
Now that you know why, it’s time to start settling on the what. What will you tell your customers? What’s the story you want to tell? Which elements are you going to use for that? That seems way too broad to cover, but you at least should have some ideas for taglines, certain key contents and your company’s story. None of them have to be perfect but they’ll be enough to put your site’s goal in paper. It’ll be easier to pick it up from there and get it online.
Don’t forget CTAs
This closely relates to the why of your site. Let’s say you want people to subscribe to your newsletter so you have the possibility to reach out to them more easily. You’ll need to build the site with that in mind and actually make your intentions as clear as possible. In this case, you’ll have to put a clear call to action inviting people to sign up to your newsletter. It doesn’t matter your company’s goal – CTAs tell people what you expect from them and makes it easier for them to act accordingly.
Develop a structure
With all of the above already defined, it’s time to start sketching your site. In this stage, you’ll have to think about the structure of your whole site. Depending on your goals, your site could use a simple structure with just a few pages or a more complex one with more pages and sub-pages. Though the advisable is not to overcomplicate things, your goal will determine whether you need many pages or not. Be it as it may, just remember that you’re serving a purpose here, so your structure should respond to it as well.
Check other sites
Researching the competition is key to see where you’re standing. You can see other companies’ structures, content tones and ideas to have a deeper understanding of how your field promotes itself online. This research will give provide you with some neat inspiration for your first business site. The secret here is to find a balance between everything your audience already expects from a business like yours and something unique that surprises people and conveys the message of how different you are from everyone else.
Get professional help
Unless you know exactly how to develop a new site, don’t try to do it yourself. You may think that’s a good idea to save some bucks but you’ll lose tons of time learning how to do it without help – and the results will most likely be far from what you’ve expected. A professional web designer will do a better job, provided that you can give him/her with the right directions and thoughts about what you need and want.
Buy your domain
Want your small business site to look professional in all levels? Then buy your domain name. There’s nothing more unprofessional than checking that an official company site has some extension like .wordpress.com in its name. The same goes for your email. Though you can use Gmail, Outlook and the like, people will see you as more serious if your email accounts have your company’s name after the @.
Invest in a good host
Here’s another thing on which many small businesses try to save some money – hosting. There are several hosting platforms that offer some space for free but end up placing their own ads or branding on your site. Want to look professional? Then choose a host that can respond and in which you can trust. For most small businesses, WordPress is the best option because of how customizable and scalable it is. But if you need something radically different, check your options – and invest some money on the hosting you need.
Keep it simple
Your web designer should be already working on your site by now, which is great. Just remind him/her that your business site doesn’t need to be too complex design-wise. Just use your company’s colors, a few textures and some key texts. We’re living in an era where most sites are keeping it to a minimum, so you don’t want your business site to stand out for the wrong reasons. Besides, people run away from business sites that have way too much content.
Like it or not, videos are one of the staples of the current Web. People will almost always prefer to watch a video than reading anything you give to them. So, if you want to present your products or services in a quick an entertaining way, always use video. That will give you the chance to get your message across rather quickly and will give your visitors a simpler option than reading to figure your company out.
Include user reviews
Give you’re developing a business site, you should consider including a space to let your customers express themselves about your company. Reviews are the perfect way to do this, since it gives clients the possibility to voice their concerns and provide with valuable feedback. Besides, reviews and testimonials create a sense of credibility to your site that you won’t get from anything else. Of course, try to have the best one displayed on an important place in your site, so those visiting you for the first time get a good first impression.
Make your contact page visible
Though not all companies will need a contact page, the crushing majority will certainly benefit from having one on their sites. So, don’t forget yours, since people will surely want to reach out to you for questions, doubts and feedback. Additionally, don’t “hide” your contact page deep in your footer or down in your site’s structure. Instead, give it a predominant position where everyone can find it and gain quick access to your email, phone, address and social profiles.
Humanize your brand
People want to know that they are dealing with people while on the Internet. That’s why you always include photos of you, your staff and your offices in your site. This will show all your visitors that there’s a team of workers behind your brand and that you’re more than just a site. You’re a team that they can relate to and talk to in case they need it. In fact, once your site is done, extending this practice to your social networks will be a great next step.
Make it responsive
We warn you – we won’t get tired of saying this. If you make your site responsive, you’ll be sure it’ll look great on any screen it’s displayed on. Given how many people are surfing the Web on tablets and smartphones, you definitely want your site to look the best it can on those smaller devices. That’s when responsiveness comes in, by automatically adjusting the site to look its best on mobile.
Take your time to learn SEO
Perhaps you have heard about SEO, perhaps you haven’t. Either way, it’s high time you start researching and learning about it. Why? Because if you don’t adjust your site’s SEO, you’ll be missing a lot of chances to do business. SEO ensures your site is found through search engines but there’s a lot of things you can do to make that happen. Once you have site online, it’ll be up to you to investigate what can you do on a SEO level – or hire a professional to do it for yourself.
Though this is a fairly complete list, it’s far from being exhaustive. Making a great site will take you some time and you won’t ever be finished with it. The secret is to keep tweaking and refreshing your site to keep up with the current trends and take full advantage of them. So, you should think of your first site as a kickoff for a long journey where nothing’s definitive and everything will be changed, little by little. But you got to start somewhere, right?