If you’re looking to create your first website, or even to update an existing one for your small business, there are a number of things you should consider first. Many small business are disappointed with their first website and feel that it has not delivered what they wanted. This guide will help you to ask the right questions and get the best from your website.
1. Aim of Your Site
You need to have an aim for your website, otherwise you risk getting the message lost, confusing visitors and losing business. Are you going to be selling a product online? Do you want to get data from your customers in the form of a newsletter sign up? Do you just want people to get in touch? If you don’t have a purpose for your website, there is no point in having one.
It is important to consider whether you want your website to have a CMS. Many platforms such as Drupal and WordPress make it very easy for clients to have a Content Management System – meaning that you can easily edit the text, pictures and pages on your website. It also means that you don’t need to pay a web developer every time that you want to make a tiny change.
It is vitally important to think about the words on your website. If this is your first introduction to the world of online, make it memorable! Do some competitor research to see what they say about themselves. Note down anything you like and anything that you really don’t. It might be a good idea to get someone else to write the copy. Sometimes when it’s your business you’re writing about, it can be all too easy to get too caught up in it without stepping back and writing objectively. Always, always ask someone to proofread it!
Please invest in some high quality pictures for your site. iStock or pixelated images are a poor reflection of your company. It is well worth paying a photographer £100 or so for some nice pictures that you can use for all of your branded materials.
5. How will people find you?
Once you’re website’s up and running, how are people going to find it? If you’re a local business, do some research into Google Local Places and set up a page. Get going with social media as well as it is fairly easy to build up a steady following. There is a wide range of information on the internet about search engine optimisation. Be careful if you’re hiring a consultation and always ask to see a monthly report of work completed.
This may be only a small part of web design for small businesses but it is a good starting place if you’re new to online marketing. A good web designer will make a point to sit down with you to help you understand the work they are undertaking so that the project is a collaboration rather than just their own design.