Has your business been seriously affected by the global pandemic? If so, creating a website for your business could be instrumental in helping you move forward.
How? Let’s start with the facts.
Studies show 70 to 80 percent of consumers research online before they buy a product or service. We can expect this data to rise with the global pandemic. Especially since businesses have either closed stores or now operate with limited staff. America immediately felt the effects of this decision as store visits in the US fell by an alarming 90% in one month last March. Yet it’s important to keep in mind that internet usage also went up by 50% to 70% in countries around the world.
It’s safe to say that your audience hasn’t vanished into thin air. Instead, they’ve moved online. This is what makes creating a website for your business important. Your website should be at the core of your online presence. If users Google your business and can’t find you, consider yourself invisible. Your competitors might as well thank you for letting them get ahead.
We’re not saying that the mere presence of a website will immediately get you ahead of the competition, but doing it right will.
In this article, we’ll go through some tips you should keep in mind before creating a website for your business. We’ll walk you through the features of a good business website. We’ll explain what does and doesn’t work. You’ll also get estimates, so you can figure out the cost of setting up a business website.
Tip #1: Identify your purpose
Always start by setting your objectives. Know them by heart and list them down if you have to share them with a team. If you’re having trouble identifying your website’s purpose, try answering the following questions as a guide:
- What do you plan to achieve?
- What are your expectations?
- What would your potential customers want to know about your product?
- What do you want visitors to do once they’re on your website?
- How complex do you want your website to be?
! First impressions last! So be clear about stating what you do and how you can make a positive impact on your customers’ lives. Introduce your products by emphasizing their benefits. Structure your website in a way that will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story either. 5W Public Relations reports that 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values. Share more about your values as a brand. If your brand story is one that a potential customer can empathise with, you’re one step closer to winning them over.
As much as possible, think about what you want your potential customers to do while they’re on your website as well. Do you want them to buy your products through the website? Should they reserve a schedule for a free demo of your product? Would you like them to subscribe to your newsletter?
Whatever your intent is, it should be 100% crystal clear from the get-go. It’s hard to encourage conversions when your audience doesn’t know exactly what your website is for. At the same time, you also want to give them an incentive to perform certain actions. Do you want your customers to take the time to fill out forms and give you their data? They’ll be more open to doing so if they know they can get something in return.
One great thing about websites is how flexible and versatile they are. As long as you have clear objectives in mind, you can begin creating a website for your business.
Tip #2: Pick your domain name
Your domain name will serve as your website’s name and address online. When creating a website for your business, make sure to consider this. Why? Because potential customers will be associating your domain name with you. Luckily, deciding on your domain name will be up to you! As long as it’s not owned by someone else, that is.
So what should you consider when picking a domain name? Your domain name should be:
- Associated with the name of your business
- Short and easy to spell
- Without acronyms and numbers, unless they’re associated with your business name
The choice of a top-level domain (TDL) is also up to you. Most websites still have “.com” but if you’re living in Australia, we strongly recommend you use a “.com.au”.
When you’re done picking out a domain name, you can contact a domain provider. You’ll be buying that domain name and renewing it at least annually to be able to continue using it.
Be on the lookout for providers like GoDaddy, which has a selection of Aussie domain extensions available like:
On Crazy Domains, International domain names cost at least $19.00 per year while domain names with local extensions cost at least $22 per year.
In general, you can expect to add anywhere from $10 to $50 to the cost of setting up a business website for a domain.
Tip #3: Choose a reliable web host
What is a web host? Your web host is responsible for providing you with a server where you can store all the data for your website. It’s important to select a reliable web hosting service because if this server goes down, all data on your site will become temporarily inaccessible.
Website downtime can result in lost opportunities for your business. This is why you should factor in great customer service when selecting a web hosting service. This way, if any downtime does occur you’ll be able to reach your provider and have them look into the situation.
Website hosting services can cost anywhere between $100 to $500 per year depending on the features included in your package.
There are alternatives that can help you get the best bang for your buck. Companies like AdHawk include free unlimited hosting in their website design package. This setup further simplifies the process of creating a website for your business.
Tip #4: Select a website CMS
CMS is short for Content Management System. We’ll skip the jargon and head straight to why having a CMS is important: it will help you build a website even if you don’t know how to code at all. This is huge, especially if you don’t want to add programmer fees to the final cost of setting up a business website.
How does it work?
We’ll use the most commonly used CMS on the internet as an example: WordPress.
Let’s say you want to write an article and publish it on your site. If you have a CMS like WordPress, all you’ll have to do is login to your account and create a post. This will take you to a page with labeled text boxes that you can fill in with information.
There’s a text box for the title, a text box for the body, a text box for SEO-related necessities like article tags and the meta description. You are easily able to change fonts and upload images through toolbars that resemble a regular Microsoft Word document. Once you’re done, you can click publish and the article will be published to your website. You can even schedule when a certain article is published!
This process is a breeze compared to working without a CMS. Editing a website without a CMS means you’ll have to code a static HTML file then upload it to your server yourself. That’s a lot of work, considering the alternative!
WordPress is also miles ahead of competitors in user management. The platform is easy to understand, learn, use, set-up and update even for people who have no prior knowledge of programming. To top it all off, it makes website customization more flexible with easy-to-install and affordable plugins. This is why it’s no surprise that WordPress holds a whopping 37% market share of all the websites on the internet.
Having a CMS is a long-term investment that saves you both time and money. Without it, you’ll need to spend extra time on learning how to code or cut deeper into your budget by hiring someone who can code for you.
Tip #5: Create a mood board
Think of your mood board as a collection of visual elements that will help guide the design direction of your website. It’s supposed to be a casual approach to design concepts; a way for your team to brainstorm and get inspired before they dive into website design.
How else does a mood board help with the creative process? It’s also a great way to make sure that clients and creative teams are on the same page. Providing images of what you have in mind for a design lessens the chance of misunderstandings that may happen if you just describe concepts verbally. Less misunderstandings mean less revisions. This can speed up the process of creating a website for your business in the long run.
Cool, right? There are plenty of applications online that can help you create a mood board as well. Try giving Milanote a shot. This app lets you collate images, notes, and texts in one board that you are then able to share with your team.
Pinterest is great when you’re looking for references. There are a ton of inspiring images on Pinterest and most of them have already been curated by users. This makes the process of searching much easier.
Tip #6: Design with a clean and intuitive theme in mind
Before you create a custom website theme (or select from the available options of your CMS), it’s best to list down what features you’d like your website to have. For this process, creating a basic sitemap helps.
Think of the sitemap as the skeleton of your website. It shows you how your website’s content will be structured by mapping out how your pages are connected. Sitemaps start with the pages found on the homepage and branch out until all pages on the site have been accounted for. Having a sitemap laid out will make the process of designing a website theme easier because you will have a clearer idea of what pages to accommodate.
Your website theme is another thing to consider while creating a website for your business. When we say “theme,” we mean the site’s overall look and feel. This is where elements like font, color palettes, and style come into play.
Remember to keep your theme clean and readable. You want your site to be informative but not overwhelming. If there’s too much going on when a customer visits your website, they might miss out on your most important messages.
Your customers might not even finish loading the page if you bog your site down with too many features. The ideal page load time is 2 to 5 seconds with the bounce rate increasing every second after the 2-second mark. Try to keep your page load time inside that window to make sure your site is at optimal performance.
You also want fonts that can easily be read through a screen. Let’s be real: not everyone who reads your website will actually take the time to read it. They’re more likely to skim and pick out words and phrases that stand out to them. This is especially true for mobile users who not only have a smaller screen but who could be browsing while they’re on the go as well.
And while we’re on the topic of mobile: be sure to select a responsive theme. We live in a time where most customers engage in consuming content through different devices. In fact, a 2018 study by Google revealed that 63% of shopping occasions begin online. Meanwhile a recent report by Kantar revealed that up to 60% of customers in Europe will continue making online purchases at the same level even after the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s good to have all your bases covered. Make sure that your website is functional and presentable across all devices, especially mobile.
Lastly, don’t forget your color theory. Color is significant to the human mind. It can create ideas, express emotions and spark interest in people. In the same way that many fast food brands are believed to use the color red because it creates a sense of urgency, your website must also consider the emotions that you want color to elicit in your readers.
In general, a premium website theme can cost you around $100 to $150. If your site has additional features that may require plugins, you might find yourself spending an extra $100 to $200 as well.
Tip #7: Keep everything on brand
Your website is a direct extension of your brand. Always keep in mind that your website is supposed to be your main presence online.
It’s important to maintain a strong brand identity on your website because it will be the main touchpoint between you and your potential customers online. Your website will aslo anchor all your future campaigns moving forward. Since most of your digital traffic should lead to your website, it needs to look, read, and feel like your brand.
Revisit your brand guidelines and share them with the team creating a website for your business. Work with them on this to make sure that you’re all on the same page. A beautiful, responsive website will still be of little help to your business if the content strays from your branding. You want visitors to know they’re on your site the moment the page loads.
Tip #8: Debug and publish
Going live is a huge milestone. But as exciting as it is, it also needs to be as smooth as possible. You wouldn’t want to show off a site that crashes on the homepage or has missing pages and glitches when visitors try to access it, right?
Again, first impressions last. Your competence and reliability as a business shouldn’t boil down to how functional an online page is, but for a chunk of your customers it will. Especially since a subpar and buggy website can lead to unsatisfactory customer experiences. You want viewers on your site walking away with answers, not more questions. Make it a worthwhile experience. Your site visitors will appreciate you for doing so.
To minimize the odds of troubleshooting on the same day your website is launched, be sure to test and debug it multiple times before you publish. You can also do a QA immediately after launch, just to make sure everything is in place. There’s nothing wrong with triple-checking everything if it means you won’t lose future business because of a few oversights.
Tip #9: Market your website
While having an optimized website that brings in organic traffic is ideal, new websites need all the help they can get to get started and grow a following. A proper website launch is important if you want to hit the ground running.
Here are a few things you can do to help market your website:
- Strengthen your organic reach by keeping your site optimised for search engines.
Majority of searches start on search engines like Google. It only makes sense that you optimise your site for this specific online user behavior. By ramping up your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you’re practically giving your online presence a chance to appear on the first page of search results, which is where most clicks happen.
- Link your website on your social media pages and vice versa.
Social media is a great way for connecting with potential customers but your website has everything they know about you and your products or services. By linking the two together, you make sure that customers can build familiarity with your brand: who you are, what’s your story and what you can do.
- Be sure to share any updates done via your website on your social media pages as well.
It’s unlikely for even the most loyal customers to visit your website everyday. By sharing updates on social, you make sure that important information posted on your website is relayed to your followers.
- Have a mailing list? Be sure to include a link to your website whenever you send them an email blast.
People who subscribe to your mailing list have expressed a clear interest in your brand. Nurture your relationship with them by providing them links to useful content uploaded on your site. This can be an article, a downloadable piece of content, a video — anything worth your customer’s time.
Tip #9.5: Recognize your website for what it is — a long-term investment
The final item on our list is more of a mindset that you need to embrace.
During this pandemic, creating a website for your business is a necessity. But, the true value of your website will not diminish once a vaccine for COVID-19 is found. People have been using search engines to look up products they’re interested in even before the pandemic. That behavior is not likely to change. In the end, it’s worth dedicating time, resources and effort into creating a website for your business because of the benefits it will continue to bring in the years to come.
If by the end of this article you still find yourself apprehensive over the idea of going through the process of creating a website for your business, we encourage you to check out our website design and development services. We’ll basically do all the leg work for you, so you can make the transition to digital with ease.