I'm often times asked by potential clients, "What do I need to do to get my business website started?"
Here's a quick rundown of the top 10 things you should think about when having your first website built or a redesign of your current website.
This is not 1996, and 3 blinking images and your contact information does not make a good website. You or someone in your organization that will maintain the website needs to sit down with the people in charge of the company/organization and a pencil and paper and hash out a few things.
- Who's In Charge?
First, who will make decisions during the design and development process? There can be consensus among a group of people, but a single contact needs to be the one who hands down the final approval for each step of the process. Otherwise chaos will ensue as rework after rework is done to meet the needs of multiple 'bosses'.
- Find Your Niche
What do you sell, service or produce? Be specific here. If you sell AC and Heating Services to residential customers, then focus on that market specifically in your text and images used for the site. Don't show a skyscraper on the front page of your website, people will get confused about what it is you do. The more focused you are about describing your services, the better chance of turning web surfers into customers .
- Stay on Target
Who is your target market? Again, be specific. Following the theme above, your target market would obviously be homeowners with 10 year old homes up to 30 year old homes being the bulk of what you service. So speak to these people when you write about your services. Find out from your current customers what the median age is and make it easy for them to understand your information.
- KISS - Keep it Simple Slick
I can't stress this enough to new website entrepreneurs. People on the web have a hard enough time searching for a business or service on google, and the google homepage only has 1 box and 2 buttons! You only have about 3 seconds (proven fact) to grab someone's attention on a web page they visit before they will decide to click away and move on. Make it interesting, tell them:
> Who you are
> What you got
> Why it's good
> What to do next
The final step there is a call to action and needs to happen on every page of your site (see number 6 below).
- Write Great Content
If you are not a person who writes, then find someone in your organization who can, but speak in basic terms about what you do. Visitors don't know what you know about your industry. A professional who writes content for a website is called a copywriter and the cost for a decent to good one can range from $50 a page to $500 per page of copy depending on what you need it to say and how you want to say it. If you have content already, it's a good idea to have it proof read for SEO and Marketability.
- Create a Call to Action on Every Page
A call to action is just that, you are asking the visitor to take action. Whether you want them to click a link, pick up the phone, or email you for more information. Whatever your website message is, make sure you tell them what you would like for them to do next.
- Get the Word Out
Post your website address on every social media website you are a member of. Don't know what social media is? Ask your kids, or that young secretary or tech you just hired. Facebook, Twitter, Digg, anywhere you can add your link to get that first bit of traffic crawling your pages. This is how google will find you quickly as well. Ask friends to do the same with your new link. If your profession or group has a forum where people discuss your topic, become a member and answer questions. You will be amazed at how well received a free professional opinion is among people searching for knowledge.
- Become a Great Source of Information
Create a latest news section or blog that you update regularly to talk about your product, service, goals and notable achievements. Keep this focused on the user, not you. Remember, I want to know about the benefits for me, not the features you think I want. I don't care about the latest HVAC testing tools you have, I want to know how you can help me reduce my heating and cooling costs. If you have to talk about your new tools, then tell them why it's going to help them with their heating and cooling costs.
- Find the Right Web Designer
Find a great web design firm that understands marketing and SEO as well as good design and usability. There's a lot of so called web designers out there that think an image exported from Photoshop is all there is to building a good website. Photoshop is not a bad thing, but it is simply a tool to make a graphic design in, not create a full website from. There's more to building a website than just a pretty face. Make sure they offer a free consultation up front to discuss your project goals and needs. Look for certifications and ask if they know what the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is, even if you don't. You can discover a lot of information by speaking with a number of different people in a given profession before you part with your hard earned money.
- Don't Quit Before You Begin!
Don’t stop working on your website the day you launch your new pride and joy. The journey has just begun and now it's time to market, test and refine the site to better meet your client's needs and improve your conversion rate. Search Engine Optimization alone should keep you busy for the first year.
If you would like more information on any of the topics above, don't hesitate to contact me personally to discuss your specific custom web design needs.
Got a question or comment? I would love to hear your response in the comments below.