How to Develop an Effective Website
Today’s internet users expect simple and well-designed websites to help them easily get the information, products, or services they’re seeking. A complex or poorly designed website is no longer just a marketing weakness– it can hurt your business.
Website design software has progressed to the point that you don’t need coding or design skills to create a decent site. DIY websites have never been more possible in web design than they are today. Whether you decide to create a website yourself or hire someone else to do it, we have some guidelines to help you produce a functional, searchable, and attractive website that brings you business.
Here are eight steps to business website success.
1. Answer the “Why?” Behind Your Website
While you’re likely aware that you need a website for your business, do you know why you need one? A business website typically serves as a digital storefront– to provide information, to make sales, or both.
Whatever you determine the purpose of your site to be, it’s critical that your website includes your value proposition: what value do you provide and to whom?
The purpose behind your site should be reinforced by user experience. What do you want the user to find? And what do you want them to do? Users should be able to do whatever it is that you want them to do with ease. If your website is purely informational, it won’t require as much set up. However, if your website is meant to be an e-commerce platform, there’s more set up involved (see Step 3).
2. Pick a Domain Name
This is the URL– your web address –that will allow people to access your website. Here are some tips for picking a domain name:
- Keep it close to your business name– descriptive, but short and easy to remember
- Keep it simple, avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and numbers
You will also need to select a top-level domain (TLD), which is the suffix after your domain name. The default TLD is .com, but there is also .net, .biz, .org, and many more nontraditional customizable TLDs.
After making these selections, you must confirm that the combination of the domain and TLD is indeed available and not a copyright infringement, then purchase the rights to it through a domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Wix, or Squarespace. If your preferred website address is already taken, you can offer to buy it from whoever owns it.
3. Set Up an E-commerce System (If Needed)
If you decide per Step 1 that your website will serve as a sales platform, you will need to set up either e-commerce software or a third-party payment processor in order to take payments from customers. Many web hosts, like the popular WordPress and Squarespace, already offer a plugin or integration with e-commerce functionality. However, there is a myriad of software options to suit a wide variety of e-commerce needs, so do some research to find what works for you.
4. Design Your Site
At the very least, it’s important to create a home page that answers the “why” behind your website and who you are as a company as well as either a contact page or form. Write some compelling copy that gets straight to the point and include some relevant imagery with your copy.
5. Test Your Site
Once you have that together, test your site on all the major browsers– Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Test it on both desktop and mobile device screens. Make sure images are populating properly, the layout makes sense, and links are working. This is a very important step because if something isn’t working, it will turn people away from your site almost immediately.
6. Publish Your Site
After you’ve determined your site is running smoothly on the major browsers and all screen sizes, it’s time to go live. Publish it, and you can monitor results in real-time using analytics software. Again, many web hosts have built-in analytics, but you can also connect your site to Google Analytics and get some deeper insights into who is visiting your site and from where, at what times, to which pages, and even how they navigate through your site.
7. Promote, Promote, Promote
Once published, it’s time to get the word out about your website. Meet the eyeballs where they are: social media and search engines. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are particularly strong social platforms for promoting your site. In turn, be sure to include links to your social accounts on your website. Search engines will reward you for making these connections.
The more content you generate and internally link to on your site, the better it will serve your search engine optimization (SEO). This is why many businesses choose to update their blog regularly with original content– it keeps their website fresh while also providing new value and authority to draw in users. Other basic SEO tips include:
- Title tags
- Uniform resource identifiers
- Relevant keyword tagging
8. Maintain Your Site
A website is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of project. Like your business, it should be living and breathing. Websites should be updated regularly with news and changes. As recommended in the last step for SEO purposes, it’s wise to maintain a regular blogging schedule to keep users returning to your site and to attract new users.
We also advise that you do at least a monthly or quarterly check on any plug-ins, add-ons, or software you may be using with your site to ensure they are up to date. When you fail to regularly make these updates, you put your site at a security risk– leaving you vulnerable to hackers. If you don’t have time for this up-keep yourself, hire someone else to do it because it’s a must!
An Effective Website = More Business
Your website is the foundation for your business online. It’s also a low-cost and effective method of drawing in business. If you follow the steps detailed above, you will be able to achieve great business exposure, establish credibility in your industry, and acquire more qualified leads. Be sure to keep your site fresh and you won’t have to worry about disappearing into the digital void. Make your website do the work for you!