Whether you are a freelance photographer or own a startup company, a great website is essential for a company’s success. It’s your digital footprint and a point of contact where users can familiarise themselves with what you have to offer.
If you are looking to build a new startup website or make your current site more effective, here are key steps to getting started and helping your small business website compete in the competitive digital sphere.
1. Obtain a suitable domain name
Your domain name, also known as your website address, is the entry point to your site, it’s what users see when your website is loading or what they will type directly into the URL to load your website in the first instance.
Your website must make a good first impression, for usability purposes, as well as for search engine optimisation (SEO), while also being somewhat memorable in order to make an impact.
Here are some tips for coming up with an optimal domain name:
- Make it easy to spell. Avoid using slang or made up words, and make it suitable and connected to the industry you operate in.
- Keep it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and type correctly.
- Use the proper domain extension. Try to always make it a .com domain name (as opposed to .net, .co, etc.) unless it is more appropriate to use another extension, such as .gov, .edu, or .org.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. They are hard to remember and less elegant and memorable than word-only domain names. Avoid www.code-miners.co.uk for example, keep it straightforward www.codeminers.co.uk.
- Make the address broad to facilitate future growth.
- Research the domain name. Google it to see if a similar website address already exists online, and search on Trademark Office to make sure it does not contain any registered trademarks before you commit.
2. Website Hosting
Website hosting refers to a provider that allows businesses and individuals to publish their website on the internet. They store all the necessary files, assets and databases on their server. Once a user accesses your domain, they can connect to your server and related web pages through their browser.
Your website must have a short load time both in terms of decreasing bounce rate, preventing potential revenue losses and increasing overall SEO ranking.
Here are some tips for choosing a web hosting provider:
- If you have multiple domains look at multiple domain hosting. This reduces long term cost for separate accounts and can be controlled from one account.
- Performance is key. Take into consideration the bandwidth allowance, the number of bytes required to transfer your content. Users don’t have tolerance for slow speeds.
- Shop around, as technology has evolved website hosting services have evolved. There are 6 main types of website hosting services including shared hosting, VPS hosting, Dedicated Hosting, Managed Hosting, WordPress and Cloud hosting.
- Don’t let technical support let you down. Many providers offer 24/7 or 365-day technical support but it’s worth checking this before deciding on a platform. So if there is ever a problem this can be resolved quickly and reduce potential revenue losses.
- Consider the cost. On average, website hosting platforms can cost between £10-200 per month, depending on the services needed and the platform chosen.
3. Website Homepage and About Us Page
It’s imperative that both your website homepage and about us page function properly and are designed with the consumer in mind. The website homepage serves as the first impression to potential customers. The about us page reflects the purpose of the business often why the business was founded and the personality behind this.
Statistically, it only takes the average user 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about a website and 88% of online shoppers are less likely to return to a site because of a bad user experience. This means website functionality and web design can essentially make or break your business.
Here are some website layout tips:
- Use your primary key phrase at the top of your website homepage, to both increases your profitable web traffic and SEO ranking. This instantly highlights to visitors your business purpose and guides them further down the sales funnel.
- Incorporate visual hierarchy. This refers to the arrangement of graphical elements (e.g brand images, colours, headers) in order of importance. It guides the visitor’s attention to the most important elements and deliberately guides them to a call to action.
- Two words: high resolution. Use HD imagery on your website when showcasing your product and/or service. Any pixelation or blurriness detracts users, thinking your product is low quality and business is unprofessional.
CMS stands for Content Management System. A content management system is an application that manages content published on your website. This is typically stored in a highly advanced database and allows multiple contributors to modify the content. Which is then displayed in the presentation layer based on a set of templates.
Some well known CMS platforms include WordPress, Sitecore, Umbraco and Wix. Each content management system has different features and benefits, so you must choose one that matches your company’s vision and your website needs.
Here are some tips for finding the best CMS:
- Research different hosting options. The choice is often between SaaS, Hosted and On-Premise solutions. Many have different features and benefits for businesses. Learn more about the choices here.
- Understand your pricing pinpoint. Each system has different pricing structures and the more complex your requirement the higher the cost. Remember it’s an ongoing service, so explore whether it would be better to invest or pay an initial lower price.
- Look at competitors and gain feedback. If you’ve decided on a CMS, research the most recent reviews and talk to happy customers. This will give your first-hand insight into how this system works and you can see whether it’s the right fit for your business.
Learn more about choosing a CMS platform for your new website here.
5. eCommerce Platform
Arguably the most important aspect of your online business is the e-Commerce platform. A fully functioning e-Commerce website is vital for driving online business. An E-commerce platform is a piece of software that enables businesses to buy and sell products online.
Similar to a CMS platform, an e-commerce platform has different features and benefits for each company. So when choosing a platform it’s important to decide on a high performance retail solution that is tailored to your company needs and streamline the purchasing process.
Here are some tips for finding the best eCommerce platform:
- Check it’s scalable. If you’re anticipating rapid growth or want to advance your business, ensure you can increase your e-Commerce without being hindered by your system.
- Has it got SEO features? This is very beneficial to your online business, supporting you in advancing your search ranking and decreasing your ad spend. SEO features can include: adding a blog, allowing customer reviews and using your website domain.
- Research security and GDPR compliance. With any E-commerce platform, this needs to be secure and confidential for both the user and wider business.
- Multi-device compatibility. Choose a platform that works on phone, tablet and laptop to increase website functionality and user shopping experience.
6. Initial Content
When developing your small business website, conversions are key in building profitable revenue, increasing SEO ranking and overall digital optimisations. However, to start doing this, you first need content on your website that showcases your product offerings and brand purpose.
As you probably guessed a great way to do this is through blogging! As technical experts for web and mobile platforms, this is our way of educating you through our technical expertise and making you aware of our business offerings.
Here are some more digital content ideas:
- Social media posting. From infographics to listicles (like this blog) to webinars and product promotion there are an array of social media posting types. It’s vital any business has a collection of different post types to increase business visibility, user conversions and search ranking. Learn more about different post types here.
- Email newsletters – An effective way to build an initial customer base is through an email newsletter. Introducing them to new products and collections to increase sales revenue, user engagement and consistent web traffic.
- PPC advertising. This refers to pay per click advertising when a business collects revenue from every user click and successful ad results. Placing these in the digital space can drive sales leads, streamline your SEO strategy with user data and advertise directly to people searching for your business.
7. Content Strategy
If you want people to continually engage with your brand’s message and convert into paying customers – you need an effective content strategy. To build this you need to understand your business objectives and how you can integrate this into your content marketing.
With 70% of marketers investing in content marketing, it’s critical to develop an effective content strategy to drive website traffic and user conversions that ultimately increase qualified sales leads for your business.
Here is some advice for developing an effective content strategy:
- Identify your target user base. An effective approach is creating a ‘buyer persona’. A buyer persona is a fictional customer based on real data insights. Include characteristics such as demographics, personality, motivation.
- Solve audience problems and offer solutions to any issues they have. Developing an educational and client-focused approach makes users more engaged with your brand purpose and ensure customers are more qualified users of your product.
- Research preferred content channels. From your original buyer persona, identify the content channels your audience prefer, to target these passive user engagements and convert them into loyal paying clients.
- Create your content. Once you understand your content channels, start creating content that aligns with your buyer personas interests, personality and problems.
- Diversify content further around the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision stage; to ensure you’re targeting them at every stage.
Once you have built your content strategy and published your eCommerce website you need to start researching the data behind both consumer decision making to increase business revenue stream(s). This is often packaged under the umbrella term of ‘analytics’.
It’s important to regularly gather this data as it provides insight into product forecasts which can help your business optimise pricing and earn the maximum revenue. Whilst informing you of customer demographics to tailor more effective and personalised shopping experiences.
There are a variety of website analytics available, but here are the essential ones:
- Website traffic – the number of website visitors you receive.
- Session duration/time on page – how long are your web visitors staying on the site
- Conversion rate: the number of visitors on a website that completes the desired goal.
Learn more about more website analytics you should be monitoring here.
From both your business content strategy and website analytics, you can make data decisions to optimise your website to suit both your business and user needs. Ensuring that your website is fully functional and user improvement is continually improved.
It’s important to regularly implement this holistic approach to improve your SEO ranking, overall web usability and drive profitable traffic to your website.
Here are some examples of e-commerce optimisations:
- Streamline the dropdown menu – if your website has an array of product offerings minimise the dropdown menu so users can easily find their category and product of interest.
- Implement a tap to call button – Like on our website, have an interactive contact button, especially for mobile users, to attract more leads and improve customer experience, at a click of a button!
- Site search bar- A staple on every website this helps website visitors quickly find the content they are looking for and encourage them to return to your website for any future needs.
- Omni-channel personalisation – This uses data-driven analytics such as purchasing history and browsing behaviours to create personalised experiences. 86% of consumers purchasing decisions are affected by website personalisation. This uses data-driven analytics such as purchasing history to create personalised experiences and increase average order value (AOV).
- Payment options – Consider adding more payment options for the paying customer to deliver a convenient and seamless transaction process, improve user experience and decrease cart abandonment rate.
10. Website Maintenance
Your website is the foundation of your business’s online presence, reaching users globally with different time zones. It’s where they learn more about your company, products and/or services and gain business contact information.
Website maintenance refers to regularly checking your website for any technical issues and website mistakes, and keeping the information updated and accurate. This is important because it encourages continued traffic growth, engages customers and strengthens SEO and Google rankings.
Here is what needs to be monitored:
- Website functionality analytics. This provides a snapshot of any SEO issues (e.g broken links) and technical issues (e.g 404 errors) that could present a poor search experience that lose important sales leads. To locate and fix these broken links you can use this free tool by AtomSEO.
- Page speed – with 40% of users abandoning a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, page speed is critical to your website’s success. If you want to improve your website speed, read our guide here.
- Website security verification. If you’re an eCommerce website storing confidential customer information, security is paramount. Ensure you are regularly installing security updates and reviewing GDPR compliance; so you don’t fall victim to a data breach.
Learn more about website maintenance and security here.
When building a small business website, functionality and optimisation are key to build brand awareness and continuous, profitable growth. All areas of your business should work together to promote your business and showcase your products to your intended audience.
If you require some technical website assistance, look no further, we can help, contact our team members to get started. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to learn more about all things website development.