In today’s digital world your website is your virtual shop front that enables your customers to find out more about your business, purchase products or engage with your services. There are often key reasons why small business owners may choose to review their website, declining visitor numbers, slow website or broken pages are some key ones. Once we have completed our marketing immersion session (or marketing strategy), one of the first projects we often work on is the website. We work with the client to draft the project brief and then enlist the support of one of our awesome associates to help us build, create or refresh the website design.
1. What do you need the website to do?
There are a number of different platforms that can host your website, some popular favourites include: WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Shopify. Before we can decide on what the website is going to look like or the right platform to use, we first need to decide what we need the website to do. What fictionality or action do we want our website to be able to manage for our clients? For example, is it a brochure site, where we just want to be able to explain more about what the business does, do we want to create a membership site, or do we want it to take payment for a product, service or course? There are lots of things to think about.
Tip: As part of your marketing strategy, define your key business services, messaging and think about what functionality you would like your website to have.
2. What is in a name?
Once we have defined the functionality of the site, we then need to move on to think about the name. Further to a report in Forbes in February 2023 it states that there are 1.13bn websites live in the world, but 82% are de-activated, meaning only 200m are active. That is a lot of noise out there. With so many websites, finding a good name could be a challenge. Having said that though, finding the right URL is important and needs to link back to your brand.
If you are in the UK then you may wish to click here to see if your ideal brand name is available. If it is not available then it will be worth taking some time to brainstorm some ideas and come up with some alternatives.
Tip: When you purchase your URL, make sure you purchase it in multiple formats to avoid others taking it from you eg: .com, .co.uk, etc.
3. Site Structure
Once we have decided what we want the website to do, and we have selected a name we then need to start to consider the customer journey on the website. This will need to link back to the products and services you offer, define what the most important pages are that you need to focus on? Create a framework to help you share your thinking. The world of website design changes quickly, by working with a website designer who specialises in this area, they will be up to date on those changes and be able to guide the design as needed.
Things to consider are speed of the site, keeping things simple and as visual as possible. Ideally you want to be able to take your customer to where they wish to get to in about three clicks. Essentially if a customer cannot find what they want within three clicks you might lose them, having a simple navigation will be an important as part of the design.
TIP: Consider what content, functionality and media you want to feature on the site eg: will you feature a video, vlog, blog or ability to purchase online?
4. Branding – Ensure it is in keeping with your brand design
So, you have chosen your brand name, website URL and outlined how you want the site to work, now the fun part, the website design. It is important that you have thought about your logo and branding at this stage as it makes your designer’s job much easier. If this is in limbo then you may wish to work on that part of the jigsaw first. If you need to know a bit more about branding click here to read one of our articles. The key to website design is to keep it clean and simple, make fonts easy to read and language jargon free.
Use fonts consistently and be uniform in the format for body copy, headlines and intro text across the whole of the website, there is nothing more annoying and distracting than having inconsistent formatting. Consideration should also be given to accessibility of the site, some colours for example are more difficult to read for someone with visual impairment or colour blindness, for this reason use yellow and orange carefully. Click here to read more about this.
Don’t forget with a website, you also need to consider your imagery. I always suggest it is worth investing a little for website imagery to help create your individual identity, if you use free stock imagery you may well find the same image on your competitor website. Of course the optimum solution is to have your own brand photo shoot to help create your unique identity, but if this is not always possible, purchasing some stock photography until you are able and ready to invest is a good alternative. Some good image sites to check out are: iStock, Shutterstock or Getty Images.
Tip: Many small business owners take the opportunity of working on a website project to redesign their brand identity.
5. Have a clear call to action
Think about what actions you want your customers to take on your website, these will vary depending upon your business and industry. They may vary on different pages but could include: signing up to a newsletter, getting in touch to find out more, joining a webinar, booking a place on an online programme or buying a product. When thinking about your calls to action you want to keep things simple. Don’t try to give the client so much choice that they won’t know what to do, be single minded if you can and feature just one, maybe two calls to action.
Tip: Make sure you have obvious calls to action on each page and try to keep things as simple as possible.
6. What is your SEO approach?
Site Engine Optimisation (SEO) is simply about labelling website pages so that Google knows what they contain and if they are the best answer to the questions that our customers ask. There are several ways we can organically optimise a page before we make a start on investing in something like Google Ad words. As part of your planning and content creation, have you thought about your SEO approach? What keywords are most relevant for your small business, and you should focus on?
Tip: To understand more about SEO, please click HERE to read one of our guest articles from our associate Kittie Walker from Sero Digital.
7. How will you promote your website?
This is a great question. Once you have built your website, what next? How are you going to tell people about it? I find that once my clients have a website they are proud of, then they are more likely to do this, if they are not happy with their website then they tend not to talk about it. Of course there are many ways we can market our business and that is the next part of the puzzle, hopefully you have completed your marketing strategy, so you can be making a start on building your marketing channels ready for when the website is complete.
Tip: Want to read more about how to promote your website? Read one of our latest articles “Small Business Marketing Tips on a budget”, HERE.
8. Final Thoughts
There are lots of things to consider with your website design, we have covered some of the key things above, but we wanted with a few final thoughts to consider:
- Who will build your website?
- What available budget do you have to invest in the project?
- How often will you/ do you need to update your website?
- Who will update your website and create original content, eg: blogs, SM, etc?
- What hosting do you need?
- Do include client testimonials to help build the know, like and trust model.
- Is your website mobile responsive eg: it can adapt to feature on different devices.
- Don’t forget to set up an email sign up function.
- Don’t forget to link your website to your social media channels.
- Don’t forget to install a tool to help you measure how your website is performing eg: Google Analytics.
If you would like some help in creating your marketing strategy to help define the direction of your website project or would like us to support you through the process, please get in touch.