Our last article gave you insights on why all small businesses need to have websites has hopefully convinced you take the leap into website ownership. If not, go back and read through all of the different benefits that come with website ownership. It is important to embrace a digital presence as an important marketing strategy.
But unfortunately, making the decision to build your own website is only half the battle. Now, you’ve got to actually go about doing it!
And while you don’t need to be an expert coder or a technical genius to create a professional looking website, there are a few basic guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind. Pay attention to the following lists of “do’s and don’ts,” and you’ll set your new website up for success – now and in the future!
What to do when building your website:
- Work with the Sitebuilder tool and templates in order to minimize both cost and design experience needed
These days, you don’t need to hire a website developer or marketing agency to create a custom site for your small business. In nearly all cases, starting out with SiteBuilder and a good design template represents a much more cost-effective website creation solution that’ll help you to explore the world of web management before deciding whether or not it’s necessary to invest in a totally unique design.
To get started with a template website, sign up for a free trial of Homestead’s SiteBuilder tool. When you decide to go ahead with Homestead’s offerings, be sure to take a look at our Design Gallery to get a feel for all of the different styles and types of websites that can be built using this program. We’ve got thousands of designs in all sorts of industries, making it easy to find a template that will meet your business’s needs.
- Choose a template that suits your business’s personality
When choosing between the different designs that are available from Homestead’s SiteBuilder templates, take the time to carefully consider the industry and “personality” you want your site to convey.
For example, are you a forward-thinking, innovative startup, or are you a more traditional professional services firm? If you’re a young, modern company, your website design should reflect this in your choice of bold colors, contemporary fonts and innovative layouts. Or, if your business leans more towards the traditional, consider darker colors, serif fonts and layouts that convey a more professional feel.
- Make priority information easily available for customers
Once you’ve chosen a template, your first priority when crafting your website’s content should be to make priority information as easily accessible as possible. At this point, do your best to keep things simple. You don’t need to have all of the bells and whistles you can envision in place at your site’s launch – as you can always come back later to expand your site with advanced features like shopping carts, order status updates and more as your webmaster skills improve.
Instead, take a few moments to brainstorm what pieces of information your customers will first be looking for when they arrive on your site. A few examples of this priority information could include:
- Who you are
- What your business offers
- Why a customer should choose your products and/or services
- Your business hours
- Your business phone number
- Maps and directions
- Any current promotions your business is offering
Highlight the specific pieces of information that you believe will be of the most interest to your customers, and then look for ways to feature this content prominently on your new website.
- Allow for regular website updates
One final consideration to make when building your first business website is that nobody wants to land on a dead website! If it’s clear to visitors that your site hasn’t been updated in months, their estimation of your brand will diminish as a result.
The easiest way to do this is to integrate a blog or news section into your SiteBuilder website. Doing so provides you with an easy opportunity to add regular website updates without disrupting your main content. Adding new posts to this type of system helps to keep your website looking “fresh” and avoids turning off site visitors who would otherwise choose to engage with your brand. Again, keep in mind that you don’t need to have advanced features like a blog or a news section in place when you first open the doors to your new digital presence. Start with the simple priorities described above, but keep the importance of a feature that allows for regular updates in mind for future website revisions.
What not to do when building your website
- Pay tens of thousands of dollars for custom designs you don’t need
If you’re a small business owner contemplating the creation of your first website, it’s nearly impossible to know what kind of site will suit both your preferences and your customers’ needs the best. As a result, you could settle on a particular design style in your head – only to find out later on that the website you visualized in your mind doesn’t really resonate with customers. This isn’t a problem if you’ve kept your costs to a minimum and started out with a SiteBuilder template design that allows you to easily make changes and swap out underperforming elements with those that’ll work more effectively. It is, however, an issue if you’ve invested thousands of dollars into a custom design right off the bat. Instead, start small and remember that you can always upgrade as your webmaster skills develop.
- Turn your business website into a billboard
One of the biggest traps small business owners fall into when creating their first websites is to replicate their static marketing pieces on their sites – effectively turning them into digital bill boards.
Think about the websites you enjoy most. Chances are, the sites that stand out in your mind aren’t those that are composed of a few unchanging pages. Instead, the websites you remember are those that are packed full of engaging elements and interactive features, like social sharing tools, blogs and user review sections.
If you want your customers to love your new site, show them you care by turning your website into a thriving community on its own.
- Pack your site full of unnecessary bells and whistles
At the end of the day, your website serves a single purpose – to advance the growth of your business by reaching out to online customers. So while it’s very possible to pack your site full of all the latest interactive bells and whistles, these features may, in fact, wind up distracting website visitors from actually engaging with your business.
Instead of overwhelming consumers, take a step back and integrate only those features that provide some sort of measurable, tangible benefit to potential customers. As with clothing choices and accessories, less is more – for best results, try removing extraneous website features to see if your site’s performance improves.
Certainly, there’s more to running a successful website than following such a simple list of guidelines. However, by keeping these guiding principles in mind throughout the site creation process, you’ll provide your business with the foundation it needs to function effectively – and profitably – online!