A functional and well designed website can be one of the most critical factors in building an interface with your customers, suppliers, partners – and potentially investors. Below is how you can create an effective online presence:
- Understand the purpose of your Website: Start by determining the purpose of your website. Generally, company websites are a platform to share company’s story – giving visitors a general overview and tour of the products/services. Alternatively, it could also be to generate online sales, where you would create an e-commerce gateway for customers to directly make purchases. Remember that even if you decide to start with a basic/static website you can always upgrade your offer at a later stage.
- Decide your Domain Name: The is the URL you will be sharing with your visitors, so it needs to be catchy and something that they will remember. Key insight here, keep it short, concise and free of complicated abbrevations. Very often, it is the case that the domains ending with ‘.com’ have already been registered and you would need to work with alternatives such as ‘.net’ or ‘.co’. This step involves careful research and planning – invest some time in coming up with a suitable domain for your business. It is also worth consulting an IT expert at this stage to ensure that you aren’t using a domain name that has already been copyright by someone else.
- Select your Web host: After you’ve decided on your domain name, you will need to choose a web host. Your choice of website host will depend in part on the software you choose but also on the speed and number of visits you expect to receive. With some companies, you can start off with less expensive but less powerful share hosting services, if required, you can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting. This option is something you should consider when choosing a host, even if you start with less expensive option. Another consideration, particularly if you are setting up your website yourself, if whether your host provides for automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Most of the popular hosting services will enable you to do this with the click of a button. And in most cases you can use the same host for more than one website. If you are doing it yourself, the host’s support services should be an important consideration. While few, if any, will support the software, the hosting application related issues can be complicated.
- Choose a Web Content Management System: A web content management system is a software that allows you to create and manage your website content, without the need to have detailed programming knowledge. A basic software would allow you to upload information, edit content and manage participation. The primary advantages of using a web content management system are that it is accessible at a low cost and is fairly easy to use. There are several options available today – varying based on your need. Popular ones WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and so on.
- Select a pre-made design template: A simple way to get a ready template would be to purchase it online or choose from the free templates already available and ready to use. Think from a visitor’s point of view What would they be looking for when they first visit your website? What is the first impression you want to leave on their mind? Select one theme and stick with that throughout the website. Your website should be simple, consistent and easy to navigate. If there’s too much going on, it could be a distraction to visitors. The navigation should be intuitive and not too complex. Having a lot of unnecessary images and links can turn off visitors. Lastly, don’t make frequent design changes on your website: let users build familiarity with your web portal, remember it and revisit it in the future.
- Update the Content, Content is the King: What you’re saying to your audience is of paramount significance as this directly impacts their interests in your page. Ensure that the information you are sharing on your page is relevant to your audience and more importantly a good indication of your brand value. Have a content strategy in mind – (4 easy steps)
- How often does the website need to be updated – weekly or monthly or bi-yearly.
- Who is responsible for managing all the online activity?
- Who is your target audience?
- How is your brand positioned in the market and how can you reinforce this with your website?
- Setup a Payment System/Gateway: While this step won’t apply to all business websites, companies that want to offer the option to pay online will need to integrate electronic payment systems into their websites. The easiest way to do this is through e-commerce software or third-party payment processors, often called gateways. Some web hsts offer an in-house option for e-commerce integratuon but not all do. So if you hav e to choose one on your own, be sure to do your own research. PayPal, is a popular and cost-effective option to facilitate easy payments.
- Ensure Compatibility: It’s imperative to ensure that your company’s website is compatible with all mobile devices and browsers and also platforms. Not only does this enable quick and easy access, but it offers your customers and enjoyable viewing experience. Compatibility means that your website is completely optimized to work on a mobile device. This includes design changes; does it fit on a mobile screen? Also, interface changes; making information accessible in a click of two versus a comprehensive options menu.
- Promote your Website: It’s surprising how many businesses forget to promote their website. It should be prominent across all your marketing activities. This could include business cards, brochures, emails and social media. Basically anywhere you have your business logo, your URL should be there too. Implement SEO strategy to drive traffic to your website and to rank high on search engines. There is also the option to use Google Adsense, which will show Google ads on your website. Of course, don’t forget to supplement these activities with a solid social media campaign – targeting your fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review your Website: Once your website is up and running, it’s time to check how well you did! Simple tools like Google Analytics can help you get feedback on what areas if your website work and those that don’t. It also gives you insights on your demographics, page views, returning visitors, time spent on each page and so on. Regular discussions with your web developer on these analytics is truly time well spent. Remember that having a website just for the sake of it is as good as not having one. Take time out to review the working of your website and it can work wonders for your business.
Finally, it is very easy to overthink and complicate things when building your website. So try to keep it as simple as possible. Your website should give your visitors a clear depiction of who you are as a company and leave them with one solid call-to-action. Have is as user-friendly as possible and think about user-journey as if you were your own customer/visitor.
For an entrepreneur or small business owner, a website is a great boon – an easy, cost-effective and efficient platform to communicate with a mass audience! Therefore, it’s only fair that you give sufficient attention and time to ensure that you are making the most out of it. DO NOT FORGET how Social Media can be beneficial in the whole process, historically and currently it has seen, working charm for a lot of businesses.