Believe it or not, but nearly half of US businesses do not have a website and about one-third don’t even plan to develop one in the future. These are strange statistics considering how technologically advanced and highly connected the global economy has become. The internet has turned out to be so imperative to succeed that it would be entrepreneurial suicide for any private enterprise – large or small – to avoid setting up a website.
Whether you’re a startup of 3 that just launched last week or you’re a business of 300 that has been open for a long time, it is important to your bottom line to develop an online presence. Otherwise, you may risk a gradual exodus of your current customers, lag behind your competitors and lose out on an entirely new audience. This is a trifecta that will be the bane of your corporate endeavours.
There could be a diverse array of difficulties to establishing a digital outlet from scratch. From finding the right domain name to allocating your resources and maintaining the website, some firms may deduce that it’s just too complicated and time-consuming. This is simply untrue.
Let’s explore these seven tips for creating your first business website without the intricacy and stress.
1. Getting Down to the Tech Basics
You do not need to be fluent in SQL, know how to differentiate between a Virtual Private Server (VPS) and a Shared Web Hosting, or dedicate nearly all your available resources to your online pursuits. Yes, web design has dramatically changed since the days of You’ve Got Mail, but it has also become easier to create a business website from scratch.
The first thing your company must do, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, is locate the right hosting service provider. (A web host offers the services, technologies and tools necessary for the website and to be viewed on the internet.) You need a provider that features a sufficient amount of bandwidth, a price that suits your budget and a hosting package that proffers fast response times and impeccable security functions.
Another tech aspect is determining what content management system (CMS), which manages and facilitates the creation of digital content, to choose. The most popular brands are WordPress, Google Sites, Typepad, Joomla and Drupal, and they are free for most basic options but also offer premium packages.
2. Creating a Domain Name
A domain name is your website name, a digital address where online users can access your content. It may seem simple enough to make one, but coming up with the right domain name has become an artform – it also requires a little bit of luck; remember the person who sold insurance.com for $35.6 million?
So, how does your startup select a successful domain name?
- Keep it short, anywhere between 3 and 60 characters.
- Use keywords for search engine optimisation purposes.
- Target your area if you’re a small company operating in the neighbourhood.
- Never use numbers, hyphens or other special characters.
- Use an appropriate domain name extension, such as .com or .net; you can also experiment with new and related domains like .nyc, .shop or .realtor.
If you own the right domain, you have the opportunity to generate some online buzz almost right away.
3. Keeping Your Pages Uncluttered
There is an old expression that applies to web design: less is more. It was common in the early days of the internet to have websites crammed with unnecessary information, useless trinkets and tacky designs. Today’s crop of developers, equipped with the right tools and impressive experience, are more grounded.
When you’re in the beginning stages of setting up your first website, you’re generally excited. You want to pack it with too many details, stuff the entire webpage with keywords and install add-ons that will just turn away visitors. You’re like a kid in some kind of a store (Homer Simpson reference).
You need to keep in mind that it’s important to keep your pages uncluttered. Too much clutter can turn off users, hurt your SEO ranking and even negatively impact your brand’s reputation – you don’t want to be the butt of jokes on social media. Just add the essentials.
4. Making Your Website Mobile Responsive
Since 2016, mobile traffic has outpaced desktop traffic. Also, the number of mobile phone users worldwide is projected to surpass 5 billion by 2019. This is a remarkable feat and a telling statistic: more people are browsing the internet, purchasing items and tweeting pictures of their dinner on their smartphones and tablets than on their desktop computers.
Both the public and private sectors are paying attention to this finding because now they need to make their websites more mobile responsive, especially if they have not created an app. Not only is this a great move for your audience, it is also a superb technique to give your SEO a boost.
The key question: how do you make your website responsive to the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and BlackBerry? That’s simple: ensure your info is easy to find, skip Flash, use large font sizes and buttons, and insert the viewport meta tag (<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>). One last thing: regularly perform mobile tests.
5. Using the Power of Social Media
Social media has become an integral step in web design for several reasons: it attracts new eyeballs, it builds brand recognition and it gives your SEO efforts a little reward in the rankings. There really is no harm in setting up an account on major social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and maybe even Google+.
At every turn, you should encourage your visitors to follow you on a specified social network. Whether it is at the end of a blog post or on your ‘Contact Us’ page, you should typically persuade your users to hit the ‘Like’ button or follow your business on Twitter.
It must be noted, however, that you need to remain active on these accounts. An inactive one is just as bad as one that doesn’t exist at all. Even if you automate your postings, your brand should be posting daily. But if you want to kick it up a notch: engage with your followers, share industry news, spotlight company culture and show off your company’s personality. These are the best ways to enhance your social media presence.
6. Producing Original Content
Have you heard? Content is king. Without it, your firm can have a difficult time building awareness.
It is true that developing original content can be rather hard without a marketing team, the resources to hire a freelance creator or the time to advertise those blog posts or YouTube videos. That said, harnessing the power of original content is pertinent to building a website and making sure your digital arena garners attention.
Remember: you don’t need multimillion-dollar marketing budgets à la Coca-Cola or Geico to make content. With a little bit of creativity, a small amount of extra work and some luck, you can develop a blog post, a tweet or an infographic that goes viral. This is the dream for many businesses, but it can transform into a reality if you learn and instill excellent content management skills.
7. Adopting a CTA
It’s great that you have people visiting your page. Now what?
That’s a crucial question to answer. Do you want them to buy a product? Do you want your visitors to sign up for your monthly newsletter? Do you want your audience to subscribe to your YouTube channel?
This is where a call-to-action, or CTA, enters the conversation. A CTA is a marketing ploy to encourage your target market to respond through a requested action, whether it’s clicking a link in an email or referring your business to a friend to receive a 10% discount on their next order.
Like a domain name, the CTA is an artform that not everyone has mastered. Here are some tips to start:
- be clear and simple with your CTA
- use words that elicit an intended emotion, like a sense of urgency or excitement for a sale
- offer a reason why they should take action
- incorporate numbers into your CTA to drive home the point
- do the FOMO – try to have your CTA create the fear of missing out.
You don’t want to be like the 46% of US companies that don’t have a website. This is the way to connect to the world, generate new revenue streams and build your brand in the marketplace. Moreover, without an online page, you risk making your company appear boring and outdated, which is indeed the kiss of death in a market economy.
Whether your business is just starting out or your doors have been open since the first personal computer was sold in the 1990s, you need to enter the 21st Century and join the online party as soon as possible. The tools, technology and services are out there; it’s up to you if you want to use them.
Do you have any other essential tips for a business website? Let us know in the comments section!