5 Steps in Building a Successful Small Business Website
A website is a necessity for businesses of all sizes and anyone who sells products or services. It doesn’t matter what marketing methods you adopt, enabling potential buyers to find you via an online search is key to acquiring new customers.
It is obvious that your business needs a website; it helps you sell services or products and serves as an extension of your business card, providing information about your businesses and what you offer. It should also give readers details about your experience and any other credentials that give you credibility and make your potential customers feel confident in their decision to work with you.
It isn’t as hard as it may seem to create a small business website. You can take on the task yourself to make it budget-friendly or hire a Web developer to build it for you. From the beginning stages when you decide the purpose of your website to the finishing touches when you perform Internet explorer testing to check for browser bugs and functionality issues, utilize these five steps to make the process of creating a successful small business easier.
Decide the reason for your website
Your first step is to decide what you want your website to accomplish. You want to figure out how to reach busy consumers. So will the purpose of your website be to give potential customers more information about your services online? Or to provide articles and information you’re written to help your potential clients? There are many reasons why every business needs a blog, so you might decide to start one to engage your customers. You may sell products and services directly online.
Know the plan behind your website because this will guide you on how to develop it. Remember that it’s okay if you start your website without online sales or a blog. These are things that can be added later, but consider how you will eventually use your website as you design it.
Choose your web content management software
Based on what you plan to do with your website, you have a variety of options in software. Many are free with minimal charges for add-ons. You probably have no idea how many of the websites you visit that use one of these solutions.
If the main purpose of your website is e-commerce, select software specifically designed for e-commerce. If e-commerce is a small part of your website’s purpose, you can get free or inexpensive add-ons that work with the most popular free content management software such as Joomla! and WordPress.
Joomla! Is a free content management software that gives users flexibility, but the structure of your website will be limited. The templates available are extensive and there are countless add-ons which give you a good amount of functionality for your website with little effort. Many are free and paid versions can cost anywhere from around $20 to $200.
The idea of Joomla is to avoid needing to code a website from scratch. It enables easy changes and updates — something the average small business owner could typically handle on their own. It is time-consuming to install and set up Joomla, but a Web developer with Joomla experience could easily speed the process along.
WordPress is like Joomla — it’s a user-friendly content management system that uses templates to give it different looks and add-ons for additional functionality. One difference with WordPress is that its core design is a blog. You can use it like Joomla with regular WebPages, but its homepage can be set up as a simple-to-use blog with the features of many blogs you read. As with Joomla, you might want to hire a Web developer to do the initial setup for you.
Choose a web host
Once you make a decision about which software to use, you need to choose a Web host. This is the location where your website and software will be held and made available to visitors. Make your decision based on the software you choose and also the speed and number of visits you expect to receive. Some small businesses initially go with less expensive and less powerful shared hosting services and upgrade to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting if necessary.
Also consider whether your host provides automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Many popular hosting services enable you to do this with a simple click of a button.
Choose a template and plug-in for your website
After you have selected your software and chosen a host, you need to think about other features. You can pick from hundreds of templates that give your website the look and feel that you would like. Some templates are pretty simple while others are themed to a type of product or services or have built-in features that may make it more aesthetically appealing to you.
Free templates are readily available, but you may want to spend a small amount of money for a premium template to get what you really want.
Organize your website
Think about what you want your website to look like and how you will use it. Consider your logo, the menu selections you want to have available to users and the information you want on each of those pages. Start with your menu and think carefully how you want to organize the information on your website to give you the most flexibility. If you have only three main menu selections initially, consider what you may add down the road so your original design can accommodate it.
Your website also needs content. It must welcome visitors and convey the right kind of message so your visitors read it and don’t leave your site for a different one.
You also should to include images. Since your website likely has a template with background images or visual elements, other graphics and images are typically used as a supplement to the text or to replace it. It’s essential to make pages look professional. You want to make a visual impact so avoid using clipart and considering hiring help.
Maintain your website
Regular website maintenance will keep your site running smoothly. You want to make sure things on the site are all in working order and none of the links are broken. Many visitors look at the site to see what is new. It’s simple to add content and blog entries to give your visitors new and exciting information.
A successful business website isn’t built in a day. Think of your business website as smart investment, one that’s well worth your time and energy. Design it to meet your business needs and it will become a moneymaker that keeps your visitors engaged, clicking and bringing in revenue.