Whatever the size of your company, a website is an essential part of your business. However, having an aesthetically pleasing site is no longer enough — it needs to work for you by attracting sales and driving your company forward in the future.
Most small businesses do not have huge budgets to spend on their websites, but focusing on some fundamental principles when developing and managing your site will yield a good return on the investment. Here are some steps that will help your website yield some results.
Remember that your site is a business tool, and while good design is a primary feature, it's main focus should be being business-led. Current and potential customers, most of the time, engage with a company via their website first. You should use the mentality that it is a showcase of your business. Consistent branding and developing starts with your website — and is then carried on through marketing etc.
You may be happy with your website at the beginning, but like anything, it’s important to go over it regularly to ensure that it still meets your needs and your customers. If your website has been up and running for several years, it’s difficult to remain a modern design and style, so it can be helpful to get some opinions from outside sources who can bring new eyes to the website.
People have short attention spans, and they will quickly leave a site that doesn’t capture their attention within the first few seconds — and that’s where you need quality design. Thanks to faster broadband speeds as well as improved software, website design has evolved massively. Images can now be bigger and better while still performing well, and are a crucial part of establishing as well as reinforcing your branding. Great design is also another way that you can differentiate yourself from competition, so ensure your site looks attractive but professional, as well as functional. This will help to increase visitors and new business to your company.
A website should be continually developing and updating. Unfortunately, many people tend to think of their website as a finished project the first time it gets made, not taking advantage of the fact that a site should be regularly updated by removing and adding up-to-date content. This can be done by blog writing, adding and creating links to and from your website. This is important because search engines are attracted to active sites, so this will mean that you will rank high in search engine results. However, there is a skill to writing content that makes use of the most popular essential search phrases on Google.
When people look for products or services online, they will use a search engine, like google or bing, so it’s crucial that your site is picked up by them in the results. Smaller companies might believe that only larger businesses can achieve page one of Google’s listings, but any company can rank highly if they use the right techniques and use the relevant keywords. However, the process is complicated because search engines are continually changing and updating, which means that SEO (search engine optimisation) needs to be an ongoing process. It also helps to do off-site optimisation which involves linking to and from other sites on the web, carrying out social media marketing plans and creating blogs all enhance your site’s overall online influence.
It’s best to have a clear strategy when marketing all aspects of your business — and marketing your website should be no different. The internet is fundamentally demand-led, with SEO and other forms of web marketing such as Google Adwords. This means that people who are searching for your product or service will be directed towards your site more than others, so you get more for your money on the internet than advertising in a magazine. Also, companies are faced with new strategies for web marketing which includes social media and pay-per-click, some of which they may be unfamiliar with.
Make sure you are mobile friendly. The popularity of smartphones and tablets has risen massively and will continue to increase in the future. So it’s important to bear this in mind when setting up your site. Having a mobile-friendly website is increasingly necessary, and a site that is easily accessible for mobile users is likely to increase sales. This is a whole different topic in itself, but a mobile site should be built around the existing website, carrying through the same consistency of the brand identity.
You would have done the hard part already, creating an attractive, functioning website that can be found on search results and stands out from the competition, so make sure you take the final step and encourage the visitors to interact with your site. Include and highlight plenty of calls to action throughout your website like contact forms and popups. Adding a “phone us” or “email us” or “click here” buttons or call to actions is a simple and amazingly effective way of gaining business.
The good news is that, no matter what your business size is, you can create a well-optimised and effective website with a limited budget if you follow these fundamental principles.