Every business needs a business website these days or you run the risk that no one will take you seriously. Unfortunately, the other 30 million small businesses in the US alone also put up websites.
That means you can’t phone it in when you set up your business website. A hum-drum site will leave your current and potential customers cold. Your site must rise above the middle-of-road and deliver an experience that your customers love.
If building websites isn’t a part of your skill set, though, where do you start? How do you follow through?
Keep reading and we’ll give you some tips for setting up a stellar website that shows your company in the best light.
There are a couple of preliminaries you must handle before you get into the process of building your actual website. Securing a domain name tops the list. In most cases, you select a domain name as close to your business or brand name as possible.
Businesses with long or difficult to spell sometimes look for domain names that correspond with an acronym of the business name. Let’s say, for example, that you own a business named Hunzinger and Sons Pharmaceuticals. The domain name HSP.com will prove easier to remember than almost any other likely variant.
Next up, you must deal with hosting. Smaller businesses sometimes use one of the big name third-party hosting services. Others opt for an in-house server or use a cloud VPS for businesses.
Content Management Systems Vs Custom-Built Site
Once you wrap up the preliminaries, you must decide whether you’ll go with a content management system or custom website. Each approach creates a unique set of pros and cons.
CMSs like WordPress or Joomla tend toward user-friendliness. That means that most employees can figure out the essentials without needing extensive training.
The big CMS systems also enjoy strong, ongoing security support from developers. You get that support in regular updates.
New or extended functionality comes from plugins or themes you get from libraries or developers who specialize in them. That makes modifications based on user feedback comparatively simple.
What you really give up with a basic CMS is flexibility in getting exactly what you want. These systems rely on a level of uniformity.
The big advantage of custom-built sites is that you can get precisely what you want, right down to the tiniest detail. The price for that level of customization is the development and approval process can last for months. It also means you need custom solutions for almost any changes on the site.
You get a finite level of security support. Many site developers will provide you six months or a year of updates, but you must pay for any support beyond that date.
Regardless of whether you pick a CMS or custom site, your site must embrace responsive design. Responsive design is a programming approach that lets a site reorganize content based on the size of the visitor’s screen. If visitors can’t navigate your site easily on their phones, they’ll hate your site.
Given that around half of consumer traffic over the Internet goes through phones or other mobile devices, it’s a necessity. Beyond that, search engines now use mobile-readiness as one of the big factors in site rank.
Content management systems typically achieve responsive design through themes or templates. Themes and templates define how your site looks, so it’s the natural place for responsive design.
On a custom-built site, responsive design must go into the site code from the ground up.
Good websites always provide visitors with a certain amount of information. At the very least, your site needs the following pages:
- Home Page
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Product or Services
Pay special attention when you put together your Contact Us page. Make sure you include all the relevant information, such as phone number, email address, and a physical address. In fact, you’ll be better off if you list some contact information, such as an address, email, or phone number on every page
Optional pages you should consider include FAQ, Sitemap, and Careers page if they apply to your business.
Visitors routinely look for these kinds of pages on websites. You risk annoying them if you don’t construct at least basic versions of all of these pages.
Making navigation difficult on your site is a fast way for you to drive off visitors and annoy customers. For many companies, striking the right balance with navigation often proves one of the biggest challenges.
Remember that list of pages in the last section? Links for each of them should be readily visible in your menu. Those pages contain the information most customers will look for on arrival.
Do your customers log in for access to order information? Make sure you provide a customer login option on every page or a login link on every page.
Don’t overdo the dropdown menus. Stick with broad service or product categories. You always do a more in-depth breakdown of options on individual pages.
Much like you need a website, most companies maintain profiles or pages on at least one of the big social media sites. Provide links out to those profiles so your customers can visit and even interact with your business.
Make sure you enable or code in social media sharing buttons for your blog posts. If you develop good content, visitors will share it. Make sharing easy and more people will do it.
Parting Thoughts on Building a Business Website
You can build a business website that your customers will love. It’s mostly about including the things that everyone looks for and making it easy for them to find that content. A good rule of thumb is for you to ask yourself:
Would I like this website/layout/feature if I didn’t own the site? If you answer no, it’s time for an overhaul.
Now that you know how you can build the right kind of website, do you want other tips on making sure your business is successful? Check out our post on saving time and money on accounting.