Your business website needs to be an effective platform and successful marketing tool. It should provide you with an elevated setting for you to clearly get your message out there. It should engage and inspire your audience. It should not only be your online office space and store, but also an active part of your marketing team.
Okay, there are a lot of “shoulds” in there. Whether you are having a new site designed for a new business, or a redesign for your existing business, here are some key points for you to have clearly mapped out to help your business’ site accomplish these “shoulds.”
Of course professional presentation is a given. The design and layout of your site should be attractive, contemporary and clear. Take a look at a lot of other websites to kind of get a good idea of what you think works and what doesn’t work.
The “Less is More” concept is more true now than ever before. Brevity is increasingly more attractive to the masses searching and using the web. Make your static information pages brief and concise. Don’t burry anyone in details and mountains of facts. Inspire the reader with headlines and bullet points and then present the action you want them to take.
Activity – Your Blog
Use your blog to build the bulk of your website’s content. The reason for this is because the blog is dialogue. It’s not just someone telling the visitors what they should know. It’s engaging. It’s entertaining. It’s topical and relevant. This activity is attractive to Google. This is where you want to develop your site’s content as well as you and your business’ role as an authority in your field. That’s crucial.
Interactivity – The Discussion
Enable the comments on your blog. Invite and ask for your reader’s input. Best case scenario, you want interesting, informative and engaging conversations to build and develop. This is how you connect with the people you’re selling to. This is how you know how to serve them better and guide your company’s future in a successful direction.
If you’re selling products and/or services and collecting money for said items on your website, you want it to be as easy as possible for the buyer, while making it safe and secure.
Some ecommerce setups require your customers to set up an account on your site. This can be good for you because it will allow you to easily stay in contact with people who have already given you their money at least once.
On the flip side, requiring someone to set up an account can add more to the checkout process than some customers are comfortable with. Just be aware of this and decide what you think would work best for your site.
There are too many ecommerce solutions, gateways, software packages, merchant accounts and other issues to go into here. That could be a series in itself. That being said, PayPal is a simple and trusted way for a starting business to go. Companies that sell in high volume and high dollar amounts may find that a more traditional merchant account and payment gateway like Authorize.net might be a more cost effective way to go.
Your site should be developed with a Content Management System (CMS). This allows assigned users the ability to add, edit and manage the site’s content including the blog.
I can’t recommend WordPress enough for this. In my experience it is the most effective CMS out there for 99% of business needs.
As far as WordPress themes, I recommend StudioPress (affiliate link) themes. For your business you want to make sure your site is developed with good, strong coding, solid security, powerful SEO potential and have quick and effective customer support. Again, StudioPress.
Reliable hosting is crucial. Give this the attention it deserves. To ignore the importance of good hosting would be like building a beautiful multi-million dollar home in quick sand. (okay, I guess that would be technically impossible to do, but you get the idea)
I recommend HostGator.com (affiliate link) for this. I’ve used them for over 6 years for all of my clients’ and my own sites. They keep their servers and software up to date. Their uptime and customer support is excellent.
These key points should get you started in mapping out the development of your website. Each business will have unique needs and concerns that need to be addressed, but if you start by focusing on these issues it can save you a lot of time and money in the development of your successful online presence.
How About You?
Any other things you can think of? Got any good or bad (even more entertaining!) stories you’d like to share that might provide insights to the process?