Things to ask yourself before you start a website design project
Many people I speak with often to tell me, “The website I made for my business isn’t doing anything, I expected much different results.”
There needs to be a plan in place before you start building a business website. You want a website that looks professional, generates leads and sales, attracts visitors to it, provides information, and guides visitors to do what you want them to do. To create a business website that works, look at your site design (or your plans for one) and ask yourself these questions.
Do you understand the primary components needed to create a successful website?
Some people confuse “Design” as being just the appearance or the visual properties of a website. Although it’s very important for a business website to look professional, a properly designed site will incorporate many components geared to encourage people to do business with you. The following questions will help break them down for you.
Does the appearance of your website present you as a professional?
Search engines will send visitors to a well “designed” website, because a well thought out design plan will incorporate components such as, Search Engine Optimization, to help the website get found. In many cases, your website will be the first company representative that people will meet. It’s important to send a message of professionalism. Some cookie-cutter website templates and/or home-made websites stand out like sore thumbs, and do nothing to encourage anyone to do business with you. Unless you are an experienced website designer, you should hire one to design a website for your company.
Does your website provide “real” optimized content?
The endless sales pitch approach is vastly overdone and an instant turn-off for visitors. People visit your website to see information about your business, and your products and/or services. They are already interested. So provide more relevant, additional content for them.
For instance, if you are an accounting firm, provide additional information on keeping records or tax tips. Value-added content goes a long way. If you provide building supplies, provide not only detailed information on your product lines, but how-to information on installation.
In addition, content has to be optimized for search engines.
Does your website make it easy for people to do business with you?
Somewhere on your website, you need to have a page that has your full contact information, including your mailing address and your phone number(s). It's not good enough to just have an e-mail address, especially one that starts "webmaster@". Carrying contact information on every page is even better.
Does your website have strategic call-to-action items?
Having visitors actually do something when they get to your site is an effective marketing approach. Properly placing sign-up, register and subscription forms within your website’s pages is a good way to have visitors interact with your website and increase conversion rates.
There are many different types of call-to-action items. Take the time and research what is best for your business space.
Value + Relevance = More Conversions
If you are selling products on your website (ecommerce), do you provide adequate online payment options for your customers?
You may not start out selling products on your website, but you may in the near future. It’s a good idea to develop your website on a platform that allows for shopping cart integration without having to re-design the entire website. Upgrading to a shopping cart under the same URL also allows you to keep the forward momentum in search results. It’s a cleaner way of doing things. If you want people to buy your product, you have to make it easy for them. Invest in a good shopping cart, and make sure that you offer payment options such as credit cards and other online payment options, such as PayPal.
Have you addressed your visitor’s security concerns?
Customers are concerned about transmitting personal information, such as credit card numbers, over the Web. You need to not only have the appropriate technology (such as SSL) in place, but let your potential customers know about it, by putting your Secure Site certificates in prominent locations, and having a page that addresses your visitor's concerns, such as a FAQ.
Have you researched your SEO strategy?
A well thought out website design incorporates Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO will guide you to properly layout your message. SEO will also help you identify the best keywords that people are using when they search for your products or services via Google or Bing.
Now your site showcases your business, and the products or services you offer in a way that makes doing business with your company attractive. What's next? Signage; showing the prospective customer the path to your business website's door.
How do you show prospective customers the path to your business website's online door? Primarily through good search engine placement, which means spending time on search engine optimization.
SEO will also help you integrate social media into your website.
Does your small business website have adequate web hosting?
While there are some free web hosts out there, many visitors will turn up their nose at your site when they see that your business is using one. The assumption is that a quality business will have quality website hosting.
Most free hosting services do not allow you to use your own domain name
(www.yourcompany.com) so if your company name is Acme Inc. your website URL will be a subfolder of the provider-supplied domain name, e.g. www.freehosting.com/acme. Search engines will have a difficult time indexing your website, if not at all.
Using a free or 'inexpensive' web hosting service can also cause you problems because of excessive downtime; periods of time when no one can access your business website at all.
Making Sure You Create a Business Website That Works
The purpose of a business website is to provide your potential clients or customers who use the Internet access to your business, and make doing business with you, rather than someone else, an attractive proposition. If you can answer "yes" to the questions in this article, you have a site that will be well on its way to bringing in those leads and sales you want.