In today’s digital world, every business needs a good digitial presence. When it comes to your website, what defines ‘good’ may be subjective to the user as well as the industry. But one thing that defines all good websites is its efficiency. How well it’s built, maintained and easily navigated should be the focus of every entrepreneur looking to take their business online.
Building a website isn’t easy; there’s plenty you need to think about to make sure users not only find your website but navigate through it with speed and efficiency. We have highlighted ten things for you to consider when building your website:
Before you begin to build your website, you need to look at where you will host it. There are a variety of options available, some more suitable than others depending on your website needs and budget. Keep in mind that website hosting will be an ongoing cost to factor in.
Common Hosting Types
Your website will be hosted on a server with potentially hundreds or thousands of other websites where the resources available for all sites will be shared.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Your website would sit on a physical server with other websites, although each site will have their own dedicated resources available to them.
You will have your own dedicated server for your website, offering full flexibility on the set up of the server itself, but would require knowledge of setting up and maintaining a server.
2. Custom Vs Website Builder
Next, consider HOW you will build your website. Do you need a template site via a drag and drop builder or do you require a bespoke website build? Drag and drop builders may be the better option if you are looking to build your own website with little minimal development knowledge required, yet in most cases will lack in efficiency, speed or functionality when compared to a bespoke build.
Think carefully not only about what you need now but how you will need to adapt your digital presence in the future.
3. Website Domain
You may think creating a domain is easy since it would ideally be your business name but what happens if somebody already owns the domain you want? You do have some options.
Your domain should be easy to remember and relevant to your business. The first step could be to look at the TLD (top level domain). This is the .com or .co.uk at the end of URLs. Not all are available to businesses. For example .org is only available to organisations, .net is from Microsoft and .gov is only available to the government. But there are still options available; instead of .com, use .co.uk (or the equivalent of your country). Blog type websites can also use .blog depending on who is hosting the site.
What will you be using your website for and what content will you need to have on the site? Consider this BEFORE designing your site. An eCommerce site will look particularly different to a blogging site. That’s not to say an eCommerce site cannot have blogs, or a blog can’t have any sort of eCommerce, but the focus or main content on your site will determine its final design.
Gear your website up to the content you want to focus on and fit anything else around that.
Does your design, colour palette etc appeal to your target audience? Websites geared towards the funeral sector, for example, might want to steer away from bright colours. Ensure all images and logos are within a specific theme and use a specific colour palette.
Is your website easy to look at and read? Depending on your business, content that has too many words can make it harder to read, especially if it isn’t formatted correctly. Are menus clear? Are social links easily found as well as contact information? Can users easily navigate through your site without experiencing issues or getting “lost”?
6. User experience
Once you’ve determined that your design works, you need to take on board the user experience. This can mean following the user’s actions by testing the website out with trusted volunteers, or by doing it yourself as though you were a user.
What’s important to consider here is the device which a user will be using to visit your website. More and more people are now accessing websites from their smartphones. Without an app, a website will be viewed on the phone or other mobile device’s browser. If your website has not been optimised for other devices, this can impact its appearance, load speed and overall user experience. Users don’t tend to wait longer than a few seconds for a page to load and if the website is too complicated to navigate, not formatted correctly, or is sized incorrectly, they will leave before engaging with anything on your site. Make sure your entire site if optimised for other devices, especially mobiles. This is even more important if your target audience is part of the demographic that is more likely to use mobiles to view your site.
SEO is one of the most important aspects of your website to get it seen online. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, so making sure your website is SEO friendly will increase its chances of appearing higher in search results and therefore, seen by more people.
To make your website SEO friendly, it’s important to make sure it is user friendly (this ties back to the previous point on user experience). You can also ensure that your content is SEO friendly, too. This means making sure content is relevant to your industry, using keywords, ensuring posts aren’t too long/too short and making sure nothing is duplicated
Once you have your website up and running, you need to think about how you are going to maintain it.
Plugins and other add-ons, or just the site used to host yours, will often need updating. It is important that you keep on top of this, as out of date servers/plugins can negatively affect your site. It can become slower or stop working altogether. You also need to check that the update has worked as it should as occasionally these may break the site too.
Maintenance also covers checking links still work, content is still relevant, and the page speed is as it should be.
9. Call to action
Calls to action are important. eCommerce sites are going to want people to purchase products. Make sure buying options are clear and all the details of the products and stock are available. You should also make it an easy path to get from the product page to checkout.
Blogging and similar sites, on the other hand, will need different calls to action. Joining a mailing list, sharing a post, enrolling in a course. The user needs to be able to clearly understand what it is you want them to do, even if it is as simple as reading your content.
10. Bringing People Back
You want users to visit you more than once! Keep the conversation going once they leave your site.
Is it obvious where the user can find you? Do you have the address/phone number of your physical store? Can they find you on social media (and are links visible to them)? Making this information readily available makes it easier for your user to engage with you online and return to your site another time.
Having the option to opt-in to a mailing list is also a great way to stay in touch with your potential customers.
Whether you are taking your business online for the first time or optimising your existing digital presence, considering each of these things as part of a bigger picture will ensure you stand out in today’s digital world.