Having a website is absolutely essential in starting your own online business. However, having a website where you list and sell your products and services doesn’t always mean building your own website. Today’s internet provides for multiple ways to get in front of your audience and convince them to buy. Whether you build a custom-made website on the back end of Wordpress, use a drag and drop service like Wix or Squarespace, or you simply list your products for sale on websites like Craigslist or eBay, you too can get your business up and running online!
Identify your goals
What exactly are you trying to accomplish with your website? More awareness among potential customers? A place to share your company’s story? Selling your products/services in a different way? Depending on your answer, the domain name you choose can change. The logo could change. Perhaps your tagline and overall style will change. Whatever you choose, make sure you are open to changing the way you do things offline in order to achieve your goals online.
Clear site navigation and architecture
A clear path for your website visitors to find information is extremely important. If your navigation is clunky or incorrect, not only will potential customers leave more often and/or faster, but your website will not rank as well on the search engines. Yes, today’s search engines are so advanced that they don’t only look at the links and text on your website, but they consider the usability of the site as well when ranking.
Craft the perfect home page
When someone lands on your website, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention and entice them to stay. Getting them to stay is key when getting them to convert on whatever the goal of your website is. Want them to learn more about you? Help them find your “About Us” page. Want them to contact you? Provide them with a link to your “Contact” page, or add a contact form right on the home page. Want them to buy your product? Send them to an informational page about the product itself or industries in need of your product.
Clear & visible call to action
Just like we discussed in the home page section, providing clear and visible calls to action will better help direct your customer through your sales funnel. By providing various links and buttons to other parts of your website, not only will your search results increase, but will increase a visitor’s time on the website. By spending more time on your website, that visitor is more likely to convert and contact you/buy your product.
It isn’t a surprise that most people now have a smartphone they use in their everyday life. Because of this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a majority of websites accessed are done so by way of mobile browser. Search engines like Google prioritize websites in the search results, in large part by their mobile friendliness and simple-to-use interface. When building your website, regardless of the platform you use, make sure you build a “responsive” website. A responsive design is one that will look great regardless if it is on a desktop or mobile screen -- a win win!
Why an ‘About Us’ Page is Important
Your customer base is completely dependent on the products and services your company provides. WRONG. Your customer base can also be dependent on who YOU are as a company, not just what you sell or provide. Humanizing your business through story is a great way to turn your one-time customers into repeat customers for years to come. So, when it comes to building your website, make sure you prioritize letting your customers know exactly who you are and why you are on their side.
Content is king
Another factor that goes into creating a well performing website, is the quality of the content on your website itself. When someone visits your website they expect to read and/or view information that is both relevant to their search, and something that they gain value from. The more helpful information you provide, the more you will be perceived as an “Expert”, and therefore people will be more likely to buy, subscribe, or come back again in the future.
Excellent visual design
Just like content, the way your website looks is extremely important to a visitor. If your website looks like it is straight out of 2004, the visitor will more than likely think the information is old and outdated, even if it isn’t. So, with this in mind, make sure you find templates that are clean, modern, and responsive (mobile friendly).
Tracking of conversions
Converting your visitors into customers is the ultimate goal of your website. To do this, you first need to consider the metrics you will track so you know if your visitors are doing what you want them to do. For instance, for every $1 we spend in advertising, how many people see our ad? Of the people who see our ad, how many people click on the ad and visit our website? For those who clicked through to our website, how many of them stayed for one minute or longer? Five minutes or longer? Who reached our contact page, but didn’t send us a message? How many reached this point and did contact us? These are important things to track, and will help you develop better content, design, and offerings. Most website builders provide tracking tools, but they all aren’t the same. So, make sure you consider that when initially building your website!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about building a website? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state who provide free to low-cost assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Q: What’s the best website builder?
A: This depends entirely on your needs. If you have technical skills and can program your own, maybe a custom coded website will be better for you. Maybe you have the budget for a custom coded website but don’t have a lengthy timeline to get the website published. If this is the case, perhaps a drag and drop website will get you by for a few months. This will give you time to get your footing in the search results, and test out user experiences on a more inexpensive website before committing to a custom coded one.
Q: Will I be limited in what I can do with each of these website builders?
A: Every builder will have its limitations, even custom coded ones! Builders may limit how detailed your edits can be, and custom coding a website depends entirely on your skills and/or your programmers skills. Before committing to any platform or hiring anyone, make sure you know what you want out of your website. This will save you both time and money during development.
Q: How do I know if my website is the best it can be?
A: The best way to determine if your website is the best it can be (currently), is to see how your customers interact with it. There are plenty of tools out there, like HotJar, that track in real-time where website visitors are clicking, where their eyes are looking, how long they are hovering over certain text boxes, and more. You can additionally see how well it is performing by way of SEO. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console help web developers understand for free how their site ranks compared to the competition.