In the digital world, we live in, having a website is a necessity. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, there’s no excuse anymore to not have a digital homepage for your business, no matter how small it is. Consumers these days look up a business online before choosing whether or not to dedicate their money to a brand. They will expect to find you online and be able to learn about who you are, what you offer, and why they should choose your brand over another. So, how do you create a successful website for your business? What are the non-negotiable aspects that you should be looking into? Today, we will be looking at what it takes to develop a website that will help your business be represented properly online.
Determine What You Want
First things first, take some time to sit down and work out what you want from your website. Take a look at your brand and consider how you would like it to be represented online. If you have read our blog on developing a brand and a corporate identity, you can use this information to consider what kind of website you need. If you are looking to sell items through your website, this needs to be taken into account, and similarly, if you merely want to use it for a visual information centre for your brand, this will change the way your website will be formed. Write down what kind of look and feel you are looking for, what pages you would like to have on the website, and how simple or complex you would like the site to be. Now you can move on to developing your website.
Register your Domain Name
A unique domain name is the first step to making sure that consumers can find you online with ease. Ideally, this domain name should be short, simple, and as close to your brand’s name as possible. For example, we use the simple clean domain of www.g2design.com. This domain name can also be used for your email address, instead of a free service like Gmail, which adds a level of professionalism to your brand. Contact G2Design to register your domain name.
Choose a Web Hosting Company
A host is an online storage space for your website’s content – i.e. when someone searches for your domain name, your browser pulls your website content from the web host. Depending on how many visitors you expect to have, the type of website host will differ.
There are four main types of hosts:
- Shared Hosting: Sharing a server with many other websites.
- VPS Hosting: Sharing a server with some websites, but with the ability to handle more visitors.
- Dedicated Housing: Having your own server dedicated to your website (this is mainly used by very large websites).
- Free Housing: This is used by most online website builders and is managed by those sites.
For a standard website build, shared hosting is perfectly fine to start off with in order to work out how many visitors you receive. You can, of course, upgrade to VPS hosting at a later stage if necessary.
If you don’t have the ability or the budget to get a website built from scratch there are plenty of website builders available online that are incredibly easy for anyone, even someone with no experience at all, to build a professional website – and web hosting is often included.
Ask yourself: what kind of website do you need for your business? Do you need a design-orientated website or something much simpler? Do you need to be able to update the website yourself, or will someone with experience be working on it? What exactly are you going to be putting on your website and what pages do you need?
When you have defined what kind of website you are looking for, G2Design is involved with the entire process to help you dominate your digital space. From registering your domain, to web design and development, as well as website maintenance!
Build your Pages & Prepare Content
A good website has several pages that make it easy for your customers to find the information they want. Each page should be a supporting part of the overall goal of your website – whether it is an online store or a visual lookbook for your brand. Plan out what pages your brand needs, and make sure that all of these pages have a call to action that will direct consumers to engage further with your brand (e.g. newsletter sign up, contact us, buy now etc.). Probably the most important page on your site is your contact page, which should include as much information as possible regarding how customers can keep in touch with your brand. This includes all your social media links, email address, physical address (if necessary), and phone number(s).
Next, you need to prepare the content for your website. This information will also stem from your corporate identity and branding, as your site needs to be clear about what your business is about. Prepare content in a brand voice that fits in with your image, and explains to the consumer what they can expect from you. Alongside the written copy, take time to produce quality visual content as well. Avoid stock photos or badly edited images, and spend time producing high-quality photos and branding that aligns with your corporate identity.
This is also the time to set up a payment system if applicable to your site and make sure to research the best kind of eCommerce program for your site.
Build and Test Your Site
While designing and building your website, we keep in mind a few things:
- What information and functionality the website should have
- Mobile responsiveness
- User-experience to make it easy for website visitors to find the information they are looking for
- Best coding practice and standards
- Website security
- Basic SEO
- Website analytics
- How easy it should be to update the website content
Once your site has been built, we test it before we publish it for public use. It’s cardinal that the website fully functions on multiple browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox; that all the links are working; images are downloading; the layout is as it should be. Then it is time to advertise your website’s launch and publish your site!
Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!
Now that your website is live, make sure to market it! Your website is your brand home and all your social media platforms should be directing the consumer toward it. For more information about how to make the most out your digital space, take a look at our blog on Claiming Your Digital Space.
Don’t Forget about It
Now that your website is live, you can’t just leave it alone! Keep your site updated regularly, whether you keep a blog running or simply update images generally, make sure that everything on the site is as up to date as possible. Check up on your analytics regularly and take note of areas on the site that are not performing as they should and change them up accordingly.
Building a website is a lot of work, but in the end, it is the most important tool for representing your brand online. Websites are flexible and adaptable and can grow with your brand. If you have any questions about website design and development, web maintenance, web analytics or advertising your website on social media channels, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org