So you’re just starting a new business; do you really need a website? The answer to this, in 2016, is 100% yes. But the real key is knowing what you need from a website for your brand new business!
There are so many functions that a website can fulfil, and so many different platforms, options, extensions, plugins and additional functionality that it can be really difficult to know where to start. Here are our top ten tips for putting together a website for your new start-up business.
1. Don’t think about the website just yet.
This may sound counter productive, but you’d be amazed at how many start-up businesses think about creating a website before they have even worked out the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the product or service that they are offering. You need to really get to grips with this first if you’re going to portray your ideas to a web designer and in turn to your ideal clients and customers.
2. Seek marketing advice.
Once you know exactly what service or product you’re going to be offering it’s vital that you start to think about a plan to reach your target audience. This is often something that your website consultant can help you with, but its a good idea to do some initial research and brainstorming first.
3. Create a plan.
Now you have some idea of how you’re going to market your new business and how best to reach your target audience you can begin to think about where a website would fit into this strategy. Maybe it will be the crux of your entire marketing plan when you’re planning to gain all your customers through the search engines, maybe you’re going to be raising awareness on social media and sending people to specific pages of your site, or maybe you’re going to be using your website to back up what you say to people when you meet them at networking and events. However your site needs to be used for the rest of your marketing, its important to ensure you think this through before starting to build and create a plan.
4. Speak to a professional.
There are a lot of site builders out there these days that allow you to ‘quickly and cheaply’ create a site of your own. The reality of this is often that the ‘quickly’ part isn’t so speedy! Whilst it is almost definitely cheaper to build it yourself, is it more cost-effective? It is rare that the end result will be as useful for your business and you will almost always have more important things to do with your time than building your new website… you’ve just started a business after all!
5. Work out what your site needs to do right now.
Often what your website needs to do straight away and what it needs to do in six months time can be two completely different things. It’s important to ensure that the professional you’re speaking to gets this as much as you do. A website should very rarely be a static object, but rather a tool that you use for given purposes as your business grows and changes. Your website should be able to adapt as your business does.
6. Research your competition.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing online. Just because they’re doing something one way, doesn’t mean you have to too! Always look at the sites as though you were their ideal client; what do they do well? What do they not do well? If this was your site how could you improve it? Take all those improvements and they should start to form the basis of the ideas for your own website.
7. Now, think about design.
It’s not until you’re at this stage that you should be starting to really think about the look and feel of your website. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, because what your website needs to do (as we’ve discussed) for your business is always more important than how it looks; and secondly, because that first step will often affect how you want your website to look anyway! Use the research on your competition to work out what you like and don’t like… often the latter is just as important!
8. Write your content.
This is often one of the most crucial parts of putting together a completely new website, and nearly always the most time-consuming! Now it’s at this point that its important to realise that not everyone was intended to be Shakespeare! If you feel that writing copy isn’t your strong point then seek out a professional copywriter. But our advice? Even if you do this, always do a first draft yourself for them to work from. At the end of the day, nobody knows your business like you do!
9. Time to build!
After all this planning and research its finally time to get building that site! Seeing the website come together is one of the most exciting parts of starting a new business. For many businesses it’s your main shop window to the world! The passion that goes into a website for a new business is a big part of why we do what we do! Once its built get it live and voila!
10. Revisit your website in six months.
Remember in point five we mentioned to think about what your website needs to do right now? Well it’s time to do that all over again! Arrange a meeting with the consultant/designer who put your website together for you six months ago to talk through how its working for your business and see where you could go with it next. It may be that your website doesn’t need any changes at all, but it may be that your marketing has developed in such a way that you need your website to do more, or different! Either way ensure every step of the way that your website is working as hard for your business as you do!