Things To Keep In Mind When Starting Your Own Small Business Website
With more and more customers going online to find what they need, it is becoming increasingly more important for business to compete for their attention by having an online presence. However, small businesses tend to skip on the idea of launching a website – much less a mobile-friendly one – simply because they don’t see the value in it. If that’s not the case, then it’s usually because they just don’t know where to start. According to Bridget Randolph on Moz.com:
Only 60% of small businesses even have a website, and of those that do, only half (so roughly 30% of all small businesses) are mobile-friendly.
These statistics represent a lot of opportunities that a lot of small businesses are missing out on just by not having an online presence. Don’t know how to go about it? Here are a few tips on how to get started.
Find a Good Web Hosting Service
If you want to start a website, you need a web space that is accessible via the internet or a web design service for your business that is provided by a trusted source such as infintechdesigns.com. A web hosting service provides the virtual space where your site will be hosted. More likely than not, you will be starting with an entry level hosting plan. These plans are usually shared hosting plans where your site shares resources on a single server with many other sites. Many of these plans cost less than $10 as a result of the hosting company’s reduced costs. Other hosting plans include VPS and dedicated servers, but you don’t have to think about these until your site has grown significantly enough that it exhausts the available resources on your shared host.
Choose a CMS
Along with a good web host, you need to choose a CMS (content management system) as well. According to Wikipedia:
[A CMS] is a bundled or stand-alone application to create, manage, store and deploy content on Web pages. Web content includes text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, and code (e.g., for applications) that displays content or interacts with the user.
It’s basically a simplified interface that allows you to focus on content creation and management while the CMS takes care of the back end of your site. My favorite is WordPress, which is used by 18% of all websites and has an assortment of themes, plugins and widgets to help customize the look, feel and functionality of your site. There’s also Joomla, Drupal and a whole bunch of others you can explore if you want.
Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
One of the reasons more and more people are shopping and looking for anything else they need online is because devices like smartphones and tablets have made the internet so much more accessible. Therefore, it pays to make sure your mobile customers have just as good an experience on your site as your desktop and laptop users.
There are two ways to go about this. One is to go with a responsive design so that your website automatically adjusts to the size of the screen it’s being viewed through. The other is to make a separate site that is specific to mobile users that they can be redirected to.
Responsive sites are typically the better option but there are a few downsides. First is that they are more expensive to develop. Second is that there is less control over how the information is laid out because of the modular nature of responsive design. This is more of an issue with e-commerce sites, but can also be problematic if you have several onscreen elements that appear as a cohesive whole in desktop mode but get separated from each other when the modules rearrange themselves vertically when viewed on a smartphone.
Use a Clear Description of Who You Are
If anyone arrives at your site or encounters it in a search engine result, don’t make it hard for them to figure out what you’re all about. Entrepreneur.com says:
Someone who stumbles upon your website shouldn’t have to do investigative work to figure out what, exactly, it is that you do. That means clearly stating your name and summing up your products or services right on the homepage, says John Zhuang, of Web-design and SEO-optimization firm Winning Interactive.
‘Tell people this is the right website that they have been searching for,’ he says. ‘[A clear description] will attract the visitor’s attention immediately within 2-3 seconds, and encourage them to stay on your website longer.’
There’s also a benefit to this when your site shows up in search results as your description always shows up along with it. Try to be creative but remember to give a clear idea of what you and your products or services are all about.
Make Basic Contact Information Highly Visible on Every Page
It’s nice to have a great website that includes a lot of in-depth information about the products or services you offer. This kind of website makes it easier to convince customers to buy from you. But what happens if they don’t know how. All that hard work into making a great website will have been for nothing. This might seem obvious thing that most website owners do, but many small to medium business websites actually don’t make a phone number or email available from the home page. According to ReachLocal.com:
To make sure your website visitors aren’t sent on a wild goose chase looking for contact information, make sure to at least include a phone number on each page of your website. If you don’t want to place your contact information on each page, consider this solution: build a web page that provides all of your important contact information, including phone number, email address, location with a map, and hours of operation. Then add a “Contact Us” button as part of your website design template or footer to make sure this is included on every page.
The least you can do is to make sure your landing pages have your contact information so customers can quickly see it when coming in after clicking on a search or display ad.
Make Navigation as Simple as Possible
This last tip should also be obvious, but it’s surprising just how many websites don’t pay attention to this aspect. An easily navigable website is one that has all the navigation controls in one area of the site and reduces the number of clicks to any webpage to as few as possible. AmandaMarks.com says:
…don’t make your visitors guess about how to navigate your site. Every page should be easily accessible via the main menu and a sitemap page.