An online presence is a must for every type of company. Your business website is your chance to show the world who you are. You can use it for marketing purposes, to find new leads or to encourage loyalty from current customers. The internet is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways of reaching your target audience.
According to Statista, there are about 4.57 billion active internet users, which amounts to 59% of the world’s population. The United States ranks in the top three countries with the number of citizens online.
There is an old marketing rule of thumb stating a person must encounter your brand name five to seven times before remembering you. Consider your business website as part of a broader equation.
There are various ways to build a website from scratch, but if you want an actual presence driving brand recognition, you must dig deeper. There are eight distinct things you should do as you create a business website.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you plan anything for your site, you should dig into your customer demographics. What is the age, gender and career of your typical customer? Write down as many life details as you can find. Next, look at the behaviors of your buyers. What types of activities do they enjoy? What does your customer do in their spare time?
Finally, think about what causes the person to look for your business. What pain point drives them to seek a solution?
2. Study the Competition
Look at your competitors and take notes about their sites. What features do they offer? Is there online ordering? What seems to be the purpose of each page on their websites?
Also, look at the style of their pages. Do they have a traditional or more modern feel? Why do you think this is? For example, if you run a financial institution, creating a business website with a hip vibe may not instill confidence. You don’t want to copy the look of other sites, because doing so creates confusion for consumers. However, you should pay attention to the tone of the design.
3. Find a Domain Name
Once you have an idea of what your customers want and the overall personality you wish to exude as a brand, choose a domain name. It isn’t easy to find something available. There are over 351 million domain names registered. If your company has a common name, such as ABC Company, finding one becomes almost impossible.
Use domain name wizards and run through words related to your business. Try to find something as close to your name as possible. However, make sure it’s easy for consumers to remember. Your website and company name should be similar.
4. Choose a Web Hosting Company
Your next step is figuring out which web hosting company is best for your needs. If you plan to build an e-commerce store, you might want an out-of-the-box solution, such as Shopify. However, if you need more flexibility, you’ll need a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress.
Read the reviews on different options and try to find a company with a good reputation and fast loading speeds. People are impatient. They aren’t going to wait around if your business website lags and fails to load. They’ll simply leave and go to a competitor’s site instead.
5. Build Your Pages
Your next step is building your pages. Figure out the goal of your business website. If you want to convert site visitors into leads, you may only need a few informational pages, an about us page and a form. If you wish to sell items, you’ll require product description pages. Once you understand your site’s objective, you’ll be better able to figure out what to build.
Make sure every page has a consistent look and identifies as part of your company. A logo in the upper left corner brands your name, for example. Figure out if you want to add regular content to your site. If so, you’ll also need a blog or vlog area.
6. Set up Payment Systems
Will your business website accept payments online? If so, you need to set up a system that makes sense for your needs. It’s much easier to go with a third-party provider such as Stripe or PayPal. However, if you already have a point-of-sale (POS) system and an account with a credit card processing company, you can also use that.
Keep in mind if you use your own payment processing, you’ll need a secure way to collect personal data. Rules such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) demand you keep information private and have security measures in place.
7. Test Everything
Once your site looks the way you want and every element functions, test everything to make sure it works as expected. Click on every link. Fill out and submit every form.
Next, conduct some A/B tests to see if anything needs tweaking. If you aren’t sure about a particular color for your call to action (CTA) buttons, try out another option and see which performs best. Run a variety of tests and improve your website as you go.
8. Market Your New Site Like Crazy
Once your business website is tested and ready, launch it. Your next step is marketing like crazy. Add content to your pages and share it on social media. Make sure everything answers a question your users have. Think back to your buyer personas and their pain points. Which part of your material offers a solution to a problem? You can use Facebook to target the exact audience you want. Match your social media audience to your buyer persona.
Ask your current customers to share about your new site. Include your website address on printed materials. Tell people to check out your page and get word-of-mouth buzz going.
Keep It Simple
Your business website doesn’t have to involve complicated or expensive methods. Many platforms allow you to build a site in a few hours. However, keeping your users’ attention requires ongoing effort. You should maintain your pages and add new content regularly. The more attention you pay to your site, the better it will be. An online presence is vital in today’s competitive global market.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.