In his latest article for Business Advice, Stefano Maruzzi, GoDaddy’s vice president for EMEA, provides an essential guide for small business owners looking to bolster their online presence and build a website that stands ahead of the competition.
In an increasingly digital world, small businesses need an online presence in order to help compete with the deluge of online information.
More than ever, a successful business needs a website that looks great and shares information that helps sell your product or service, convincing customers to make the choice to trust you.
Although it is often assumed that a great website means spending a few thousand pounds on design and set-up, creating a stellar website doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sometimes sounds.
Investing a little time, energy and money, you can set up your business’ online presence using some simple tips and the right tools.
If you’re looking to build a website without the stress of complex technical knowledge, these ideas could help make the process quick and easy.
Build a website for success in seven steps
(1) Keep it simple
Coding. The word that used to be enough to put anyone off going ahead with their website. Hearing terms like HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) could be confusing.
Do-it-yourself site builders can manage these elements in the background and let you build your site visually.
A content management system (CMS), like GoDaddy’s WordPress or Website Builder, helps you to manage your content without having to worry about advanced design. All you have to do is input what you want to display on your website, and the CMS processes create it for you.
(2) Less is more
To build a website that looks professional, a great aesthetic is key to keeping your visitor’s attention. In this case, less is definitely more.
Choose which information is the most important for your customers, and focus on conveying that message on the home page. What is it about your business that they should know at first glance?
Keep your site from looking too busy or confusing by moving additional information to other pages, which can also be linked to from the home page. Your message should be clear to a visitor within the first ten seconds.
Using simply one or two clear fonts, and a colour palette limited to two or three colours, can be the best way to keep your website’s aesthetic appealing and easier to read.
(3) Navigation – where do you go from here?
If you want visitors to learn more about your business through the website, you need to make it easy for them to navigate. Keep your navigation menus clear and intuitive, making sure that the options are prominent and easy to find on your site.
Sub-menus will help you to keep your main pages clear, grouping similar pages together without overloading your navigation menu bar.
Many website templates also offer single-page websites, scrolling further down the page to discover new sections that would otherwise be separate pages. This can be a huge advantage for businesses that are more likely to be found on mobile devices too.
While some may prefer traditional structures to their website, it is also worth exploring different ways to showcase different facets of your content.
(4) Substance matters – content and language
As you may expect, a great aesthetic can only take you so far in growing your business online. The content that you share and the way it is presented is just as important.
Make sure the information you share about your business is useful and accurate. Represent your current practices, policies, prices and so on, so that your website is helpful to your clients.
Help visitors get a sense of your business style and personality by using clear and natural language, rather than cramming keywords into every paragraph. Images can also make the site more readable, using them to create an appealing visual but don’t let them detract from your message.
(5) Contacting your business
As much as you build a website, the ultimate objective is to get visitors to contact you as potential customers or clients. Make sure that your contact details can be easily found. Of course, this will depend on the style of your site and on your business itself.
Some business owners will only need an email address or phone number to reach their customers, while others may have a brick-and-mortar location.
In this case, you may wish to post the address of your business, and integrating a map into your site can be useful and more interactive for a physical location.
(6) Search it
For a small business, making sure that you build a website that can be found easily in a search engine is be a great way to help increase organic traffic to your business.
By designing for search engine optimisation(SEO), a website can rank higher in results from search engines like Google and Yahoo. This happens through a CMS or website builder with the use of plugins like Yoast SEO, which you can easily add to your website settings.
Some website builders may also offer a feature that allows you to add keywords in for each new page, making sure you are search engine optimised by the time you launch your website.
(7) Mobile first
Most of all, as digital activity is increasingly more mobile, your website needs to be optimised for smartphone access. With over half of online users visiting websites from their mobile phones and tablets, it’s important to consider how your website will look on a mobile device.
Many CMS providers offer mobile-compatible templates and some website builders are pre-set to be mobile-optimised.
Keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to be putting your best foot forward with potential clients no matter where they view your website.
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