Generally, a small business selling goods or services needs a stellar website. But where does a busy entrepreneur start when it comes time to design and implement functionality for a new site? Before you start the process, ask yourself the questions below to help you create a site that attracts and engages your target audience.
Why do you need a website?
The answer “Because everyone has one” is not enough to pour time, energy and money into creating a website. Are you going to use your site for lead generation? Are you trying to get newsletter subscribers? Are you simply offering valuable content? Answer “why” before you get down to business.
What is your brand?
David Ogilvy, an advertising executive who was widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising”, says that a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Strong brand strategy can give you a major competitive edge over similar small businesses. Determine how you’ll present your brand online and what a potential customer needs to immediately “get” about your business when on your site. Fancy bells and whistles are fun but flashy features still need to convey your brand accurately so that you stand out from the competition.
What does your competition look like?
It’s important that you do a quick competitive analysis and check out what others in your space are doing. What appears to be working for them? What doesn’t look so great? Take detailed notes about what you like and what you’re not crazy about. The more specific you can get, the better. Take a close look at the following:
- How is the product photography?
- How detailed are their product and service descriptions? Is vital information missing or confusing?
- Where are the calls to action and are they strong enough to elicit a response?
- Is the site optimized for mobile?
- What types of contact do they offer? (Live chat, email, phone number, etc.)
Do you have a “call to action”?
Once you launch a website, the work doesn’t stop. Small businesses need an active website that can collect email addresses and more. Don’t give away your good content or information for free. Use a short form or one-question poll to gather useful data that you can use to generate leads or spark a response from your target audience. Do you have the time to process the back end information that you’ll gather and to update the site periodically? If not, do you have a team member that can take on the task? Be sure you don’t create a website and just let it languish.
Is there another online way to promote your business?
Website creation and maintenance can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking. Are you sure you need one? The first place consumers usually visit when searching for goods and services is online. But a dedicated website isn’t a make-or-break deal if you have other online platforms that offer positive information about your business. For example, a robust Yelp page can be just as effective. As an entrepreneur, you can claim your company page on Yelp to establish an online presence. Once you’ve done that, you can post pictures and business information and you’ll even have the opportunity to respond to favorable or unfavorable reviews. Yelp is often the first stop for a consumer before they pull out their wallet and can stand in for your own website. Facebook is another platform consumers visit to learn more about a company. Both Yelp and Facebook are free alternatives.
When you’re ready to jump into the website waters, here are some resources that you might find helpful: