Creating a website & online presence

Once you’ve started your own business, and established your brand, one of the next steps you’ll need to take is to apply that to creating a website.

Whether you’re going to be selling online or not your company website offers you the backup you need for your sales patter. As the use of the internet and search continues to grow worldwide it will often be the first point of reference and therefore the first impression of your company for many potential customers.

 

Starting a website – getting going

Starting a website need not be as expensive or time consuming as people may think, but there are a number of considerations before you get going.

Do it yourself or ask the experts?

Creating your own website from scratch can certainly save a lot of money, at least theoretically, but in today’s era of online savvy, your website needs to look good and give a good user experience in order to cut the mustard. Having a badly designed website with poor customer journeys in place can be worse than not having an online presence at all, so you need to be sure about what you’re doing.

There are a number of online website creation sites that you could use to register your domain name, build your own website using pre-designed templates, get email addresses and set up online payment facilities. However, these can be restrictive and without real website design knowledge you could end up with a site you’re not happy with and a bill nonetheless.

Using a professional web designer or agency to build a basic website should give much better results and may not cost that much more once you’ve taken your own time out of the equation.

Remember to make sure that once they’ve created your site you can take ownership of it and that they give you the training to enable you to make minor updates to it yourself, without the need for further costs.

 

Research

Whether you’re choosing to go down the DIY route, or to get an expert or agency involved, researching what you like in a website, what websites your customers like and the websites of your competition can all be good food for thought. Make a list of the websites you think offer really good service and experience and try to work out why that is.

Generally, a customer will want to get the information they require to make a purchase in as few steps as possible. And they want there to be a logical pathway to that conclusion. You may find if you don’t offer this you’ll lose customers before you’ve had a chance to showcase how good your product or service really is.

 

Content is crucial

Today people are searching for engaging and useful content that they can come back to time and again. The search engines are looking for the same thing and the better your content, the higher your site will rank.

The look and feel of your website are important, but your content is also critical and your messages need to come across immediately to hook people in. You need to get across why a customer should buy from you and then make it a quick and easy transaction.

If you’re planning to trade online you’ll also need to include terms and conditions, data protection information, an exchange and refund policy, and information about delivery and how to pay. Stock availability and pricing should be kept up to date and you must explain how much VAT and post and packaging is payable per item.

 

Taking payment online

If you’re planning on trading online you’ll also need the facility to take payments via your website. This has never been easier with the likes of PayPal, and your bank may also be able to help. Remember that there’s likely to be a monthly charge for this service.

You’ll also need to have a shopping basket function on your website and this needs to be secure, to ensure their data protection. Your web designer should be able to help you with this.

 

Ongoing online

You’ll need to test your website thoroughly before launching it – with customers, with friends and others, and make sure that you act on their feedback. The better the user experience, the better your results.

Once your website is set up the work doesn’t stop there. Online activity including search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid search is critical for staying on top and ahead of the competition.

And remember to keep adding new and fresh content to re-engage your customers and keep them coming back for more.

 

Keep them on hold while you work

Once you’ve set up your new company, and while you’re working on your new website, it can be worth setting up a holding page so that if people are searching for you they know that you really do exist and they have the means to get in touch with you.

Your holding page should be branded consistently with your new logo, look and style and should include a short holding message as well as contact details.

 

For more information on getting your business started, visit our help centre.

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