When you first start your new business it can be a bit daunting! There are so many things to organise like bank accounts, marketing materials and it can even take a while to decide on the business name!
When thinking specifically about websites, there are some steps to take to prepare and gather information. I have detailed these below so if you are starting out this can be a great guide as to what you need to have in place to create a new website for your business.
1 – Research & plan
This stage is often underestimated! I get enquiries all the time that just say ‘I’d like a website please’. And the first thing I need to do is ask more questions to find out the type of website you want, what the business does, what services, who is it aimed at, what does it need to ‘do’ and the list goes on. So, it makes sense for you to conduct the research in advance of trying to locate a website designer. So look at your competitors websites – you need to ensure yours is better! What sort of content do they have? What tone do they use to talk to their customers? And then have a think about how yours should be different – what is your USP? What makes you stand out from the crowd? And you can then think about the information you need to include and how to communicate this to your market. This stage can often lead to a sitemap being created and some ideas about how you want to look visually.
2 – Domain name
You need to give this a bit of consideration preferably when you’re thinking about the company name. You may settle on a great name but it may be that there isn’t a domain name available that is close to your business name. It is best to avoid hyphens if you can as this can lead to errors when people are typing and be careful that your company name when joined together into one phrase still reads okay. For example company Teachers Talking became teacherstalking.org when used as a domain name! And unfortunately the really obvious ones are unlikely to be available. And ideally you want to be able to buy a .co.uk and .com version. It is also advisable for you to buy this directly as then the domain is registered to your company name rather than if a web designer buys on your behalf.
3 – Logo design
Often this is overlooked. Some clients provide me with home crafted versions on Word that just don’t cut the mustard! If you want to present a professional image as a business then you need to start here. You need to spend some time designing something that portrays the business well and appropriately. Otherwise how will your customers take you seriously if you don’t? You can find out more about my logo design service here and why I think it is important here
4 – Content & images
This can also be considered to be part of the planning stage. You need to have some idea of how many pages you want and what you need to say. Unless you employ the services of a copywriter it will be up to you to provide the text about your business. Too little and Google won’t pay much attention. The minimum number of pages you need is usually five : Home, About, Services, Testimonials and Contact. I also highly recommend having a News or Blog section as this is really important for SEO and also demonstrating the changes within the business and your area of expertise. But it needs time and committment to really work properly – a minimum blog post per quarter but ideally per month. And it is highly likely that some images will be needed. You can either have some professional ones which allows them to be unique for your business, or there are some free websites eg https://unsplash.com/ or https://www.pexels.com/ that can be used for commercial use. Or failing that a stock image website with some fees attached ; https://www.istockphoto.com/gb Just be aware that this means others will be using them too. And don’t just take from something you find on Google! Unless you have the copyright you can’t just include them.
5 – SSL certificate
This is now a requirement for all websites since the introduction of GDPR and helps increase visitor confidence if you have one. Plus websites with one are prioritised over those without by Google. Various levels are available by purchase ffrom your host with some being free and higher levels available for ecommerce solutions. Find out more about SSL certificates
6 – Hosting
There are lots and lots of hosting companies out there advertised on the TV often with really cheap monthly fees. And with a new business, you can be keen to keep costs to a minimum. But buying the budget level of hosting can cause more issues in the future. You need to ensure the hosting will support your website as it grows and as traffic levels increase. It needs to be able to provide reasonable speed as you don’t want customers leaving the website if it takes time to load. I always recommend looking at reviews for companies before making a commitment. Often it can be safest to arrnage your hosting via the website designer who builds the website as then you know it will be suitable for your website and you only have one person to call in the event of issues. Larger companies can leave you stuck waiting for support! Find out more here for hosting information and things to look out for
7 – Email address
And finally the email address! Don’t start with a hotmail or gmail address. In my opinion, it projects the wrong image and it is far better to have one that matches your domain to complete that full professional impression.
8 – Social media
The last one on the list! Some companies don’t have the time for this and/or it may not be right for the type of business. But it is a bit of a neccessity I believe, especially when you’re starting out, to let people know about your business. Each type of account is aimed at a different market, so Instagram is a very different beast to Linkedin. So its important to select the right one for you and your customers. And find the time to keep up with it. There are specific companies that can help set things up and even manage your account for you if you don’t have the time. And then the website can link to your accounts and vice versa.
So there you have it! Spend some time in advance thinking about all of the above and you shouldn’t go far wrong. Happy to help with any enquiries if you have questions – let me know!