Confused about websites? Wondering if you should have one? Not sure how to or what to put on it?
Here’s a Back to Basic guide to websites, telling you what exactly is a website, why web design is important and how to promote it.
Having a website for your business is no longer a luxury. 9 out of 10 people research a business online first. Over half of consumers don’t trust a business without a website.
With people searching on mobile phones now more than on a computer, your site has to be responsive. That means it needs to look great, no matter what device they’re using.
A website is information on the internet that other people can see. Every website has it’s own address, called a domain, for example, www.clairepitts.com.
You don’t actually buy the domain. What you do is pay to use it for a period of time. One thing to note is the domain should be registered in your name, not someone else’s.
When choosing a domain, think about how it’s going to be used. You may have email addresses that use the domain, so you’ll want it to be easy to remember and spell. The other thing to consider is whether to have .com or .co.uk. For local businesses, .co.uk is perfect – it shows you’re a UK based company.
Once you have a domain name, you then need somewhere to host the address and your website.
Websites live on a computer, called a server. The server belongs to a company who looks after the maintenance and security of the computer. They connect the server to the internet so that people can view your website. This is called ‘hosting’ your website.
Now that you have an address and a place to store the files and information for your website, you need some software or code to create the website.
Websites can be created using a variety of programs. The code for creating them is html, css and php (although there are many others). But, don’t worry, you don’t need to become a computer programmer!
There’s software out there that can create your website for you and the good news is that it’s free. It’s called WordPress and it’s what I use for the majority of my clients.
WordPress is great to create websites on. It does a lot of the hard work for you. If you’ve already had the design and basic information added to the site, you can really easily go and add or change things without having to pay someone like me to do it.
To start with you need a home page. This is the main page of your website and it’s the one visitors see when they type in www.yourdomain.com.
You’ll need an About page, a Contact page (with a form they complete) and then, after that it’s up to you. It will depend on what your business does and how you want to use the site.
If you are selling products or services from the website, you’ll need an eCommerce store.
You may want to provide information and articles to help customers, often called a ‘blog’.
To give you an idea, a basic website tends to have 4-5 pages, a complex one can have many hundreds.
Design is a personal thing, but there are some basic elements to consider.
Whitespace: It is the space between columns, between lines of type or figures that provides visual breathing room for the eye.
Above the fold: What does a person see when viewing your website. It’s impossible to know where this point is, but make sure there’s enough information above the fold that reassures the visitor that they are in the right place.
Colour: While colour is again personal, colour, and it’s use, can make a huge difference to the impression of your website. Certain colours make us feel safe, others alarm us.
Typeface: Typeface or font is how the letters are formed or styled. Some are easier to read on the internet than others. If you’re not sure, stick to fonts like Verdana that are easy to read and found all over the internet.
Flashing/Moving: Things that flash or move take longer to load on a website, so try to limit these. Unless they add something, avoid using flashing or blinking text. Moving text is ok, as long as it doesn’t detract from the website.
Think about a way you can get visitors to give you their email addresses by offering them something in return. It could be in the form of a report, how to guide, video or discount.
This is a great way of getting leads and then using these leads to keep contact. Send them information that will develop trust and that they would be interested in receiving.
You might want to link your site to Google Analytics. This gives you a huge amount of information about how customers are using your website, which pages they spend time on and which ones they leave. You can then make updates and changes to your website based on this information.
Provide links to any social media accounts you have and also provide ways people can easily share your website on social media.
Often, someone will be going to your website to find out how to contact you or find your business. Make this really easy for them and have your telephone number and street address visible on every page and think about having a map.
Now that you’ve got a website, how do people find you?
The first thing I always tell clients to do is register their business with Google. You will need a Google account and then it’s simple to register your business.
This way, your business will show up when people search for what you sell in the maps view.
The next way is to advertise. Pay Google to advertise your business for you. It’s relatively cheap and a quick way to get visitors to your website.
Advertising on Google is not straightforward, so you may need some help setting the advert up. Be careful to watch how much you’re spending compared to how many sales you make. But, done well, this is a cost-effective way to get visitors and make sales.
Promote your website on your ‘offline’ media. Have it on posters, flyers, letters and business cards. People will go and look at a website from a flyer, so don’t forget to include it.
I’m often asked about social media and whether it is worth it.
The answer is, it depends. It depends on what you’re selling and which social media platform you are using.
Let’s have a quick look at what you can (and should) be doing on the main platform, Facebook.
Facebook is a social media platform that’s used by billions of people every day.
If you are a business you will need to have a Facebook Page (don’t use or over use your personal account. Facebook watches for this and closes those accounts down).
A Facebook Page is the same as a personal one. You can post updates, share images and links to websites. People like your page and should, in theory, see your posts.
The thing is, Facebook is a business and wants you to pay for people who like your page to see it. So very few of your fans will see these posts.
What Facebooks want you to do is advertise. You can pay for people who have liked your page to see your post or you can pay for a broader range of people to see it.
You may have noticed in your feed posts that have ‘Sponsored Post’. These people have paid to be there.
Is advertising on Facebook worth it? It depends on what you’re selling. People are on Facebook to look at news from their friends and share ‘gossip’. If what you are selling fits in with that, then yes it’s worth advertising. If not, then I’d give it a miss.
One thing to mention here is don’t depend on a Facebook Page and not have a website. You want to get the contact details from your fans into your own database. Facebook can and does change the rules. All it takes is for them to close your Page down and you’ve lost everything.
Facebook Groups are worth considering if your customers like to meet and chat. One of my businesses has a thriving Facebook Group that we set up. There are regular discussions in the group and everyone sees when we post.
In my experience, I prefer to advertise on Google than on Facebook, but it does depend on what you’re selling.
SEO, search engine optimisation, is where Google finds and lists your website ‘organically’. In other words, you don’t pay Google, they ‘find’ you.
It’s the dream of most website owners. After all, who wouldn’t want to be on the first page of Google search results without paying?
The problem is, Google uses a complex algorithm to decide who to show as a result from searching and who not. This changes often and is a well kept secret.
This means that what worked last year may not work this year. I can help. There are ways that you can get your website on the first page of Google.
If this is something that interests you, then let me know and we’ll talk further.
So, now you know what a website is, what to put on it and how to get people to visit it, the big question is this.
Will you create one yourself or will you pay someone to do it for you?
I would love to work with you to create your website. I offer low-cost hosting, web design, SEO and copywriting services. Working with me, you get:
•Website live in 7 days
•Expert web design
•Copy provided (if required)
•Images provided (if required)
•Full training provided
•Free 1 month support
I’d definitely recommend a website by Claire!
Everything set up so quickly and Claire is always so fast at getting back to you for help, guidance or to put something right for us.
Our website was tailored to us and very clean and straightforward.
DIANE PARKER / THE CONSULTING GAMER
Call me on 07887 533845 or complete the contact form.
I look forward to working with you,