Make your website stand out from the crowd by following the steps below to make the right decisions.
1. Get planning
Planning will help you create a website for your business that meets your needs and the needs of your customers.
- put a digital strategy in place to make sure your website aligns with your business goals
- utilise your business and marketing plans, particularly when budgeting
- set a firm budget and allow for contingencies – a minimum of $1000
- choose a great top-level domain name External link (opens in same window)and try to get the .com
Benefits of a digital strategy
A digital strategy aligns your online activities with your business goals and will help you stay on track in this constantly changing environment. A digital strategy will help you:
- stay competitive online
- improve customer service
- help businesses to expand and grow
- improve quality control
- streamline your business
- free you up from process-driven activities
- improve redundancy (disaster recovery)
- increase your customer base
- enable 24/7 sales
- automate aspects of your staff training/induction.
2. Choose the build
There are three options to go with when choosing the design and build of your website. You can:
- hire a web designer – most designers will ask you to fill in a briefing document to help understand your needs
- choose a hosted website building platform – this will lead you through the process of designing your website for a subscription, so make sure it has the functionality you need
- Do-It-Yourself – you’ll have to choose a hosting provider and software platform (content management system) to build your website.
3. Research website building platforms
If necessary, find and choose a high quality website hosting provider, making sure you:
- have a hosting plan with a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- avoid hosting with your website designer – in case the relationship sours
- test the customer support channels before purchasing a hosting plan.
The next step is to find and choose a high quality website building platform or Content Management System (CMS). Many hosting providers also offer a CMS. Make sure you test the building platform’s features with your current and potential website, and marketing requirements outlined in your marketing plan.
If you’re planning to sell products or services from your website, make sure the platform you choose is suitable for e-business or eCommerce.
- Some popular website platforms include Squarespace External link (opens in same window), WordPress External link (opens in same window)(hosted) and Webnode External link (opens in same window).
- Some popular shopping cart platforms (popularly known as eCommerce) include Magneto External link (opens in same window), Woo Commerce External link (opens in same window), Shopify External link (opens in same window)and BigCommerce External link (opens in same window).
Why you need a marketing plan
A good marketing plan will help you:
- answer key questions about your business
- act as a reference document to help execute your marketing strategy
- develop a structured approach to creating services and products that satisfy your customers’ needs.
When writing a marketing plan you need to be clear about your marketing objectives and how you’re going to achieve them.
4. Look at design and usability
The design of your website is important to build trust in your business and make sure people can find the content or sales information they’re looking for.
Consider using your website to help streamline your sales process – think about how your website can capture important information from potential customers or process sales transactions. Fill in a website design brief, even if you’re doing it yourself to make sure you’ve considered everything.
- have navigation that’s usable and consistently placed, such as an ‘About us’ link on every page
- avoid Flash and gimmicks that take your customer’s attention away from your content
- create an HTML sitemap – a representation of your website’s information architecture
- check your website’s compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines External link.
5. Map out your content
Writing for the web is very different. You need to map out what content will be needed, and what your audience will be looking for in the future. For help on writing for the web, check out our tips on write a content marketing plan.
6. Website optimisation
Make sure your website is standards-compliant and:
- works in most browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari
- is easy-to-read on mobile platforms, such as tablets and smartphones
- is fast to load by checking Google’s page speed toolsExternal link (opens in same window)
- is using XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – you can check if it’s built correctly using a CSS Validator External link (opens in same window)and XHTML Validator External link.
7. Engage customers with online marketing
A newsletter or email list is often the best way to get people engaged with your web content regularly. Your website should be part of your marketing plan, which means considering promoting via:
- the use of online channels, such as LinkedIn and Facebook
- the use of offline channels, such as groups you belong to or press releases.
Make sure you set up website analytics, such as Google Analytics External link (opens in same window) which is free to use, to test and measure your website marketing efforts.
8. Be secure
If you don’t update and protect your website platform, you’re leaving yourself open to hackers. Some preventative steps include:
- using high-level usernames and passwords – not ‘admin’ and ‘password123’
- keep your platform software and any plugins/modules up-to-date
- consider an external security monitoring software above and beyond your website hosting providers.
Examples of cyber security problems
Cyber security problems you might encounter in your business include:
- viruses or malicious software (more commonly referred to as Malware) that affect the way your computer runs or corrupts your data – these can be spread by opening email attachments from people you don’t know or through online scams
- hackers capturing personal data if you’re sharing information over a wireless internet network that isn’t properly protected
- free software you’ve downloaded that collects and shares information about you without your knowing about it, or giving your permission.
How can I improve cyber security in my business?
There are some basic things you can do to improve cyber security in your business:
- Use an up-to-date virus scanner on all your computers.
- Make sure your wireless internet networks are password protected and secure.
- Don’t open email attachments from sources you don’t trust.
- Be very careful about free applications you download from the internet.
From Australian Business