If you’ve decided that you need to build a new website (maybe because you read my article about why every business should have a website) then there’s often a tendency either to leap in and start building it yourself or to start searching for someone to build it for you. Before you do that please take a few minutes to read this article. Doing so will save you time, money and hassle!
Establish the aim of your website
At the most basic level your website exists to provide people with information about your business (even if that’s little more than confirmation that it actually exists.
But give some thought to what else you want it to do. For example, you might want it to:
- Make it easier for potential customers to contact you.
- Stop people from contacting you unnecessarily.
- Allow people to buy your products or services from your website.
- Encourage people to come to your premises to buy your products
- Allow people to book appointments online.
Look at other websites
Look at websites that have similar aims to yours – even if they are in completely different business sectors. For example, if the aim of your website is to sell products online then look at other websites that sell products online.
Look at your competitors’ websites.
Make a list of the ones you like and the ones that you don’t like, and include notes for each one about what it is that you do and don’t like.
Identify your website’s target audience
There are approximately 7.8 billion people on the planet and it’s probably fair to assume that you’d like some (not necessarily all) of them to visit your website so it’s important that you take some time to narrow down who it is that you want to visit your website.
Let’s start with four categories of people you might want to attract to your website:
- People who might want to buy the products and/or services your business provides.
- People who want to work for your business.
- People who want to invest in your business.
- People who don’t want to do any of the above, but who might influence others.
Obviously, not all of these categories might apply to you, and there may be other categories that do.
For each category that does apply to you you can create further subcategories. For example, the first category (potential customers) might be sub-divided into:
- People who have problem but don’t know what sort of product would solve it.
- People who know what sort of product they want, but don’t know which particular model they should buy.
- People who want to buy a specific product and want to know how much you sell it for and when you could deliver it.
You might also sub-divide categories in other ways, such as where they live, or the language(s) they speak.
Choose a domain name
Your domain name is your address on the internet. For example – yourname.com or yourname.co.uk.
If you choose something memorable then there’s a pretty good chance that people will be able to find your website easily because they’ll just type in the address that they remember rather than having to search in Google.
By way of an example, if you search Google for Martin Durham you’ll find that there are a surprising number of us – most of whom are more famous than me – so you might not find me easily. But I’m banking on there being a fighting chance that you’ll remember that my website is MartinDurham.co.uk.
Your domain name is an essential part of your business branding. You’re going to include it on your letterhead, your business card and all of your advertising. If you have one or more sign-written company vehicles you’re probably going to put it on those. It forms a critical part of your email address (firstname.lastname@example.org looks so much more professional than email@example.com and advertises your business with every email you send).