A business website represents your business on-line, working for you 24/7 therefore it should look professional, easy to navigate, offer clear information about your services/products/location and top of Google?
You should also be able to update content yourself via a control panel (CP) and manage all aspect of your Google listing. These are essential elements for a successful web presence.
Before you start the website design process consider this.
Who do you want to find your website?
Identify your target reader because it can affect the reading age of your web text, style of design and navigation (how a browser finds your web pages).
Check your competitors’ websites. You will have some competition that already has a website, you will want your design to look and work better than their design.
TIP. To assist the design process, show your web designer your “competitors” websites and other websites you like (or do not like). It all helps.
Research your keywords
Keyword phrases always work more efficiently on search engines than an individual keyword. For example, you sell ‘boats’, but a specific type of boat would be a better search, ‘power boat’. Even better ‘power boats for sale in [area]’.
If you can identify your best selling boat and where the browser can buy it from you reduce the overall keyword contention putting your web page higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages). Keyword phrases can also be added to the visible text on your web page (ie: in a sentence) and/or the ‘source code’ meta tags.
By identifying in advance your top keyword phrase(s), your web designer can build them into your web pages – see SEO (search engine optimisation)
Identify how many pages you will require and give some thought to text and image content.
When do I need the site live?
Is there an event coming up on your calendar you need to be ready for?
Do not…buy a template website on-line. They will not do what you want them to do, they do not work as well on search engines and in time you’ll want it designed professionally.
Do not…try and build a website yourself. It takes years to learn the tricks of the trade and how search engines work.
Do not…get a relative or friend to build your website. I’ve re-designed so many of these sites over the years, usually after the client has had a fall out.
Briefing your web designer.
As with any design process you (the client) need to pass on your design thoughts to your new website designer. The easiest way to do this is by showing them existing websites you like, ie:
- the colours
- the page layout
- image use
When you go live, do not expect your website to go top of the search engines immediately. For natural listings (non-payment listings) it can take days or even weeks for the search engine software (crawlers/bots) to find (cache) all the information within your web pages.
Some search engines hold back new submissions (sand boxing), your web designer has no control over this.
Buying a web name.
The most important issue here is that YOU buy YOUR web name.
DO NOT allow the web designer, friend, employee or anyone else do this for you. I’ve witnessed several clients losing their website because a third party forgot to renew the web name purchase or the third party has disappeared, fallen out with you, divorced you or died (I’ve seen all of these).
.co.uk or .com?
This is a regularly asked question and I always reply, “you can only submit one web name to a search engine”, if that search engine is a .co.uk search engine then buy a .co.uk web name.
TIP. When you purchase your web name try and use a trade and/or geographical keyword in the name, ie: acme-plumbers-london.co.uk
There’s some debate about whether this is good practice but we’ve seen some excellent results when this type of name purchase is used.
Also see: holistic web design
Try to avoid buying a web name that is similar to other web sites, most people look for a known company name using the browser search field. If there are other companies using the same words you could be lower down the results page (SERPs).
For example: search for ‘oast house media’ and my company website should be top, search for ‘oast house’ and my website is on page two.
TIP. If you think your web name is too long for email addresses buy a second much shorter web name and ask your web design company to set up your emails using the abbreviated version. Email addresses have to be typed in exactly correct whereas web addresses are searched for (and can even be misspelt!).