We have been presenting our tips for building websites this month, and I thought I’d share it with you if you couldn’t attend one.
How to build a great website in 14 steps: a cheat sheet
Do you know how to create a powerful sales-oriented website, one that will brand you as an expert in your field and help you attract new customers? You need to think about what you want visitors to do when they visit your site, what you have to offer your customer, how to look your best, and how to get the viewer to take action. Is it hard? No, not really. Is it fun? It can be, yes!
My name is Eric Oxenberg, and I’m an online marketing specialist. I’ve been designing websites for over fifteen years, and before that, I was an ad agency art director working with clients like Toyota, Microsoft and IBM. I was part of the design team that developed the very first car website in the world, Lexus.com. I also did direct response marketing for financial advisory services, healthcare manufacturers and other businesses. Now I take the big-brand approach that major corporations use and combine it with direct marketing strategies to create branded online campaigns that sell.
I’m going to talk about how I work with businesses to create great websites. The development steps I’ll outline today can take you that much further towards creating the best possible website for your company or service. From prioritizing your goals to researching your competition, from finding the perfect domain name to putting up relevant content, you’ll see how to develop, design and produce an awesome website, one that will get you noticed, and could increase your income substantially.
How To Build A New Web Site In 14 Steps: A cheat sheet by Coincident Ideas
- Be goal-oriented. Think about what you do and who is buying from you. What’s your top priority…educating the public? Introducing your business? Establishing yourself as a leader in your field? Making an immediate sale? Bringing traffic to your brick-and-mortar? Pick the most important goal, and focus on it.
- Don’t be an online jack-of-all-trades. If you have two different businesses, don’t put them together on one website. Why? It ruins your search engine ranking and dilutes your message.
- Pick the perfect name for your website. The best domain names are under twelve characters long, uses real words that describe your business, and aren’t confusing. Remember, it doesn’t literally have to be the name of your company to be a good site name.
- Do research on your competition. Who else does what you do? Are these competitors more knowledgeable than you? Are they better staffed, or better trained? Where are they promoting themselves, and how well do they get the message out? Do competitors have different customers, and are they more desirable?
- Look at your competitors’ websites. What works for them? Which one has a feature you would love to have on your site? Which sites get on the first page of search results, and why? You should take the best of those competitors’ marketing efforts, and try to use some of those ideas for your site. Don’t steal, just improve.
- Think about your web pages. What must be there for you to sell your business…the About page? Product or Services pages? Staff page? Client list? Testimonials? A blog?
- Think about navigation. Create a mockup to help you visualize the behavior of your visitors. It’s just like a flow chart, from entry on the home page to possible exits. Nothing important should be more than two clicks away from a reader’s starting point.
- Find some websites that you really like and bookmark them. Look online, write down the URLs of strong websites, either visually or how they present ideas, and to look beyond your field; any good website is a valid choice. Would any of those favorites styles work for your kind of business?
- Find a platform. The fastest way to build a website today is with a platform like WordPress. Not only are good WordPress templates inexpensive, they are far easier to build on and update than creating websites from scratch in HTML, and most business owners want at least the option to edit their sites without having to call a developer.
- Content doesn’t magically fill up your website. Either you or someone you hire, has to tell your story. You need to outline every web page and flesh them out with actual paragraphs of relevant text. Whatever you do, you must proofread every paragraph, and not let embarrassing typos or misspellings get through the process.
- Take pictures and shoot video. Most modern sites are image-heavy. But don’t depend on your own photos unless you’re pretty awesome; instead look for high-quality stock images or work with a professional photographer. And don’t steal from other sites, you could face an expensive copyright infringement lawsuit.
- Don’t worry too much about SEO. If you write about what you do, where you’re located and what your specialty is, search engines will give you credit for being relevant. But do think about what questions and phrases people look for when they use search engines, so you can have appropriate content on your site.
- Don’t take on too much. Try to narrow down the scope of tasks and your associated costs. You can’t realistically design and program a good website in a few weeks, and it will usually cost a bit more than you think. That’s okay; as a business owner, you’re investing in your future.
- One last thing: try to do it right the first time. Come up with your plan and stick with it. Try not to add a bunch of new ideas or features as you go, because this will just bog you down and frustrate everyone. Remember, in a year there’s always version 2.0.
You can do these things to build a better web presence for your company, or you can work with a web expert like myself. I really enjoy helping you communicate the unique aspects of your businesses, so if I can help, all you need to do is ask.
Eric Oxenberg is an advertising and design professional with over 25 years experience promoting businesses in Southern California. His company is Coincident Ideas, a marketing agency that specializes in responsive websites, email marketing and social media integration. He has a partner, Kimi, and a cat that doesn’t know she’s not a dog.