Building A Business Website – What We’ve Learned

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To further our commitment to helping our clients improve their performance and increase their bottom line, Vincents were proud this month to announce the launch of our new-look website.

Website design can be a complicated and extremely technical project to take on.  Without the expertise, careful planning and commitment to see it through, you run the risk of ending up with an incomplete website…or one that ultimately doesn’t give you what you need.

The following are some tips that we would like to share from our own experience for any business looking to redevelop (or even create their very first!) website that takes their offering to the next level.

Have a Clear Goal

Every small business website is different because every business is on a unique mission.  If you want your website to be a portal for your clients to buy your products or service, you need to align it with your mission statement and your USP (unique selling proposition).  What is your point of difference in the market?  What are the values that guide you on your journey?  Your values should be more than just words to you – they should help you make the many choices that you face in your business each day.  Thinking about how these core values, selling proposition and mission statement can be incorporated into your website design (through imagery, words, tools, resources and the way you showcase your products and services) will all go a long way to ensuring your website acts as an effective ‘silent ‘marketer and that visitors to your site eventually convert into clients, champions/supporters, business partners or even employees!

Engage a Professional but Work Alongside Them

Once you have a clear goal in mind, most businesses (unless they have a full scale marketing team in place) will need to outsource at least a portion of the website development to a professional.  Assess internally what skills your company would benefit the most from outsourcing, and what parts may be able to be covered in-house.  For example, you may have a graphic designer employed, or already have visual branding and content in place that you don’t want to change the look of – but need help with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), hosting and CMS (Content Management System) endeavours.  There are many digital companies out there that take a holistic view of the website development process and factor all of these things in their scope of services – but the resultant cost can be quite high.  Whatever portion of the process you decide to outsource, it is crucial that a member of your business be in contact at key points throughout the redevelopment – because as much as the expertise of professionals should be taken on board, they will not have the unique insight into your business that you do.  Work with your developers to create a perfect link between your industry know-how and theirs.

Research Your Competitors

Assembling competitive intelligence is often one of the best ways to help take your website to the next level.  Identify your top 5 competitors in your industry – whether that be through your own awareness or simply by Googling industry specific keywords and seeing who ranks highly – and really get a good feel for their websites.   Take note of the aspects of each site that appeal to you (as well as those that don’t!) and discuss with your developer how these findings could be incorporated into your own website development without losing what makes your business unique.

Create Smart Site Architecture

The way different levels of pages are designed and the order that they follow is known as IA (information architecture).  Good websites are very well organised and follow specific IA.  They are easy to navigate, uncluttered and above all professional and eye catching.  Work closely with your web developers and key stakeholders in your organisation to ensure that the IA you choose will satisfy all areas of your business and the products you are pushing.  If your IA is too intricate and visitors need to navigate too many pages in order to get the answer they are after, they will lose interest and leave.  Instead, grab their attention – stir their emotions – and easily give them what they need!

Choose an Easy to Use CMS (Content Management System)

When choosing the back end for your website, you need to consider the range of CMS systems out there and work with your developers to select one that will be the easiest for your business to be able to maintain on an ongoing basis post launch.  Think of your website as a “fluid” marketing tool – always needing to be updated, always moving – and something that therefore needs an engine room with the ability to evolve as your business does.  Unless you want to outsource all website changes on an ongoing basis (which can be quite costly), the ideal CMS system for a business would be one that has the ability to set up user permissions and security groups for editing, approval and publishing rights.  This way the content can easily be kept current and pertinent to differing business needs.  Platforms like Wix and Squarespace can be a good fit for companies looking to stay relatively small in size and to only use a few plugins.  However, if you ever outgrow them, transferring all of your site content to a new host can be difficult.   WordPress is an example of a solid CMS platform upon which to build your website empire, with a vast collection of plugins and themes available to users that make future expansion easier.  Finally, be wary of making customisations to themes that have been chosen in your respective content management systems – as these often require coding to maintain and therefore are not as easily actioned as the rest of the changes in the back end of the system.  Try to avoid these where possible – needing a lot of them may mean that you need to work with your developer to choose a theme that caters more to your needs.

Keep Learning and Keep Moving!

Once your website goes live, take the time to really enjoy all that you have accomplished – but remember that your journey is far from over!    There is certainly no doubt that your business will have made a significant and rewarding first step – and for that you should be well pleased.  A company’s website, however, is never really complete.   As mentioned before, you need to think of it as a fluid marketing machine- and the key to continued success is to constantly add or enhance the elements and content within it.  Stay on top of developments in SEO, web applications and mobile design changes/responsivity.   Above all, always remember to keep adapting your website offerings (and for that matter, all your business offerings) to meet the changing market needs of your clients.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more ways that Vincents can help your business gain insight and take control, please contact David Rose our Managing Director and Business Advisory Director.

An Important Message

While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents.  Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

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