Creating your first business website can be an intimidating task to many business owners with grand visions. The reality today is, many people will Google you to learn about your business before they consider handing anything more than a few dollars to you. You may have done this yourself (you may even be doing it now).
Do I really need a website?
No, but it really helps. Many people will Google you to learn about your business before they consider handing anything more than a few dollars to you. You may have done this yourself and you may even be doing it now.
I have seen people take a number of different approaches to creating the content for their website. Here are a few strategies that can help you get started:
- Create By Example: Visit other websites and deciding what would be good on your own site. Although this can be very useful, it can also be very time consuming as most websites are, well, not very inspiring. Although I have done this myself, my recommendation is to put a hard limit on either the number of websites you visit or the amount of time you are going to do this for.
- Take a Best Guess: Unless you have some previous experience in creating marketing materials, chances are only your most dedicated friends will take the time to read everything you have to write about your business.
- Outsource the Project: If you are going to have someone make you a website, either choose someone who will ask questions about your business and your clients and will keep you involved in the process or hire someone who has experience with and a good understanding of businesses in your particular industry.
- Start with a Basic Business Website: Unless you have lot of time, energy and money to spend, or your business is based on on-line sales, start with the basics and then let your website evolve to meet your business needs. If you are in a service industry, at the beginning you won't get a lot of customers through your website. Websites are not a case ofBuild it and they will come. You will need to promote it to search engines and social media sites. Start with the basics and then focus your valuable time, money and energy into other areas that have the potential to make a bigger impact.
What ever your grand vision is for your website, and move on to doing what you love to do best - building your business and serving your customers. The secret to making it happen is to KISS (Keep it Short and Simple, not KISSing your way up!). Start with the basics. Rome wasn't built in a day and your website will evolve over time as a reflection of your business.
What Makes up a Basic Business Website?
Here is the basic layout of most service oriented websites:
- The Home (or Welcome) page
- The Services (and/or Products) page
- The About Us page
- The Contact Us page
If you are on a tight budget, you could even start with something simpler, the basic business card presence on a single web page. I call it a business card site because it contains little more than the information on your busines card. It could however also contain links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube pages. Really great ones also include a small form for people to sign up to your opt-in mailing list to build that up.
Otherwise, consider putting each section on separate pages. Your choices will also be based on how comfortable you are at doing this and how much time you have available. If you put it all on a single page, it should appear in the above order.
Remember, each hour you spend mucking about creating your website is one hour less you will be billing your clients.
The Home (or Welcome) page
- What are your clients problems? If you've done your homework, you should know that most people who are in business have pain points, problems or unpleasant task that they have to deal with but would rather not, things that keep them away from doing what they love or would rather be doing.
- What is your solution? Describe ways you can simply and easily take away their pain, or at least significantly reduce it.
- Paint a positive vision: What will the benefit be to them if they hire you? As a result of hiring XYZ, you will... and describe it.
- Who are you to be trusted? It is said that 70% of people don't believe what businesses say. That's why social media, blogs and testimonials are so powerful these days. If everyone is saying great things about you and your services, everyone can be wrong?
Your Home page only has a few seconds to affect their decision to stay and read on, or to move on. Keep it short, keep it relevant and stay focused. Shorter sentences, bullet points, active verbs, adjectives and strategically placed keywords are your friend.
This page and your Contact Us page are the two most important pages on your website.
Single Page Option: This should be in a column next to the Contact Us page content.
The Services and/or Products page
This is where you can go into a description of the services you offer. It is an opportunity to expand on what you were talking about on the home page.
Single Page Option: This should be below the Home page content with a link navigation link below the contact us section in the sidebar.
The About Us page
Think of this page as the "Why You?" page. What makes you or your company qualified to serve your potential clients? Who have you worked for? Can you mention any companies others might have heard of? Which of your values do you customers really like?
Single Page Option: This should be below the Products and/or Services page content with a link navigation link below the contact us section in the sidebar.
The Contact Us page
What's the main purpose of having your website? To get business and, unless you are just selling products on-line, you want people to contact you. As such, Contact Us is the call to action for your website. It's the whole reason for your website. Without this information, you may as well not have a web site. How can they reach you? How can they learn more? How can they get answers to their questions?
Tip: I highly recommend you include your telephone number on each and every page of your website. Don't give people a reason not to call. Just be sure to have voice mail for those times when you are not available.
Single Page Option: This should be in a column (or sidebar) next to the Home page content.
IMPORTANT: Get your website up first and then consider adding optional pages over time... or hire someone to add them for you.
Resources, articles (or Blog) or testimonials: Anything else you put on your public facing website should be meant to enhance your credibility and show them that you know what you are talking about. Consider posting your articles on other websites and including a link back to your website. This will now only increase the ranking of your website with search engines, you'll be getting greater exposure by being visible in places that people are already visiting regularly. Once you get proficient at this, post teasers on the articles site and the then full article in the Blog/Articles section of your own website.
Newsletter sign-up or Free Giveaway form: These are more advanced tools meant to build up your mailing list which you can then use to send out newsletters and special offers which is meant to remind your client and potential clients in mind, encouraging them to hire you or refer you.
That's it! Unless you are trying to have an authoritative reference website or sell products online, which can be both very costly and time consuming, this is what your clients will expect to find when they come to your website. Remember: KISS! (keep it simple and straightforward)