With research showing that most business owners are forced to overhaul their websites within a year of going live, here are some tips to help get the design right at the first attempt.
These tips were provided by Lucy Smith, director of Small Business Websites, which designs, builds, hosts and launches websites for start-ups and small businesses who are on a budget.
Finding a web designer
First of all, you need to find a website designer. If you have previous experience in website design and construction, then using a DIY website builder can help to bring costs down and you keep the creative control. That said, few of us have enough technical experience or a designers eye to do this well and you can waste time getting to grips with such systems. Badly designed websites can put customers off and make you look unprofessional, which is worse than having no website at all!
Investing in a professional website designer gives you the time to focus on building your business and leaves the job with someone who is adept at design and web functionality. It’s a good idea to check out the portfolios of different web designers to see what types of websites they design and build and whether that matches what you’d like. Make a note of what features they offer that you like, such as a blog or an image gallery, social media feeds and contact us forms
Know your business
Who knows your business better than you do? Ensure you have a clear, succinct description of your business and what you do. Think about what you tell friends or new customers when you describe what you do, and tell your designer the same thing.
It’s also critical that you give your designer a description of your typical customer (your target audience) to help your designer create a look that is appealing and attractive. A 16 year old teenager will be attracted to something very different to a 60 year old construction worker. A good designer will interpret your descriptions and create something that catches the imagination of your target audience.
Get a few ideas together before you approach your designer
Check out websites that you often frequent to get a few ideas about what you like or dislike. Even though a designer may be doing all the work for you, they still need to get an idea of what style reflects you and your business.
Your competitors should be the first stop for inspiration. Make a note of what they’ve done well and what you’d like to do better. It’s best to get as much information as possible about your competitors and their websites as this will help you and your designer create a website that stands out.
What do you want your website visitors to do when they get there?
Your website should have a purpose. Think about what you want your visitors and potential customers to do when they get to your website.
Do you want them to:
- Contact you by email, phone, or via a contact form?
- Find you on a map and visit you?
- Download a document?
- Buy something?
- Simply find out more information about your products and/or services?
It’s possible that you will want them to do multiple things from the list above. Put them in a priority order.
What should you pay?
Websites vary in cost and the price you are quoted will very much depend upon what you need. How many pages you require, the level of functionality you need, and whether you are happy with a template layout or would prefer a bespoke design will all affect the price.
Take a look at what services are included with each web designer. Some will only cover the design, which means you’d need to organise the build, the hosting and the domain name, as well as any maintenance that may be required afterwards. It will usually be more cost effective to buy a complete package which includes all of these elements, and doing this will keep the whole process much more simple for you.
Getting a website up and running is no small task. Breaking it down into chunks makes the process much more manageable and discussing everything with your web designer will ensure you are on the same page and the process is as pain free as possible.
Try Bytestart’s tips for setting up a small business website for further inspiration.