I get it. Websites get expensive. In my husband’s business, he hired some kids to create a site that charged $6K for a drag and drop site that didn’t really encompass the brand message. Why? They half assed their research and ended up being one of those “companies” who were more about the design and less about the purpose.
Don’t get me wrong, design is super important for a website, but if you don’t start with a branding plan, your website (and the money you spend on it) is completely useless.
What’s the point of having a website these days anyway? It’s simple. Just like you have a body that you operate your life in, your website is your business’s body. Even if you have a physical location, there is no way that you will survive today without one (a website!). If you’re not online, customers just won’t find you.
Don’t over think it either. It can be basic, with a home page, about, contact, and a page or two about your offering. Sure, there are tons of fun features a website can host, but if you don’t really need it, don’t include it.
Your website also serves as a point of return for all of your marketing efforts. If you choose to do social media, send out email newsletters, or any other kind of promotion, feeding these tactics back to your website helps you track actual results. I run events in our town and without fail, our downtown website traffic spikes 1,000% before and during each event. The promotions we run, plus the direction back to the website helps us determine the exact interest and response.
There are several things to think about when getting a website started. Here are a few of my tips for getting started when building a website:
- Pick a URL that’s easy to remember. It will be so much harder for customers to find you when your web address is a mishmosh of letters followed by .com. It may be long, but if you’re looking for Downtown Marketing Group, then go to DowntownMarketingGroup.com, not DwntnMktgGrp.com. Think about how it will look when you start sending out postcards and email blasts! Make it look good and easy to remember.
- Choose a platform you can easily update on your own. There is nothing worse than hiring a company to make a website for you and when they decide they don’t to websites anymore, you have no idea how to update anything. If you choose to do one yourself with a simple platform like Wix.com, that will give you the most control. But if you want to take it a few steps up, WordPress websites are easy to update on your own. Make sure whatever company you hire gives you the tools and guidance to access your website whenever you please.
- Work with a hosting company that will grow with you. One of the most popular out there is GoDaddy.com, but there are tons of web hosting companies you can use to manage your site and email. Do your research and stick with a company that will help you when you have technical difficulties and one that doesn’t tend to have problems.
- Add on Google Analytics immediately. Or if there is another analytical tool you prefer to use, get it associated with your website right away. This will help you see how and why your site went from new to tons of visitors every month. Plus you’ll be able to see how long they are sticking around, what page they leave from, and how they got to you in the first place. All crucial data to help you refresh your website content regularly.
- Don’t launch without content. Content is still one of the most crucial aspects of website success, and when done right, can make a huge difference in website traffic. Making sure you optimize your content for search engines and complete the data on business profiles and listings helps connect the dots for Google. You want people to search for and actually find you online. Otherwise, why are you wasting your time?
- Don’t ever own a web address and use a gmail email address. This one is a pet peeve. If you own PizzaHut.com, why is your email address BobPizzaHut@gmail.com??? Most of the time, if there is an extra cost to add one email to your hosting plan, its not much. In fact, most hosting companies provide one email for free. Use it! Your credibility goes up a million points when you are Bob@PizzaHut.com.
- Put your web address on everything. Its just like having a store front and never telling anyone the street address. You can’t really push your website enough, so make sure whatever you print, say, or do, your web address is there for all to see.
There are loads more tips and thoughts about web design and branding, but these points can get you started. Yes, do what you can to do your own website, but if you need or want help, make sure you go with a credible company that won’t charge you an arm and a leg.