Every business needs a unique selling proposition. It needs to stand out from the competition, and attract customers with the outstanding value it's offering.
And the same goes for your website.
Developing an online presence for your business involves completing a five-step process, whether you want to:
- generate leads
- sell online
- provide information about its services
- connect with its vendors electronically
- start an entirely new kind of service.
But if yours is a small company with a small budget, you may have trouble finding the right web designer. You need someone who can reflect your value proposition in the website design, help you sell it to as many people as possible, and create a way to turn those prospects into sales. And all at a price you can afford.
Not an easy task.
What your business website needs
There are five core aspects of a business website:
- The graphic design (i.e. the visual feast that attracts people to your brand)
- The marketing and promotion engine to drive traffic and conversions
- The database that lets you monitor and drive campaigns, and measure the site's performance
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which gives your website the highest ranking possible in search results using your chosen search terms
- The content (i.e. the words you use to promote the business)
At one point these would have all been done by different companies (unless you compromised, in which case the result was usually less than ideal). But these days most web development firms do them all, giving small business web-based marketing methods they can afford.
An effective web-based marketing campaign can give you incredible results turning clicks into conversions. But it's easier said than done. A good web marketing firm will create an entire marketing plan using strategic and tactical methods crafted by specialists and/or consultants to increase sales for your business.
You can now have a website with the same look and usability of your industry leaders without having to spend a fortune. It can also act as a tactical marketing tool, engaging and educating your clients. And it can provide the analytical data you need to give your customers even better service.
To generate more conversions, your website design strategy should include at least some of these features:
- Cutting-edge, tailor-made website design that exposes your products and services to potential clients
- Highly-scalable digital website designs that will grow with your business so you can realise its full potential
- Fully featured e-commerce solutions to help your business deploy a powerful and cost-effective e-commerce store
- Customised search engine optimisation services that meet your needs and goals.
While there are plenty of cheap alternatives (e.g. Fivr), a professional web development firm will do more than just build you a website. They'll:
- Gather relevant information about your business through a systematic data collection process
- Clarify the website requirements in terms of fulfilling the nature and goal of your business
- Perform extensive research to find the best website solution for your budget.
Other factors that can boost your presence on the Internet (and ultimately conversion rates) include:
- Content that's innovative, specific and unique
- Website maintenance to ensure it's displaying information as quickly as possible
- SEO to improve its search engine rankings
- Multimedia presentations, multi-lingual capabilities (if needed) and E-Commerce solutions.
The five steps to success
To create a unique website presentation and ensure the success of your small business, you need to follow these five steps:
1. Clarification. Every website starts with an idea—what’s yours? Is it a new product? Are you redesigning your existing site? Is the business purely cloud or internet based? Do you need any e-commerce functionality? Are you trying to drive traffic to an actual business location?
At this clarification stage, the actions a customer needs to make next should be clearly outlined as the goals of the website. It will become a Key Performance Criteria that measures whether the website is successful.
2. Design. After the initial consultation, the website development firm will solidify your ideas. Using strategic design they’ll create a blueprint for your site, the same way an architect would create a floor plan of a house. It shows you how the website will engage your customers and move them from one area to the next, completing the necessary actions as they go.
3. Development. Each specialist in the team will work on their respective part of the website—creating the graphic design, writing the content, coding the website and designing the database.
4. Web Hosting. A website is an intricate interplay of graphics, text, programming and computer resources. And the last thing you want is for your website to be unavailable. So building your site on a rock-solid web hosting foundation is critical to its success.
5. Website Maintenance. Once your site is up and running, you need to maintain it and perform any necessary updates. You may need to add fresh content and even develop the site further to keep your customers engaged. And don’t forget to review and monitor your site, and measure against your key performance criteria. It will quickly tell you what is (and isn’t) working, and what changes are needed to meet your future needs.
Remember, your website is like any other part of your business: first impressions count. It should be fresh, and communicate the value your brand represents. But it also needs to be functional, and lead your customers towards the goal you want your website to achieve.