I know you’re itching to get started, but a little thought and planning up front will go a long long way to making it a success…
what makes a good website?
overview of the key steps to making a good and effective website:
- Research your target customers.
Be clear about who is going to buy your product or service. Put your self in their shoes and think clearly why they will come to you. What is the problem that you will be the solution for? What search phrases might they be using? What makes a good website for them?
- Research your competition.
What are you going to do that is different and better than your competition? What will be your USP – your Unique Selling Point? To know this you need to know what your competition are offering and who they are targeting. Your USP will form a key part of your content and targeting. Once you know who they are targeting you can look to either win them over or target a slightly different customer segment.
- Design Your Website.
Don’t get distracted by the sizzle or pizazz of the look of your site, try not to do too much thinking about the look just yet. Instead focus on deciding the broad areas of content of your site and the organisation. Start from the point of view of communicating how you are the solution to the need. Out of that will come the pages and structure of your site. The structure will determine how users will get to each page, the navigation.
This is best drawn as a series of boxes and connecting lines on a large sheet of paper. For this site I drew a box for each of my main subject ares (the problems that my visitors are looking to solve): making a website, improving website conversion rates and getting websites found. I then went on to expand each of these areas, adding and discarding various elements as I went along. I added to this an About Me, Contact page, my blog and of course details about how to engage or buy my services. This evolved into a home page that clearly focussed on 3 needs with the other elements forming the top menu.
It may not seem so at first but this is a very creative process. As you design, so lots of ideas and key phrases will come into your head, note them down for use later. A combination of creativity and structure goes a long way to make a good website.
Also start to think about a name for your site (see below).Having followed these steps you will also have gone a long way to formulating your online marketing strategy:
- You have a good idea of who you are going to target.
- You have a message highlighting your unique selling point.
- You have a clear idea of how your website is going to demonstrate that you have the solution to your target customers problem.
Create Your ContentAs you went through the previous steps, thoughts, ideas and key phrases will have come into your head that will form part of your content. Make a note of them all. This is part of the creative process.The writing process is now just a question of recording those thoughts in a logical and coherent form (you can do this in Microsoft Word or similar). Don’t worry about getting it spot on first time. This is a repetitive process where you will add relevant images and take away superfluouswords.
Keep the main content short and to the point allowing the user to choose to see more detail if they wish, I achieved this by using a click to reveal more technique, illustrated in my website marketing consultant home page screenshots below, which also adds a little sizzle. Unless you are writing an article, web users rarely read the entire page, they scan looking for key pieces of information that may provide the solution to their need.
The message that your content conveys is ‘Yes you are in the right place, you can solve your problem here’.
You may wish to engage the services of a copy writer or myself to help you.
Having followed these steps I hope you now have a sense that there is a big difference between a nice looking glossy website and a good website that meets the needs of your target customers in a unique way and so actually works for your business. You are now incredibly well placed to go ahead and make a good website.
- Making Your Site.
Now you know who you are targeting and the content that you are going to use. So you are ready to start making your site.Options:
- Hand it all over to a web design/development agency. These charge varying amounts depending on the services used and often charge additional fees for changes. Ensure that you are not putting any barriers between yourself and being able to add to and change your site.
- Ask a friend or family member to do it for free. Before you follow this route ensure that you will be able to easily make updates to your site and your friend knows how to make the site visible to search engines.
- If you have the time then learn how to create your own site using a content management system (wordpress and joomla!, used to create this site, are common) and learn how to make the site visible to search engines, however, if this is not really an area of expertise for you then it will most likely be more cost effective for you to spend your time on your day job and pay an expert to build it for you. Which brings me nicely to my favoured option.
- Pay a freelancer such as myself to take your content, your design thoughts, your identified targets and your U.S.P and blend that together into a search optimised, content managed website built for you. Check out how I make a website for business success. Or even to show you how to use a content management system to do it yourself.
These are the basics for starting your own website. Once you have made good progress on these you can start to consider other factors such as how your site will get found (search engine optimization), promoting your site, making your content targeted and compelling to generate sales. Other articles on web-marketing-advisor will help you with this.
- Other Considerations
Naming Your Site
Once you have a clear idea of the message of the content of your site you can begin to research the availability of a name for your site, this is known as a domain name (like www.web-marketing-advisor.co.uk).
It is quite likely that your preferred name is already taken, so it is a good idea to build up a list of possibilities and secure a name that will be your published trading name. You don’t want to be known as XYZ company only to find that someone else has already taken the XYZ.co.uk domain name.
Finding a Place For Your Site on the Internet
You will need to purchase a web hosting package from a hosting company and a domain name.
There are companies that offer free hosting but these have drawbacks such as having to include the host name in your domain name, less than ideal and does not give off a professional image.
There are lots of different hosting companies with package sizes to suit the needs of your site and include domain registration.
The hosting site will typically provide a means of transferring the files that make up your site from your local computer to the web host, often this will be by means of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software.
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