If you’re starting up a new business or are simply looking to promote your business online, building a website is the perfect solution. By creating a digital presence online, potential customers will be able to find out about your products and services and gain a good understanding of your business ethos and culture.
But creating a website is something that needs thorough consideration and detailed planning before any design and development work can take place. Here is our advice on what you need to consider to plan a successful website…
1. Target Audience:
First of all, clearly define your target audience. Consider different characteristics of your target audience and create a profile for each group…
- If they are businesses, what type and size are they? Where are they based? What factors drive their decisions?
- If they are end consumers, are they predominantly male or female? What sort of age group are they? What are their interests and what influences their buying decisions?
Having a clear definition of your target audience will help you to plan the content of your website.
2. Competitor Review:
The extent of the internet has made it very easy for more and more people to set up new businesses without incurring vast start-up costs. In order to ensure your website will be competitive in the marketplace, it’s important to spend some time reviewing your competition.
Search for potential competitors using different words and phrases that are relevant to your business and product range.
Make a list of at least the top 10 competitors and have a good browse through their websites. Compare your product range to theirs, check out pricing (if relevant) and see what tone of voice and design they are using to capture visitors’ attention.
Whilst looking through their websites, make a note of any ideas that spring to mind that you could incorporate on your website to differentiate yourself and make your site stand out from the competition.
Whatever type of business you run, it’s important to consider what information your website should contain. Put yourself in the shows of your target audience and think about what they would like to know to ensure they are approaching a professional and reputable company.
In general, potential customers will want to know following:
- An overview of your company: what you do, size of company, where you are based, your core values and what makes you different from your competition.
- Information on your product/service range: a detailed description on each of your products or services that provides visitors with everything they need to know to make an informed decision.
- Delivery information: if you are an online retailer, customers will want to know about delivery – how long it will take for their items to arrive and how much does it cost.
- Examples of previous customers: particularly if you are a service provider, potential customers will want to know who else you have worked for and that they have had a positive experience.
- How to contact you: how they can get in touch with you by telephone or email if they have a general enquiry or are looking for a cost quotation.
4. Applications / Functionality:
In addition to information that will be incorporated in a text format, think about whether there are any additional applications or functionality you would like to include.
Depending on your business, it might be helpful to provide your customers with a calculator that provides them with additional information to help their purchases. Some examples of popular calculators available on the internet today include:
- Energy calculators – that work out how much fuel you are using and savings achievable if you switch suppliers.
- Mortgage/loan calculators – that allow you to see how much money you could borrow and monthly repayment rates.
- Paint calculators – that allow you to input information on the room you are decorating and works out how many tins of paint you need.
Other ideas of functionality that you may want to consider are:
- Downloadable brochures / catalogues / useful documents
- Image library
- A blog
- Online registration for something, eg, for an event or to set up a user account
- A news portal that allows you to publish regular updates
- Links to your social networking pages
- Payment processing if you are setting up an ecommerce website
If there is something completely bespoke that you require for your website, try to document it in a diagram format that your future design agency and developer can work from.
5. Website Structure:
Once you have a good idea of what information you want to include on your website, it’s important to consider how the site might be structured. Your site needs to be clear and easy to navigate so that visitors can find the information they need as quickly and easily as possible so they don’t get frustrated and go elsewhere.
Here is an example of how a typical website structure might look:
HOME: A brief introduction to the company and products – use strong call-to-actions
ABOUT US: A more detailed description of the company
PRODUCTS/SERVICES: A detailed breakdown of products or services
NEWS: Regular news stories and articles
CONTACT US: Information on how customers can get in touch
6. Tone of Voice and Style:
Although you will now have a good idea of what information you need to include on your website, it’s a good idea to consider what sort of style your website should take and the tone of voice that should be used to communicate with your visitors.
If, for example, you are a supplier of decorative items for the home, do you want your site to be in a contemporary or traditional style?
If you are a business provider, do you want your site to be wholly professional or have a fun element to it?
The style that you choose for your website is key as it will make that all important first impression on your visitors.
7. Search Engine Optimisation / Key Words:
Last but not least, as part of your website planning process, have a think about what words and phrases your potential customers might use within search engines to source your products. It might not be a single word, it might be a combination of words that helps users to find a specific product or service in a particular geographical area.
Make a list of at least the top 10 key words and phrases. These will need to be incorporated into your section headers, page titles and text throughout your website to help you be found on search engines such as Google. But remember, it’s important not to make text to spammy and be sure to be natural in your communication approach.
At myCloud Media we have vast experience in Website Design, building CMS, ecommerce and mobile websites on behalf of our clients. If you would like help planning a website for your business, contact us on 0800 849 0888 or visit our Website.
Article by : Tim Bennett