With more and more people turning to the internet to source their purchases and find information in this modern age of technology, an online presence is considered critical for any business to succeed. Although most of us have some sort of experience with Social Media by now, the idea of having your own website may still be a little overwhelming. Relax; with a little information you’ll be well on your way to success.
What Type of Website Do I Need?
The first thing you will need to decide, before you create your website, is what you want the website to achieve. This will form the basis for all your other website design decisions and is therefore the most critical step. Here is a breakdown of the various options available:
Standard One Page Website:
This can basically be described as a one-page advert that provides the viewer with all the information they need. It shows visitors what you are about and how to contact you.
Standard Multi-Page Website:
A multi-page website can range from two to any number of pages. This type of site is usually required when you need to convey more information to your viewers. Common features include things like a Home page, About Us, Contact Form, Blog and any other pages relevant to your business.
An e-commerce website is a must if you are planning to sell various products online and is specifically designed to create an exciting and easy shopping experience for visitors. Common features of an e-commerce website include a Home page, Products – divided into categories, Contact page and, most importantly, a payment portal.
Some businesses are more complex and may require a website that not only provides visitors with relevant information, but also allows users to perform certain functions on the website. This would be any website that requires the user to create a profile and login to make use of certain functions on the site. Think of websites offering online courses, websites that allow a person to sell second-hand items or even social media platforms.
Now that you’ve figured out what type of website you need, it’s time to figure out how you are going to go about the website design process. There are two ways you can go about this:
- Do it yourself
- Get someone to do it for you
Do it Yourself
There are several companies out there that now allow you to build your very own website. These platforms usually offer a selection of pre-designed templates you can edit to suite your style.
Additional applications can usually be purchased to add functions such as shopping carts or live chat. These are a great option for people who have some experience with computers and enjoy a hands-on approach, however there are some downfalls to this option:
- Initial start-up packages are usually cheap or even free, however as soon as require anything slightly more advanced, it will start to cost you a monthly subscription which can quickly add up
- You will also need to do all your own updates and maintenance. Regular updates are critical in keeping your website fresh and interesting. They are also an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization. If you’re already run off your feet, updating your website will be one of the first things that gets neglected and this will ultimately cause your business to suffer.
- It’s not always easy to get the support you need when you have questions or get stuck. You will usually have to search for the answer yourself or log a ticket and wait patiently for someone to get back to you
Get someone to do it for you
Using the services of a web design company will probably cost you almost the same as using a site builder, whilst also providing you with all the necessary support. With the plethora of companies out there offering various pricing options, you’ll be sure to find one that works for you.
Web design companies have professional programmers, search engine optimisation services, graphic designers and other experts at hand to assist you in building the perfect website. They also offer monthly maintenance options that will take the load of doing regular updates off you.
Having an amazing website for your business is the first big step towards success. Think of your website as your shop front, it’s the tangible space that draws customers in and invites them to spend their money. But before people can come to your shop, they need to find you and this is where Search Engine Optimisation fits in.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
You’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimisation somewhere and know that it’s important for your website, but what is it and how does it work?
Search Engine Optimisation is a method of optimising your website to make search engines like Google find it easily when somebody searches for your product. Ideally you want your website to rank as highly as possible on search results pages, with the ultimate goal being the first page. For example, if you are a photographer in Johannesburg and somebody searches “Photographer Johannesburg” you want your website to be listed on top of all your competitors. The best way to achieve this is by generating organic traffic to your website.
So, what is organic traffic you may ask? Organic traffic are those people that find your website on their own, without paid advertising. But you don’t just want people visiting your site you want them to buy your product. To achieve this you need to ensure that your site contains relevant content, informative blogs and plenty of links.
Search Engine Optimisation is not a speedy process and it takes time to really start working. If your website is brand new, then it will require regular updates and a several months to start ranking anywhere near the top, especially if you are in a competitive industry.
Search engines constantly change their ranking criteria. Their goal is to provide the user with the best search results possible and they also want to make money from paid placements. You’ll really have to stay on top of things if you decide to go it alone.
If you don’t have the time to learn the nitty gritty of Search Engine Optimisation and do the work it takes to get your website ranking, it’s well worth investing in a SEO package offered by a reputable web design company.
This being said, be very wary of search engine optimisation consultants promising to rank your website on the first page of Google within a month or two. These consultants often make use of unscrupulous methods to achieve these results, causing the search engine to blacklist your site. As the adage goes, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is!
You don’t rank anywhere yet, how do you get your website noticed?
You have a new website or you’re in a very competitive industry, how do you stand a chance against the big guns who’ve been doing S.E.O. for years and who have tons of money to throw at marketing?
The answer is a simple one: Google AdWords. Google AdWords is paid advertising that allows your business to jump to the top of Google when someone looks for a specific keyword that you’ve paid for. Google puts values on words depending on their popularity. Bids are placed on these words and the website with the best bid ranks the highest.
The good news is that the best bid doesn’t necessarily mean the highest bid, it means the bid that will give the user the best search experience. This means that if your website has been search engine optimised, you stand as good a chance as anyone else.
Making use of Google AdWords may seem easy at first, but if you don’t use it well you may quickly find yourself losing a lot of money with very little results. It is highly recommended that you either make the effort to undergo proper AdWords training yourself or get a qualified professional to help. An AdWords professional may charge a little commission, but it will be well worth it when compared to the financial losses resulting from an ineffective campaign.
An AdWords certified professional:
- Has gone through the hours of training required to get certified
- Keeps up to date with the ever-changing consumer trends
- Knows how to target your ads specifically to individuals who are most likely to buy your product or service
Remember, you pay for every click, the bad ones too!
Whether you’re a small start-up or a well-established business needing an online presence, there’s no need to get overwhelmed by all the complicated web design terminology out there. Take some time to think about the type of website you need and research your options whilst taking the following into consideration:
- How much time do you have now and in the future?
- The costs involved in developing the type of website you need to operate your business successfully
- The results you want to achieve with your website and the timeframe in which you want to achieve these results
Once you have a clear picture of what you want and what you need to do to achieve your goals, then there’s nothing left to do but get started!