Designing Your Business Website

 

The Closet Entrepreneur by Kendra Leah Fuller

By , @Writing2Day

I recently had a conversation with a newbie to the world of e-commerce that really brought to mind some of the mistakes people can make when first bringing their business online. For those of us who can not afford to pay a web designer, we find ourselves tasked with building our own website. And, take it from someone who has evolved from a self-taught beginner, there are many mistakes that can be made from concept to design and implementation.

The business mentioned above is selling home-made goat’s milk soaps straight from their farm here in South Dakota. They are currently utilizing a Facebook fan page as a means of advertising and selling their product with some success. Kudos, they are using social marketing which many existing online retailers have yet to embrace. The problem here is if they are serious about growing their online business, they need an e-commerce website.

Bear in mind I am not picking on this lady, she is a dear friend. Rather our conversation reminded me what it’s like to start at ground zero. Her partner has “dabbled” with a little bit of web design which is good, she should know some basics. But when asked what she had mind for their website, the reply was “We want to keep it folksie.”

I don’t have a problem with “folksie.” Folksie is good as long as it’s done right. Do it poorly and you will have a website that screams amatuer and why should I trust your company to do business with. I don’t know you from boo and judging by the look of your website, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Often times beginners make the mistake of thinking their business website is about them. It’s not! It’s about the product or service you provide. This needs to be front and center – that is why people will come to your website. You can tell people more about yourself and your company on an “About Us” page that people can choose to read by clicking on it. Use the overall look and feel of your site to convey the message that you want to send.

Have you ever opened a website that literally gave you a headache just to look at it? I have literally cringed and clicked away as fast as I could. Think about what went wrong here. Way too much clutter? Too small of font, too large, hard to read style, too many different types of fonts? Dark background with neon lettering? Blinking banners & buttons, flash movies without an option to go anywhere else until the movie ends? Music? Pictures that take too long to load. The list goes on…

Before you get started, here are a couple of things to think about and keep in mind as you design your website.

1. What is the goal of your website?
If you are selling a product or service then sales is your goal. Are you advertising your restaurant, bed & breakfast, or pet grooming services? Then the goal of your website is to drive traffic to your physical location. Know and understand the role your website is going to play in your business.

2. What do you need to make those goals happen?
If you are selling product online, you are going to need a shopping cart system with secure checkout, credit card processing, etc. PayPal is also a good alternative to someone getting started. Relying on people to pick up the phone and call or fax in an order is going to lose you sales.

3. Who is your target audience?
Always design your website for your audience. Who are they? If they are looking for natural products, we are going to want a design that appeals to this. Looking for professional services? Again, your website should reflect your professionalism. 18-25 year olds? Keep it fun, learn some of the latest technologies and keep them engaged.

4. Choose a domain name.
If your business name is Get Goats Milk try to get the corresponding name: www.getgoatsmilk.com. Always try to get the .com extension as opposed to .biz or .net. People will try to remember your business name and type it into their browser and they will always try .com. When putting up a new website, I go to www.networksolutions.com to find available domain names.

5. You will need web hosting.
If you are selling product online you will need to make sure that the host you choose can run your shopping cart software. Most new ventures do not need a dedicated server, a shared server will work fine. Nor should you have to pay an arm and a leg for reliable hosting. You should expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-40 per month depending on your needs, perhaps even less. Some very reliable hosting solutions I have used in the past are networksolutions.com, godaddy.com, cybrhost.com, web.com and appliedi.net.

6. Please, please, please use your email that comes with your domain hosting! It adds to your credibility online. If your domain name is www.getgoatsmilk.com use yourname@getgoatsmilk.com, please do not use getgoatsmilk@hotmail.com. If you can’t figure out how to set this up, your hosting company will generally help you.

7. Keep your site design simple and design for the goals of your website and your audience. Make sure it loads fast for your visitors. Be wary of too many and slow loading images, flash buttons, etc., they can bog your site down. Be sure your font is large enough for people to read and only use 1 or 2 different font styles.

8. Unless you know how to write code from scratch, you will need a web design program. I personally use Macromedia Dreamweaver and highly recommend it. If you have any experience at all, the learning curve is quite simple.

There are the basics. I hope it has helped some of you who are getting ready to take your business online. Bear in mind that once you build your website and get it up and running, you will need to concentrate on getting it found online. There are some things to think about when writing your content that will help you in the natural search engine results. I will write about these in a separate post.

See Related Posts:  #webdesign #webhosting #domainnames #ecommerce #shoppingcarts

 

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