Regardless of the size and industry of your business, having a website is essential for growing your business. The fast-paced evolution of the digital era had led to significant changes in consumer behavior. Studies have shown that 63% of shoppers research a company before buying a product. While it may seem that having social media channels and messaging apps suffices to have an online presence, you may miss out on potential opportunities to grow your business. Here are some reasons why your business needs a website:
Establishes brand identity
A website is a front door to your business. It further establishes your business’ identity and brand and makes your business look professional. A website is flexible and customizable to your business’ brand, giving your business an opportunity to truly showcase your products and services, thus developing a tone of voice and an online presence.
Builds business credibility
To establish a prominent online presence with a website, a business will have to implement marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), publicizing customers’ reviews, and building social proof. By doing so, you will increase your business’ credibility and brand recognition which will lead to an increase in loyal customers.
Reaches out to new customers
A functional website acts as a platform to share your business information such as contact details and business locations – it can attract traffic for new customers to view and explore your products and services. There are about 5 billion internet users in the world, and by marketing your business online, a website can help your business to expand and reach out to new customers – essentially building your brand’s awareness.
Develops a comprehensive customer journey
By having a website, you will be able to streamline all customer’s enquiries with tools such as chatbots, contact forms and links to social media. Whether it’s pre-purchase or post-purchase, the response time needed to answer customer’s concerns will be reduced significantly, leading to higher customer satisfaction rate.
Be in business 24/7 and reach out to new demographics
As crazy as it may seem, a website runs 24/7 every day and is available worldwide. With proper planning, your business will reach out to more opportunities and expand its marketing funnels.
Saves time and cost
There are many ways to build a website – with practice, you’re able to build a website from little to no cost, however this method may take up some of your time. You may also opt for hiring a web developer to make the entire process quick and painless, although some may cost quite a sum. Nonetheless, a website is arguably the best marketing tool to invest in as it offers a better return on investment than any other form of advertising.
With millions of active websites available in the world, it’s no longer sufficient to just have a website. A website is one of the most important assets for a business and it’s critical to stand out from the massive competitions online. Here are 10 steps to building a competitive and effective website:
Identify the primary aim of the website
It’s important to know the purpose of the website for your business – whether it’s showcasing your portfolios, services or use it as a platform for ecommerce. With an apparent purpose of the website, you will then be able to properly draw out a suitable plan for your business website.
Deciding on the budget
We often overlook the importance of deciding the budget for building a website. Whether it’s building it yourself or hiring a web developer, the cost of building the website can heavily affect the function and design of the website. If you’re looking to have a functional and fully customized website, you might want to increase your budget, however if you are a small business and have limited budget, you might want to consider other alternatives such as a landing page which directs traffic to instant messaging apps or social media platforms.
Invest in a good domain name
A good domain name is essential to a website, it acts as the entry point for your business website. It should have the following characteristics:
- Easily recognizable and reflects your business. The most common practice is to have your company name as your domain name which further establishes your brand identity.
- Short and easy to spell. Your domain name should be sweet and simple, making it easy for users to access. Avoid using numbers, hyphens and slangs.
- Not taken or trademarked. Ensure to research the domain name you want to see if any similar URL exists and the domain name you want is not trademarked by other organizations.
- Meets your budget. A popular or taken domain name may cost much higher than expected. Be sure to purchase a domain name that meets your budget.
Selecting the right platform to build your website
There are so many ways to build a website depending on the budget, timeline and business needs. Here are some options:
- Using website builders such as Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy Website Builder which are quick and easy with their drag-and-drop system. With a website builder, you’re not required to have any technical knowledge, and it usually includes systems that ensure your website is secured and updated. However, it can be costly in the long run and less flexible as you are required to use readymade templates and signup for annual premium plans to have more functions on your website.
- Creating websites with a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress allows you to choose your own desired web hosting company which can affect the speed, security and technical support for your website. With plugins such as Elementor (click here to get plugin for free) and customizable themes, CMS also provides flexibility in web design and a wide range of functions. CMS requires professionals with technical knowledge and depending on the website’s requirement, it can cost a huge sum to hire a web developer, however it’s more cost effective in the long run as you are only required to pay the web developer to build the website and annual fees up to RM300 for domain and hosting.
- Program a website yourself from scratch – with this, design and functionality will be limitless, however it’s required to be well versed in the coding languages.
Whichever platform you plan on choosing, it’s important to ensure the provider is equipped with security features and that you have SSL installed for your website.
Create wireframe that clearly state your business identity
Before diving into building the website, it’s important to draw out the wireframe of the website to prominently highlight your business’ identity and its unique selling points, ensuring it has a good balance of space, wordings and image ratio. By planning the wireframe, you will be able to properly plan on the contents such as copywriting, images and other elements.
Designing the website
A website is also a tool to further imprint your brand to your target audience hence it’s recommended to include your brand’s logo, colors, font and images when designing the website. Read more about creating a business brand here.
While it’s important to adhere to your brand guidelines, having a good user interface (UI) is a great bonus. When designing a website, keep in mind that the website should be aesthetically pleasing and makes users want to browse further. Having a simple, neat and mobile responsive web design can be a good thing.
What would you like users to do on your website? It’s essential to create a website that is user-friendly and easy to navigate, ultimately building the users’ experience. The website should have a clear call to action – do you want users to fill up contact forms or purchase products on your website? Help users decide by highlighting available actions.
Grow your business further by optimizing and marketing your website. Implementing keywords for search engine optimization and ensuring high-quality content can help your website to be noticed when users research similar keywords on Google. Other tools such as Facebook Ads, Google Search Console and more can also help boost your website’s traffic and generate more potential leads.
One great thing about having a website is that you’re able to run many tests to ensure it has a good user interface, user experience and functionality. Testing your site with A/B testing, Google Mobile-Friendly Test, performance tests and more can help to ensure smooth sailing in the future.
Publish and ensure it’s updated regularly
When it’s time to publish your website, don’t forget to showcase your website on other platforms such as social media, forums and messaging groups – spread the word as far as possible to increase traffic to your website.
After publishing your website, it’s important to continue updating the website regularly. You may use tools such as Google Analytics to determine which areas to improve for your website.
In short, an effective business website is easily one of the most effective and cost-efficient marketing tools. An effective website should excel in both design and function – it should be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate and have clear purpose and function for users to engage and interact. While it’s important to look good for potential customers, an effective website should also have functions that can significantly help your business grow.