Your Business Website Part 2: Making A Plan
You know who your customers are. You know where to find them. You know your product. But before you get ahead of yourself, sit down with a pencil and paper. It’s time to do some organizational planning.
Decide What’s Most Important
Think about the information that most of your visitors will get the most out of. They’ll probably want to readily access your location, as well as a contact number and email address. They might want to review the span of your products or services. They might want a brief history of your company.
Depending on your specific area of business, your customers may want to be able to access a pricing guide, previous customers’ testimonials, the history of your company, or your Better Business Bureau rating. The goal is to anticipate the common questions visitors will have when accessing your website, and to deliver that information to them cleanly and intuitively.
Organization: Don’t Be Confusing
Now that you’ve come up with all of these great ideas for content for your online business, you’re going to want to put as much of it on your homepage, out there in plain view, as possible—right? Wrong. Remember this: white space is your friend.
Think about the billboard we made in Part 1. Billboards contain very few words for one simple reason: drivers-by can only take in so much information at a time. Think of your website in these terms: your visitors will quickly scan the page and make a snap decision—they’ll either leave immediately, or they’ll stop the car and pull over and take a gander.
It helps to think of your website as one big, logically organized filing system. The greatest content in the world isn’t going to matter if it’s hard for your visitors to find what they’re trying to find. The content of a great website isn’t all crammed in one place—it lies tucked away in (hopefully) the very spot visitors would look for it. No one should have to click more than a few times, if that, to figure out what your company offers or how to contact you.
The Three C’s: Clean, Coherant Copy
There’s bad news, and there’s good news. The bad news: regardless of what you’re selling—gutters, pet care, interior design, you name it—and regardless of how little spelling and grammar have to do with your product, customers are inherantly attracted to a company that knows how to put its best face forward. If your website is strewn with typos and broken links, visitors will conclude that you’ll give them the same attention that you give your website or deliver a product at a similar level of quality.
The good news: You don’t need to be an expert in everything. Always have a second set of eyes go over anything—websites or otherwise—that your potential customers are going to see. If you’re not sure how to start, there are plenty of companies out there who can provide clean, professional, polished copy. We love Legal Research Center, because no matter what stage of the game you’re in, they can pick up wherever you left off. Just hand them your notes and watch your website come to life!
You’re probably already aware that you’re going to have to pay someone to design your business website, but depending on your options, there are other costs you’ll need to keep in mind.
Do you already have a domain name? Are you using your own images or stock photography, or do you need to license your images? Will you start a company blog? Do you already have a logo, or will someone need to create one from scratch—or tweak it so it looks as great on a website as it does on your letterhead? Will you copyright your website? If you’re integrating social media, who is going to be maintaining it? Are you using a shared server or a dedicated server? Will you be relying on organic traffic (SEO), paying for ads (SEM), or simply pointing existing customers to your site?
All of these answers are going to affect your bottom line, so be aware.
[This series, which began with Part 1: Gathering Data, continues with Part 3: Designing Your Website.]
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