In the digital age, your business website must send the same message once primarily conveyed by your business office and print-media advertising. So a clean, easily accessible, customer friendly location, supported by attractive publicity with clear details of your business products and services and a persuasive invitation to purchase, is now just as important on the ‘virtual high street’ as it is elsewhere in the commercial marketplace. Applying these same principles to creating a professional-looking website is the secret to building an effective web presence and promoting your business idea to the world.
Determine your business aims and target group
To ‘sell’ your business and capture customers, you must first clarify the major purpose your website seeks to achieve. In practice, this means simply defining how you want your customers to behave. This might involve, for example, (a) purchasing a product or service, (b) making telephone contact or (c) signing up to a blog or newsletter. Even at this stage, that will help you to create an appropriate call to action using language designed to deliver your primary aim. For instance, using the previous examples, that means visually prominent buttons labelled ‘buy …’, ‘call …’ or ‘sign up …’ respectively.
Similarly, you must establish the defining characteristics of the group you plan to address. Depending on your business idea, features such as age, location, language, income, lifestyle will be important factors you must take into account. This imagined target audience is the population group to whom your website must appeal at first glance in order to accomplish your business goals.
Keeping these two guiding principles firmly in mind will ensure your website remains clean, clutter-free and always reflects information and trends important to your demographic market.
Map the structure
The macro-level organisation of your site governs how visitors will engage with your enterprise. For most websites this means a framework offering a homepage plus subpages covering essentials like ‘contact us’, ‘about us’, ‘services’, ‘prices’ and ‘customer testimonials’. These will provide details every visitor expects, and familiar headings will make the gathering of core information as quick and easy as possible.
Search engines and site content
It’s not just potential visitors who will be scanning your pages to check whether it’s worth spending time browsing your site, Google and other search engines will do the same. In fact, it’s those hopefully positive search engine rankings which are most likely to signpost visitors to your website in the first place. However, Google & Co will only do this if you are prudent enough to identify and include keywords and phrases your target audience commonly use in searches to find businesses like yours. Here it is advisable to do some careful research, including examining rival websites, to discover which of these elements are most relevant and how they might be used in the context of your own site.
Wix website builders note that the average visitor will only read 28% of the material available on your website, so it is important to focus on attractive visual quality throughout. Ideally, you will have a well-designed and highly visible logo, or have one professionally designed, and any photo images used on your site should be high-quality originals. When used for context-specific purposes these give a much better impression than generic stock photos – if you can use a professional photographer that’s better still. Similar comments apply to video content where visitors will equate the quality of your clips with the calibre of what your business offers. When using text, the emphasis should be on short informative sections with relevant sub-headings, enabling browsing visitors to quickly locate the information they need.
Launching your digital presence requires a trio of enabling web technologies. Firstly, you will need to register a paid-for domain name so potential customers can find your site, then you will need to engage a web-hosting service to place your site on the web, and finally you will need to decide which software programme to use as a website design platform. To further clarify these concepts Wix website builders suggest you look upon a domain name as your business ‘address’, and think of a web-hosting service as being the ‘rent’ you pay on that address.
Historically, building a professional business website has demanded complex coding skills to set up, edit and maintain the elements of your web presence. Thankfully, via the use of easy-to-understand templates, Wix and others have made it possible for contemporary businesses to achieve the same results without resorting to such dark arts. In fact, Wix can offer a business web-building package which includes web hosting and web security, and also provides you with a domain name which is free for the first 12 months.
For those daunted by the prospect of creating a design from scratch, Wix templates offer a huge library of templates covering almost every kind of business enterprise. A business focused template will offer a coherent design incorporating a set of web elements appropriate to your business needs. These elements can then be modified – for example by choosing fonts, colours, images and other features to reflect the particular brand image you wish your site pages to present.
Design expertise can shed light on important decisions, and Wix designers highlight the importance of giving careful consideration to the ‘visual hierarchy’. In essence, this is the way a typical visitor scans pages on your site – usually from top to bottom and from left to right. That in turn implies your most important customer messages should be placed in the top left page quadrant to obtain maximum prominence. Likewise, your site layout should not only look aesthetically pleasing but must also be highly user-friendly to gain the click-responses you hope to prompt. Visit this blog post from Wix for more tips on creating a professional website.
Search engine optimisation
As mentioned, your site only functions if Google brings you visitors. So your meta description and website content must be informative and useful whilst containing a good balance of keywords and synonyms: enough to be relevant and convincing without descending into blatant, annoying repetition. If in doubt, this is one area where professional advice can reap huge rewards.
Given the importance of online access via mobile devices – e.g. Wix note that 2015 was the first time mobile searches overtook desktop queries – any contemporary business must ensure their web presence both looks good on handheld formats and performs well too. Here again, Google and compatriots will reward mobile-optimised sites with higher rankings whilst penalising any which show a careless disregard for the needs of mobile users.