How To Set Up A Web Site That Works
Professional Web Site Design Tips from SEO Web Design Company NCS
Who Needs a Professional Approach to Their Web Site Design?
Many businesses, both large and small, are disappointed with the results from their web site - they haven't managed to make their site work to anything like its real potential.
The reason is often a failure to:
- understand what they should be trying to do, and
- invest the time and the effort needed to make the site successful.
Yet it doesn't have to be complicated and black magic is not required - just the basic business common sense that most successful business people have used to take them to where they are today.
NCS is a UK based SEO and web design company with substantial experience in setting up successful web sites. In this article, I shall identify some of the key things you need to do to create and run your web site to 'do the business'.
Your Steps to Professional Web Site Design and Promotion
1. Before You Start
You need to decide why you want a web site and what you really want to achieve. It could be to:
- attract enquiries from new customers
- sell directly to new and/or existing customers on line
- provide a better service to customers
- provide more information about you and your products to potential suppliers, creditors, press and customers - for example for public relations or market education
- obtain feedback from customers on your products and service
- recruit staff
- reduce sales costs
- improve your internal efficiency
2. Plan Your Approach
Your web site is just another channel to your target audience. You have been doing all the steps you need to do already in your day-to-day business. You just need to translate this to the new medium.
For each of the objectives you have set yourself, you need to decide:
- who your target audience is
- what you are trying to get them to do or obtain from your site
- what you need to have on your site to attract them to it in the first place AND (in general, pretty important) to come back again. Web site content and design are both vital for UK and overseas market success.
- what service do you need to provide on or off-line to back up your 'promise' to your visitors
and, last but not least,
- how you are going to promote your web site and contents to your target audience.
The answers will depend on your product, type of business, target audience etc. They may well affect your site content so you need to pin them down BEFORE you develop the site, not after.
TIP: Search engines, for example, can produce substantial business volumes for you – but your site needs to be designed with search engines in mind. Both the text and coding in particular need to be targeted at the search words or phrases actually used by people looking for your products and services.
We still see many sites - even those supposedly created by web development specialists in the UK - where very little attention has been paid to search engine optimisation. Fixing this after the site is launched is possible, but it is easier and cheaper to get the foundations right when you build a house, not after it is up and being lived in.
All this seems a lot but, if you know your business and if you know your customers, you will come up with something on each of these questions fairly quickly.
You can also get ideas from other people. Discuss it with your colleagues and see what other businesses are doing.
You can take professional advice - experienced UK web development and marketing specialists like NCS can help you cut to the chase quickly, increase your chances of early success and, also reduce your costs - mistakes and wasted effort are a good way of using up your budget.
3. Creating Your Web Site
Do your own web site design?
The good news is that there is a choice of routes and you can even do it yourself - there are fairly inexpensive software packages around and it can be good fun to do. The bad news is that, unless you are very good and prepared to put a lot of effort into it, you won't produce a site that will do you and your business justice. More importantly, you probably won't achieve your business objectives.
Use a standard template web design?
Many institutions, for example high street banks, are offering centralised site creation services. Most of these are based on standard templates and fairly restrictive on what you can fit in. Most expect you to do the online development work and you don't get much advice and support on your business approach, the content or the design.
Hosting is usually part of the package. On some, you can have lengthy contract periods and you may end up paying longer term more than necessary.
You may get a packaged site that works well enough for you in the short term but don't expect it to stand out much from the increasing competition or to grow with you as your ideas change and you want to be more ambitious in what you achieve.
Professional, bespoke web site design, development and hosting
The third main route is to use a local UK web development specialist:
- With these, you should expect to get bespoke web site development reflecting your individual needs and unique business 'character'. Your site should be able to grow and change as your experience and ambitions develop
- Some web design companies are very 'design' based; others have a wider range of skills to offer - for example UK marketing, internet marketing including web site marketing and search engine optimisation, site hosting and database integration
- You may want just a web designer giving you the best price web site design service you can afford at the time or want longer-term advice and support too. You need to decide what suits your business best
- It's your money and time so take your choice. As an experienced web development and marketing specialist, we believe that this route will frequently be the most cost effective one for your UK business in both the short and longer term.
TIP: It is better to prioritise your time and money over the key areas of content, design and marketing rather than blowing everything on design. A small site that really works for you is better than a large, expensive looking site that doesn’t.
TIP: Most businesses will not 'get it right' first time, nor will it stay ‘right’ forever. You need to update the content of your site from time to time to encourage visitors to come back for something new. If your budget can stretch to it, ask for a content management system so you can do much of this yourselves.
4. After the Site is Developed
So you have got your new site and you are pleased with it at least as a first step.
Great! Now you need to:
- ensure it's hosted reliably to provide that 24 hour 7 day service everyone expects
- integrate the site into your service and back office operation. This will help keep your running costs down and ensure you deliver what you promised on the website.
- keep the site fresh for your visitors so they find it worth while coming back. How much you need to do depends on your marketplace.
promote it as a standard part of your business to ensure people actually visit it.
TIP: As discussed earlier, search engine optimisation can be important - but don’t forget the old fashioned, sometimes very simple things like putting the site address on all your stationery and advertising.
There are lots of different promotional options but many of these need to fit with your individual web site content and business character. A bit of expert advice and support in this area could yield significant benefits and mean your new web site has a flying start.
TIP: We cover some ideas on business web site marketing in our article ‘How to make your web site work for you’.
5. Key Things to Remember
Good business web sites are based on doing simple things well:
- understanding whom you are trying to reach and what you want to achieve
- getting the message and service right and keeping them right over time
- delivering these to the target audience in a manner they can understand and be motivated by
- ensuring first class service to the customer wherever required
- integrating the web site into the business operations for efficiency and good service levels
- marketing the web site well to ensure it is used
- learning what works for the business
- being prepared to develop and change the site and its content as the business and customer needs change
- keep to the basics - don't do fancy things unless it's really essential
- don't expect to get it 100% 'right' first time – learn what works best for you
- prioritise your investment of time and money over the development of the content, the website design and the marketing aspects - don’t spend everything just on the design
- phase your web development over a period if you have to
- integrate your web site into your marketing and operations so it is a normal part of your business.
Good Luck with your website
Net Commerce Solutions Limited
UK Professional Web Design, SEO Company
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