There’s little so exciting to entrepreneurs and business owners as finally creating their website: the bridge between their business and their customers. The meeting point where they’ll hopefully build long-lasting customer relationships. If they do it right.
Because there’s also little so difficult as creating a good business website. One that goes beyond a beautiful design and catchy copy.
If you’re a business owner trusting someone else with building your business website, it’s good to lay out some ground rules and to know what you actually need—before getting lost in color schemes and team pictures.
What things should you always keep in mind to build a good business website—that actually benefits your business, apart from simply representing it online?
In this article, we’ll give you a handy list of eight things to consider when building your business website, to make it a roaring success.
Cancel your ego trip: your website will neither be about nor for your business, if you’re going to do it right.
This part of your business will be all about your customers. Now, you don’t need to put a picture of them on the homepage—although, you could do that, actually—but this principle is crucial to keep in mind when deciding two things: what you will be putting on your website, and what you want visitors to put in.
Let’s start with the former. Your copy, the pages, the flow: it should all be designed to make visitors feel like the website was made specifically for them.
You won’t do that with a homepage that solely explains what you do. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer: what are their challenges? What are they hoping to find on your website?
Then, with those shoes still on, walk through a flow of pages that leads them to the solution in a logical, structured manner—not skipping a beat, but also not creating hurdles of unnecessary information. Cut out what’s really not necessary, and make room for what matters.
Next up: to make a website all about your customers and visitors, you will need to ask them some things. Whether that’s to sell them something, to give them more information, to send them free content—it should be a two-way street.
Many organizations offer free things like e-books or whitepapers in exchange for an email address and a list of questions to be answered. What field do you work in, what is the name of your company, your first pet, and your favorite cousin.
Most people will happily give you the information you need in exchange for valuable content, but keep in mind that there’s a big group that is still hesitant. What will you be doing with all that information?
To make your website even more about and for your customers, be crystal clear about what you do with data and how you handle privacy concerns.
Be GDPR compliant, but also explain in plain English how you do that. When people give consent for their data to be stored, make it easy to see how and why that will happen—and don’t forget to make it easy to opt out anytime.
If you design a website that is an extension of your customer service department, you will notice that customer satisfaction will skyrocket.
How do you do that? By listening to your visitors, and answering questions before they’re asked. We’re talking FAQ pages that cover more than just three questions, and chatbots that don’t make you beg for another human being within a minute of starting the conversation.
Investing in a knowledge base and AI chatbot sounds extortionate if you’re just starting your first business website, but consider this: it will do a lot of the heavy lifting that normally your customer agents would be doing.
Visitors will become more independent and knowledgeable simply browsing your website, and find their way to becoming a customer more swiftly.
Another important thing to consider is that your website shouldn’t be there to simply showcase your products or services. This is no town for window shopping, people.
What do people need to form connections, say, to other people? We need to spend time with them and interact with them. Not just look at them.
Even though you might feel connected to that beautiful stranger on the train, there’s not really something there.
Consider this when building a business website—your webpage being another human being. Find ways to interact with your visitors and engage them, so they keep lingering around.
This requires more than great content. Give people the opportunity to give input, to talk about themselves, to play games, take quizzes or even communicate with other people. Even with videos you can boost engagement—as long as there’s an action to be taken after watching it.
There are countless ways to make a website more engaging. Find one that works for your audience and website purpose.
What came first—the strategy or the website?
In the success stories, it’s the websites.
Before you start designing your website page by page, think about the strategy you will have for your website, and where your website fits in your business’ strategy.
Then create a roadmap of the steps a customer ideally walks through before buying from you, or contacting you. Base your sitemap on exactly that—not on other websites.
This will prevent you from creating unnecessary pages, and you make sure you’re also not missing any crucial information in your steps.
Once you’ve got the sitemap figured out, start connecting the separate pages with copy that flows and buttons with calls to actions that lead the way.
It’s no longer just teenagers who stare at a small screen all day, every day. Virtually every target group will spend a lot of time browsing on mobile devices.
Create a website that isn’t just mobile-friendly, but one that thrives on mobile.
What does that mean? No big chunks of copy. No pictures that don’t do anyone justice on a small screen.
No sliding, hours of swiping, dropdown menus or anything that makes it frustrating to experience your website in full. Plus, when choosing a theme, make sure it works just as great on mobile as it does on desktop.
The Gaudi masterpiece has been a work in progress since 1882, and to this day, it is surrounded by cranes and construction workers adding small things to it, piece by piece.
Approach your website the same way, in that it is never done, and you should never stop working on it.
Keep adding content to it to update it. Clean up pages and freshen up copy as your business develops. Make sure pictures are up-to-date and that every single link and button works the way a visitor would expect it to.
Even though you will be delivered a ‘’finished’’ website, there really is no such thing. Make sure you get a website that can easily be customized and that enables you to add valuable content such as blogs to it on a whim, without having to wait for a developer to grant you access.
So, last weekend, 50 people completed a purchase. That’s great.
But not if you know that there were 150 others who visited your website. A third of them never made it past the homepage.
Another third couldn’t find what they were looking for in your categories. The last bunch ditched their shopping cart at the last minute.
Make sure you measure more analytics than just the ones that show success. Keep track of bounce rates, loading times and underperforming pages. That too is part of building a successful website.
Last but not least: pay extra attention to the user experience when building your website.
Don’t focus too much on the looks—a website first and foremost needs to work well. Otherwise, your visitors might as well be looking at a painting they are not allowed to touch.
Great UX requires a lot of testing—with real users and people who know a thing or two about UX. So, before you sign off on a beautifully looking mock-up design, try to get a feel of what it’s like to move around in it.
Is it intuitive? Does it flow? Is it clear what the next step is? It’s better to spend more time on fine-tuning your UX than to waste days or weeks on only aesthetics.
Learning what you need and don’t need is all part of the process of building a business website, and it’s more than okay to change your mind a few times before coming to the final design. Always connect your website to your business goals and the challenges your customers face, and you’re off to a great start.