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Regardless of whether you are a freelance journalist,
web designer, owner of a cleaning company or a small business of a different type, an excellent website is required for the success of your company
. Next, you will find step-by-step instructions on what you need to consider when creating a small business website, how to do it, and how much it will cost you.
# 1. Define Your Website Goals
The purpose of the site is the reason why you decided to create it(for example, to increase sales in the clothing store
). For most people, such goals seem self-evident, and usually they are embedded in one of the following options:
- Show a product or service.
- Advertise your business.
- Entertain and / or share what you know.
- Attract traffic, increase audience.
These are good reasons, but they are not enough to create a great site
, since these are general (broad) goals without being tied to anything specific. To find a specific goal, ask yourself the question: “What action do I want to achieve from the user?” Here are some examples:
Understanding the specific purpose of the site (the action you want to initiate) will allow you to start developing a strategy
that will help you achieve this goal. What strategy needs to be created and what should be in it depends on the strategy.
For example, if your goal is:
- Persuade to vote for you in the election. You must emphasize your professionalism, experience and personal qualities through blog posts and attract even more users to your page on social networks.
- Sell more goods and services. You must create a landing page, online store, business card website or corporate website with an attractive description of the goods and your company.
- Create a newsletter subscriber database. You need to create a news site or blog with subscription forms and fill it with interesting relevant content.
# 2. Define your target audience
Having understood what you want to achieve from users, you need to find out who these users are - what is the target audience
of your site. You can do this in the following ways:
- Customer interviews. Get to know your current and former customers. Ask them about who they are, why they chose your product, what they expected from it, and what they received in the end. Gender, age, work, social status, and other user statistics are also important.
- Interviews with potential buyers. Identify people who would be your ideal customers (use my product and have money to buy it). Find such people and interview.
- Online and email polls. Use social networks and email to send out small questionnaires. Ideally, filling out the survey form should be rewarded with bonuses or discounts - there are more chances that the questionnaire will not be ignored.
- Analysis of what customers say. The Internet is full of thematic forums and groups on social networks where your customers can communicate. This is an excellent source of information for studying the target audience of your site.
- See what your business data says. Knowing what kind of product you sell, how you sell it, how often they buy it and other similar data will help your customers know and understand how they make purchase decisions.
- Explore sites collecting statistics. We are talking about such portals as Statista, Pew Research Center, SurveyMonkey, Alexa Tools and others. These sites collect statistical and marketing data, a significant part of which is accessible to everyone, full access to the data can be obtained by subscribing.
Using these tools,
you can gather enough information to get an idea of who your customers are and what is going on in their head. This is necessary in order to compile the Buyer's Personality - a description of an imaginary customer who meets the criteria of your target audience:
- Demographic details: gender, age, education, income, marital status, annual income, additional income, place of residence.
- Professional data: business sphere, position, company size, work schedule, relationships with colleagues, professional goals, etc.
- Psychographic characteristics: character traits, interests, values, beliefs (conscious and subconscious), priorities, motives, etc.
- Impact: favorite sites, blogs, magazines, books, celebrities and opinion leaders.
- Beliefs / values: in whom and how much he believes in what it is manifested.
- Problems: what difficulties does it face, how often, how does it affect the decision to purchase, and what problems can be solved with the help of your product or service, how.
- Purchase process: who in the family (company) decides on the purchase, what impact the user has on the purchase process, what are his objections / requirements to the purchase process, how often he purchases.
When collecting this data, remember that your target audience
is not necessarily the end users. For example, if you are producing a product, then you better focus on distributors for whom the purchase and sale prices are important, rather than the benefits that can be obtained from your product.
# 3. Define a unique selling proposition
USP should set you apart just like the blue duck in this image
Knowing the goals of the site and user profile, you can begin to develop marketing strategies to reach the audience
and encourage them to action. The first step in this process is to create a unique selling point (USP)
. USP is a significant advantage or something special that distinguishes your brand, products or services from competitors.
To determine the USP, answer the following questions:
- What distinguishes your brand, product or service from competitors?
- Why do these differences matter (may matter) to your customers?
- What kind of benefit will your customers receive by choosing your brand, product, service?
- How your brand, product, service will benefit customers?
Take your time with the answers. As a rule, what immediately comes to mind is either too obvious or inherent not only to you, but also to your competitors. Give yourself some time to delve deeper into the topic and understand exactly how your proposal benefits customers
and / or solves their problems. Here are some examples of USP:
- Bloggers - personal experience, expert opinion, confidential information, etc.
- Shops - the only distributor in the region, the maximum guarantee on the market, the lowest prices (if this is true), speed of service.
- Cargo carrier - new delivery vehicles (drones), coverage of regions where no one else works, or the use of blockchain to automate workflow, track goods and manage supply chains.
# 4. Buy a domain name (and hosting)
What does the website address consist of
A domain name
is the name and at the same time the address of your website on the Internet. Typically, this address consists of two parts: a second-level domain (SLD) and a top-level domain (TLD). Sometimes sites can also have a third-level domain. They don’t need to be used, as this affects search results and tells customers that you want to save on the site for your business.
An SLD may consist of any number of alphanumeric characters and hyphens. It is chosen by the owner of the site, provided that this phrase is free. For example, if you are the owner of a restaurant called Joe's Extra Diner, then you can register SLD joesextradiner.
TLD is used to indicate the purpose of the domain name (the scope of the site) or to indicate the country, region or object to which the domain
belongs. The number of TLDs is strictly limited and cannot be selected by the type of SLD you choose. Compared with the addresses of houses, then TLDs are a kind of zip codes.
Most Popular Small Business TLDs:
- .com— commercial projects.
- .org— organizations (often non-profit).
- .net— network projects (in a broad interpretation).
- .edu— educational projects and institutions.
- .info— universal.
- Regional TLDs.
Since you choose a web address
for an existing business, the domain name should repeat the name of the company, be its abbreviation or a combination of words in the name. For example, the bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. uses jpmorgan.com, and the People's Bank of China (abbreviated as PBC or PBOC) - pbc.gov.cn.
are acquired for certain periods of time, and their cost usually varies in the range from 5 to 50 dollars per year, depending on the chosen TLD. Along with the domain name, you also need to find a hosting provider, the cost of their services depends on the complexity of the site
and the expected traffic.
# 5. Choose a development approach
Option 1: site builder
. Programs or online services for creating simple websites that do not require learning programming languages
. They work according to the Lego principle: you use various templates and graphic elements to construct your site from these “cubes”. Suitable for creating business card sites, landing pages and promotional pages.
Option 2: Content Management System (CMS)
. A web platform or program that provides the user with the opportunity to select a template for creating a site and then customize it for themselves
. Visual settings are usually minimal: a couple of images, colors and fonts. But CMS allows you to easily and quickly add new pages (articles) and edit their content, which is important for multi-page sites, such as blogs, news and corporate portals.
Option 3: do it yourself from scratch
. This approach provides maximum flexibility, but requires serious programming and web design skills. If you don’t have them, but have a desire to learn, there are a lot of guides, video tutorials and courses on learning programming languages
and website layouts on the network.
Option 4: Hiring a Developer Company
. A professional web developer
will take the information you collected in the previous steps and create a website for your small business on its basis. To do this, he can use one of the above development options or combine them. If a web developer uses ready-made themes, templates or constructors, the price will be lower, if this is a person who encodes everything on his own, higher.
In order to choose a really good developer:
- Explore his portfolio by independently testing their products (sites).
- Examine the information trace on social networks, forums and thematic sites. Look for reviews, recommendations, and collaboration stories.
- Check the legal points: is the company registered, how long has it been working, where is the main office, how many people are on staff, and so on.
More about choosing a technical partner in the article «How to Choose a Developer Company…
# 6. Design a website
Stages of website design development
If you decide to create a site yourself, and not hire a technical partner, then the next step will be to develop a design or choose a suitable topic on the CMS platform. The first option will give more flexibility, the second - will simplify the process and reduce development time.
Self-development of design consists of two stages:
- Creating a low-fidelity prototype. Usually this is a schematic sketch of how the site will look, where the emphasis is on placing blocks of text, images, transition forms, videos, etc. Low-fidelity prototype allows you to show the short path of the user on the site and avoid blunders of UX / UI design.
- High-fidelity prototype. An intermediate version of the site design embodied in a graphic editor, web designer or code, where the entire structure of the site is visible, there are images and partially or completely filled text blocks. High-fidelity prototype provides an opportunity to understand how the site will look ready-made and what else needs to be done.
# 7. Create content for main pages
Typically, a website for a small business
consists of five pages: the main page, product and company information, reviews and contacts. In landing pages, the tasks of these pages are performed by blocks where the same information is presented, but more briefly. If you intend to blog, then you will also need one or more ready-made posts.
Here are some tips for filling these pages (blocks):
- Main page. Having looked at this page, the user should immediately understand what kind of site it is and why it needs it. Moreover, the simpler the idea, the better. If you sell a piano, then on the top page there should be a call to buy a piano, if you are advertising an information business - registering and / or buying a course, if you are a blogger - your texts. Below you can insert a description of the product and talk about your unique selling proposition.
- Product i It is necessary to briefly describe the use cases of the product, and even better, visualize it using videos or photos. Also here should be information about the manufacturer, warranty and cost.
- Company information. It is necessary to indicate the scope of activity, legal status, in which region / country you work and for how long. It is not necessary to tell the history of the company, its goals and aspirations, if these are not marketing pieces.