Getting online – creating and managing a website
A website can be an extremely cost-effective way for your business to attract and engage new customers.
In this module, you’ll learn how to build, manage, and promote your website to attract more customers, increase sales, and secure a strong online presence.
Part 1: Website essentials
In a recent survey of 5000 small to medium sized businesses, people were asked to rate their technology adoption according to five categories. Here’s what they found:
If you want to become a business with digital reach, you need to think about how to get your business online now, or how to improve your current online presence.
Building a website 101
It’s easier than ever to create and manage your own website.
There are nine key steps to building a website:
- Planning: What to think about before creating your website, including the type of website, timeframe, and goals.
- Registering a web address: How to choose and register a suitable domain name.
- Building your website: Benefits of using a pre-existing template versus working with a web developer to create your own.
- Design and branding: How to visually communicate your messages and use your website to build on your brand.
- Creating content: How to structure your website so it’s easy to navigate, and write copy (words on your website) that appeals to your audience.
- Hosting: How to select the right service provider for your business.
- Going mobile: How to make your website work well on smart phones.
- Launching the site: How to market your website and make sure it’s found easily on search engines.
- Keeping it fresh: How to engage customers with new, fresh and relevant content, and how to track progress with analytics.
Remember, when creating content:
- List your products and services clearly and concisely.
- Ensure your contact details are easy to find. Include mobile numbers, landline numbers, email addresses and any links to social media sites like Facebook.
- List your location – include both the address and preferably a Google map. List the location of your business on Google so that people using Google maps can find you fast.
- Prominently display your opening hours on your site with the words ‘opening hours’ so that prospective customers can quickly access this information. Also make sure Google has this information and other basics that prospective customers search for.
- Provide information about your company, including history, resources and testimonials.
You may also want to consider including the following:
- Online payments: This is a cost-effective way to make transactions with customers 24 hours a day.
- LiveChat: Provide a quick way for customers and prospective customers to interact with you via a chat on your website. This can also be via your phone (such as Zopim LiveChat) where customers’ questions appear like a phone message, which makes it quick and easy to respond.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Customers want to find answers when it’s convenient to them, adding FAQs to your website can save your potential customers time, as well as reducing the time you spend handling customer service requests by phone or mail.
- Testimonials: A personal message (written or via video) from satisfied customers builds trust and credibility with potential new customers.
An example of how a website can boost business
A small law firm wants to answer simple legal queries that are posted on their website. They set up real-time Q&A sessions to interact with the customers online. Qualified lawyers give short responses within a 30minute time frame. If clients need additional help, they can get in touch and make an appointment to meet face-to-face.
Part 2: Managing website content
It’s now the norm to create, edit, review and publish text, images, video and other media on your website with a Content Management System (CMS).
Some of the most popular CMS’s are:
WordPress sites can range from free to a small fee if you are hosting through WordPress (this means you are storing your website words, images, and files on WordPress’ servers). Other sites such as Strikingly are extremely quick to use and setup basic, contemporary websites.
You can host your own website through a hosting company such as Serversaurus in Australia. In this instance you install a CMS to your hosting company’s servers and own your site on your servers.
Keeping your website content up-to-date is crucial to keeping your visitors engaged and building your Google ranking. Sites that change and update their content on a regular basis not only give businesses the appearance of being alive and more active, but search engines such as Google give higher emphasis to new and fresh content.
Part 3 – Online promotion
When customers search for a service online through search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, you want your site to be found easily – preferably in the first few pages. Doing this takes time and a lot of work. There are a number of ways to help your business show up as a result of targeted online searches, such as search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. (See Module 3 and Module 6)
If you’re planning on setting up a business website and selling products or services online, these resources may help. All information was current at the time of writing.
WordPress.com – Free content management system
Strikingly.com – Fast and easy setup of a website.
Digitalbusiness.gov.au/creating-your-website/ – In depth information for creating a website