Posted at 13:46h in Content Marketing, SME’s, Website Design by Andy Goddard

Creating a website is one of the most fun parts of starting a new business… until you actually have to create it. At which point you realise you don’t know where to start.

Should you get an agency to build it or do it for free yourself? We don’t blame you if you choose the latter, as there are a great many website building platforms to choose from. But then you’re stuck with having to actually ask yourself questions like what it should look like, what does it need to say and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS ‘SEO’ EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT??

Whoa now, breathe. That’s it. Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the 5 content and design tips to get your website up and running like a pro.

1. Ask yourself three questions before you start

How you design and write your website will ultimately depend on the answers to three questions. Unfortunately most people don’t take the time to figure out these answers before they start, which is why so many end up getting stuck and having to hire someone else to finish the job (we’re including agencies in this too).

So if you’ve decided you need a website, ask yourself these questions:

• What are you selling?

• Who are you selling to?

• How is this website going to help you accomplish that?

For example, if you’re selling products rather than services then you will definitely need to factor in the extras required for an ecommerce site. If your target market is mainly the less-tech-savy, older generation, then you’ll need to design accordingly (black fonts on a white background for easy reading, button call-to-actions instead of text links). And if the goal of the website is to convert visitors to leads you can follow up by phone or email, you’ll need to build in a blog and landing pages for all your inbound marketing content.

2. Keep it easy to use

Regardless of the answers to those three questions, the one basic principle of all good websites is to make it easy to use.

User experience is everything these days. Which means you need to bear this in mind at every stage of your website development—not only in the design but also in the copy that you write. A design and layout that is easy on the eye and easy to navigate is essential, because the attention span of users is short and if you give them an obstacle they’ll probably click away to a competitor site. However, even if you’ve nailed the design, but the text is full of useless jargon and it’s not easy for visitors to get the information they need, you’ll still lose them.

3. Make it mobile friendly

In 2017, Google plans to make mobile search the priority over desktop for the first time ever <link to the other blog post I’m sending you>. Which means that having a mobile-friendly website is absolutely essential if you don’t want your business to suddenly disappear from the digital landscape.

The good news is that most website building platforms allow you to create mobile responsive websites. However, don’t assume that you can simply build the desktop version and the automated layouts will transfer perfectly to a mobile screen—they won’t. While any hired agency should make sure a responsive site looks good wherever you view it, those free platforms will need you to go in and check, adjust and rewrite your website for mobile viewing yourself.

4. Get to know the SEO basics

It might seem like a scary prospect, but with the improvements in search over the years Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is now a fairly natural thing to do. Once upon a time it was all about stuffing your copy with keywords to do with your business. These days you simply have to write as naturally about your business as you can—while making sure your on-page headlines, page titles (as seen in the browser tab) and meta descriptions (as seen in the search results) contain the relevant keywords (which all good writers will have already done).

However, while you might think you know what you’re selling and what to write about on your website, it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of keyword research up front (Google’s Adwords tool is always a good one to use). This will allow you to see the kinds of words and phrases people are searching for online regarding your sector, and can help you adjust your language in the copy to better target your audience.

5. Create consistent content

Some websites may well be designed to provide a digital face for a company and not much else—but we’ve always found this to be a bit of a waste. Because if you’ve gone to the trouble of spending time and money creating a website, the very least it should be doing is working hard for you, drawing in as many visitors as possible and encouraging them to buy into what you’re selling!

At minimum, having a blog and creating some occasional content helps fill the internet with more links back to your website. However, consistency is essential to gaining reader loyalty. If done on a regular basis, you can provide your target market with solid educational material that will keep them coming back to you for more, learn to trust you enough to buy into your services, and eventually act as ambassadors for your brand in their own networks. Which in turn raises the profile of your business and rebrands you as a thought leader in your sector. All for a few blog posts a month and maybe the odd ebook too. Not a bad return, eh?

Of course, if you’d like a bit of help designing, building or writing your new website, we’d love to help!