If you’re a small business, freelancer or entrepreneur, an online presence is important to promote your business. You may think that in today’s world a business page on social media is enough but trending social media platforms will come and go. So although social media should be part of your marketing strategy, your website is a base where you control the content and that you can reference back to clients—without being reliant on the latest Facebook algorithms.
So how do you go about creating a professional website? The good news is that there are plenty of easy-to-use website builders out there, without the added cost of hiring a website developer. So why not give it a go?
Make a site plan
Anyone can make a good website but to make a great website you need a plan. It can be as easy as jotting down an outline of pages you want on there. Then just think about the user journey and where you want to take the visitor.
It doesn’t have to be complicated—just start with the basics. A Homepage, About page, and Contact page provide a core structure. Then you will want a page describing and listing your product or services in detail. Simplicity is key when it comes to your website, so try to limit your sublevels. Visitors want to find the most important information as easily as possible and with the least clicks necessary. If you feel like that still sounds like too much, you can always try out a one-page website to keep it simple.
Invest in a custom domain
If you’ve never built a website before then it’s easy to experiment with a JimdoFree website (that has a Jimdo subdomain e.g. mywebsite.jimdo.com). You can then try out the different templates and layouts to see what best suits your style of business. However, when you’re ready to take the step towards a professional business then you’ll need a custom domain (website address).
It’s worth going for a “.com” version of your business name but if it’s not available there are other top level domain names you can use. Try to come up with a domain name that is simple and easy to spell. It’s worth remembering that the catchier your name is, the more likely people will remember it in the future when they need your service again. Most of the time you’ll be able to purchase your domain name during the signup process for your website.
Create a Testimonials page
Some advertising you just can’t buy and that’s feedback from your customers. A report by Nielsen started that “two-thirds of respondents say they trust consumer opinions posted online.”
So if customers are giving you great reviews, take a quote and put it on your product or testimonials page. Just be sure to check it’s ok with them first.
Recommendations on your website will make potential clients far more likely to purchase rather than taking a risk on a perceived “unknown” product. If you’ve been mentioned in any press coverage or have an impressive client list then be sure to show that off on your website.
Choose high-quality images
Websites are a visual experience—if your visuals or art aren’t up to scratch then it’s unlikely your visitors will go on to read your well-thought out text. Studies show that it takes someone under 3 seconds to decide whether to stay or leave once they’re on your website. Adding some stunning photos in high-resolution can transform your website into a memorable experience for those potential customers. It worth making sure you have at least one image per page so gather the photos you need and check the size and quality you need them in.
You might want:
- An image for your website background or header image
- Product photos (If you don’t want to hire a professional photographer here’s an easy tutorial on how to take good ones)
- A professional photo of you (no cropped pictures from a night out)
- Some behind-the-scenes photos of your office or workspace so that people can get to know you.
If you’re not a professional photographer there are plenty of resources out there that provide beautiful high-quality stock photography for businesses which is free and looks great on large monitors.
Tip: A good habit to get into is compressing your image file size which you can do easily do with tinypng or tinyjpg depending on the format of the image. Not only will this help your website load faster which in turn may decrease your bounce rate, but getting your image file below 700KB will also boost your SEO.
Write great content
We live in a world where you can get the latest news on your smartphone in real time. People want to find the information they need—and fast. Most viewers will likely skim read your text, so try to stick to short paragraphs and sentences. Scannable text with Headers will help people follow all the information you are presenting. It’s worth asking a friend to check your text is easy to understand and catch any typos that will make your website seem unprofessional.
Keep in mind that humans aren’t the only ones reading your text—Google spiders are also crawling your website. Many companies have SEO experts to get the maximum reach out of their websites with keyword research. However, if that’s not an option you can research your own keywords or phrases that people would type into Google to find your website. For example, if your new product is a spiralizer you may want to drop in some associated keywords such as “healthy lunch”, “raw food”, “vegan food” in your main body of text or Headers. This type of search engine optimization will help customers find you easier on Google.
Include calls to action
Whilst it’s nice that visitors enjoy your website, if you have a business, then your main aim is probably to encourage visitors to buy your product or service. Once you’ve won your visitor over with your engaging text and compelling images about your product then a well-placed call to action will help convert them to a customer.
Use a link or a button with an active voice to convey a short and immediate action. This should give the visitor a clear direction. For example “Curious? Read on” or “Let’s go!.” The trick is to create a sense of urgency or anticipation and get people excited about your product in a positive way.
One call to action on each page is a good rule of thumb and will avoid your visitor searching around your site to get started.
Create a logo and brand
People may not remember a name but you can bet they will remember a great logo. Not only will this make your website more professional but it will help you color coordinate your website and design.
If you’re not a designer yourself, there are plenty of branding packages available that won’t break the bank—99designs is a great option. You can sponsor a logo competition and a variety of great designers will post entries so you can just pick the logo that is right for you.
Remember your website is a space where you can control the content and show off your product or service in the best possible light, so make the most of it. Stick to a simple site plan and get started with the basics then you can add the details later.
Think of your website as a work in progress that you can continuously improve and grow over time. Your website should also be an exciting experience so don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the journey.
Article provided by Jimdo. Jimdo is the world’s easiest way to build your business website, with no coding or special skills required.