Most purchase decisions today start with online research even if they don’t end up in an online purchase. And as more and more people have access to smartphones and the internet, having a website that works is no longer a great option but a necessity.
You need to get it right
For you to enjoy the many benefits of having a website, you have to get it right. A successful website has the following three core features: the right design, the right content and the right website hosting.
The sheer amount of responsibility that comes with having a website and making it work can be daunting but with the right knowledge, you can make your new website succeed. Let’s get started.
Understand what your website is: Your website can be a simple collection of web pages and files which contain the information you want to make available to the public. It can also be an application or a set of applications you use to perform your online operations. A website can also be a software solution that manages and delivers documents and/or applications you use for your business. Some websites contain all three instances.
Whatever the case, these files, pages, applications and software solutions need to have the right design, content and hosting solution to make them work for you.
Designing your website
You can use web design templates like WordPress (free) and Porto (paid) to design a website. Alternatively, you can contract a web developer to design your site. The design, of course, has to take into consideration the kind of content that will go in your website and the kind of user interactions what will occur on it as well.
In any case, you need to stay in control and make sure you are getting a website that is usable, well-structured and fits your industry niche.
If you are an e-commerce website for example, then well-structured catalogues with very brief descriptions will serve you better than long text and extensive sales copy. For such website, people come to see that you have a product, compare prices and make an easy purchase. See more on designing e-commerce websites here.
For general, valuable tips on web design, see here.
Get the right content: You need to be careful about the kind of material you put on your website and the language you use.
Before getting your website online, you must first conduct extensive research on your industry niche and its customers online. Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, you have just about 5 seconds to capture an online customer’s attention so you can’t afford to get it wrong.
A general rule is to understand:
- What customers need with a product – This is basic. A customer wants to buy a wedding gown for a wedding
- What customers expect from a product – The customer wants to look beautiful and unique in the wedding gown, while being comfortable in it.
- The main factors that influence purchase of such product such as price, class, location, quality, etc.
- Why you are the right option – What advantage does a customer enjoy buying from you? Excellent service? Expertise and experience? Reputation?
Once you determine these, you can create your new website content accordingly. You may create your website copy in-house or outsource it to content producers.
Be careful not to get hard sold any solution. Be in charge, do your own research – check your successful competitors’ websites for guidance – and make sure the content you put out creates the right balance between resonating with your audience and creating the right picture of what your business stands for.
Tip – Don’t be in a hurry to get online. Take your time to get the design and content right first before hosting your website. If you host your site when it’s still in development, you may be tempted to rush the design and content production so your hosting subscription does not go to waste.
Disclaimer: This is not to suggest that you can get it right at first try. Even when you finally get online, you will need to continue to monitor, evaluate and adjust your website in order to meet your business goals.
Naming your website
Your website name is called the domain name. Google.com is Google’s domain name. Your domain name is what the internet and internet users will use to locate and identify you online.
“.com” is a domain extension. You may be aware of the major domain extensions such as .com, .net, .org, .edu and .gov, but there are several other extensions you can use to name your site.
Some business owners opt for innovative domain names and extensions in order to be unique, brandable or because their preferred domain name/extension is already taken. For example, you can choose ben.insurance if you are an insurance company instead of beninsurance.com.
Register your domain name: Once you decide on a domain name, you need to get it registered with a domain registrar. A domain registrar like Umbrellar essentially lists your domain name as a valid web address on the internet. You can find Umbrellar’s domain name options on Domain Name Registration | Umbrellar.
Research online for a reputable domain registrar and then search on the registrar’s website for the availability of the domain name(s) you have chosen. It is always safer to go with an ICANN-accredited domain registrar. ICANN is the international corporation in charge of domain names and their use.
Hosting your website
Web hosting is perhaps the most crucial part of your online presence. If you go with a web host that cannot deliver top-quality service, your website may experience downtime, security breaches or slow loading all of which can make you lose customers for good.
So, what is web hosting?
The files, pages, applications and software solutions you need for your website have to be located on a computer that is connected to the internet to deliver such content to users on request. This is called web hosting. The host computer, called a server must be able to handle all the requests sent to it in milliseconds in order to serve you well.
Web hosting companies have such servers which are usually housed in data centers and powered 24/7. The hosting companies can offer any, some or all of the following main types of web hosting: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, virtual private server hosting and cloud hosting.
Shared hosting is managed by your web host by default. The other types of hosting can be managed by your in-house IT team or by the hosting provider.
Making a choice of hosting solution and hosting solution provider can be hard because of the many options available. Barry at Heart Internet advises, “The key thing is for business owners to weigh the features of each hosting solution and plan for pros and cons, and match them to the business’ economic, IT and operational policies and goals”.
Take time to do some research to understand your needs first, and then find the company that fits the bill. With so many great options out there, do not settle for anything less than excellence, whatever your budget and other requirements may be. You will find a good, general guide on web hosting here.
Getting your new website and making it a success requires a lot of research and hard work if you want to stand out from the crowd and make your online venture a success. Getting the right design, content and hosting are not the only things you need, but they form the foundation for success whatever your business may be.