Think you need to spend big to get a great website? That’s not always necessary. Lynette Smith from gramma communications offers us her wisdom and advice on what you need to make your website work for your business.
For many of us that’s hard money to find when you are starting up—especially if you are testing the market, finding your position and not exactly committed to your elevator pitch, let alone a website.
A web presence is essential though, so you have to start somewhere, and, unless you are amazingly talented or have heaps of time (!) you’ll probably need to buy in some skills.
So, whatever money you have, what’s the best way to spend it?
To answer that, you need to work through the following three steps.
Work out your purpose
Don’t do a website just because everyone has one. At the very least, your website has to show people who you are and what you do in a clear and exciting way. That means a deep dive into brand and position in the market. You should also think about how your website can help you do business.
Here is a minimum set of questions you’ll need answers to. Don’t craft it. Do it in dot points and don’t leave it to the ‘web people’ to work it out or you will end up with something generic. Try to frame your answers so that they can be re-framed as actions.
What is your brand identity, value proposition, competitors, goals, … ?
Where the website fits with your other marketing communications?
What you want people to do when they are on your website?
The first is a standard bundle of questions for any business, so I won’t go into it here.
The second is part of a marketing communications strategy and you should aim for something that fits together nicely so that all your digital communications, like emails and social media, lead to your website and your website to them. You should make it easy for people you interact with off-line to reach you online too.
The third is about making the most of your web presence. Look at every part of your sales funnel from that first glimmer of interest through to a customer returning to you and then look at how your website can smooth the way to a sale and encourage loyalty.
This is the stuff everyone is talking about now, with good reason. It’s the stuff that people respond to, engage with and share. It’s the stuff that is, or should be, unique to your business.
This is what I recommend you invest in, whether that’s with your time or your money. By ‘content’, I mean the words—page content, tag lines and every last piece of small transactional copy on the sales emails. It needs to be simple, direct and only from you. Be clear and definite about who you are and what you’re offering and speak with your own voice.
And, I also mean the pictures—photographs, video, illustrations and graphic design. A smart phone is all the technology you need to make photos or videos. If you feel you aren’t good at it, ask a friend or look at examples online which you think do it well and follow those examples. There is no need to surf the internet looking for low-quality and generic images (and no need to infringe other people’s copyright).
If you have the skills, by all means, jump in and do it yourself. If you don’t, this is the one thing where I think you need to bite the bullet and buy in the expertise—copy writers, photographers, designers, video people—it’ll be worth it.
Think about structure
There are two ways to go here, depending on your business requirements and what you want people to do on your site. Both ways give you the structure and you drag and drop what you need into place.
For some businesses the most effective web presence is going to be a shop on Facebook, Etsy, Red Bubble or any of the many social-commercial platforms out there now. This is an option to seriously consider if you want to tap into a market that is also a community of people who talk and share and are interested in a conversation with you, the business.
The other way is to build your own. If that’s you, there are templates, many of them free, to help you present the content. They can be really simple, like Squarespace and Weebly, or more involved, like WordPress. The great thing about them is that they solve most design problems by giving you a set of design elements which you can customize to suit your brand, which will also be applied consistently and in good order on your website. Some, like Squarespace, will host your website as well.
Whatever you do make sure you can update content easily and very quickly—you need to have full control over what’s on your website.
Over to you now
Those are the big three to really own. If you’re doing it all yourself, you’ll make your job a lot easier. If you have decided to engage writers, designers, photographers and developers, then by doing this, you will have worked out a really thorough brief—which means your web people will be able to create a distinctive website in a minimum of time. Perfect.
You can find out more about Lynette and gramma communications here.