A Guide For Start-ups & Small Businesses
Every brand / business needs a web presence. The web is a cost effective marketing tool for businesses to communicate with their customers and to help with promoting their brand to attract new customers. It is also a very important channel to market with the continuous growth in e-commerce and m-commerce. The buyer behaviour and the purchasing cycle has changed significantly and brands / businesses need to provide an integrated seamless branded shopping experience irrespective of the channel in order to succeed.
The following is a brief step by step guide to help you with planning your business website design and development project:
1. Web Address (URL)
Your web address (URL) is your digital brand name. It is widely acknowledged that it is necessary for the brand name to be included in the web address to help locate the brand and for brand recognition. A clearly defined URL strategy at the start of any digital planning would be advisable. This could help with brand positioning whether your brand should be perceived as local or international.
The first step in creating your digital brand / business website is to conduct a search to see whether your brand name, desired web address is available. You can search for and register your domain name at any domain name registrar and web hosting company.
2. Aim / objectives
Define the purpose of your business website. It is advisable to have clearly defined objectives, as this will determine how best to design and develop your website. For a basic brochure website, to keep the costs down you can learn how to build your website using the various design templates available. However, in order to ensure that your website is designed to reflect your brand and meets your customers’ needs, it is advisable to work closely with both a designer and a customer / user experience consultant. For a more complex interactive e-commerce solution, it would be best to contact a design agency / consultancy.
3. Strategy Planning
To help you to define your digital strategy, it is important to conduct your research to gain better understanding of your target market and competitors.
- Target market: define who your target audience is (customers, potential customers, suppliers, etc.), understand their needs and online behaviour.
- Competitors: who your competitors are and how are they using the web to reach your target market. This research will help you to understand how your brand / business compares to your competitors.
- Localisation: for any business planning to trade overseas, it is advisable to conduct your research for each market.
Your website should be designed to reflect your brand and its values with consistent look and feel. The design should reflect your brand’s personality and should include all the visual brand identity elements including logo, typography, colours and graphic elements. Therefore, it is advisable to work with a designer to help you to design your brand and its elements as well as to create your website design assets.
5. Branded Customer / User Experience
Your website needs to provide a positive customer / user experience that reflects your brand and its values as well as meets your customers’ needs in order to:
- Engage your customers / users with your brand
- Persuade your customers / users to take action e.g. to buy, register or subscribe
- Build customer loyalty.
6. Information Architecture & Structure
It is essential for any website to have a clear structure in order for the site to be easy to use with consistent navigation throughout. You need to organise your website information in an effective way and to develop a website structure or sitemap.
You need to develop your website content that can meet your business objectives as well as your customers’ / users’ needs. Your website should include regularly updated relevant, interactive, personalised and customised content.
To design a successful customer / user experience, you need to conduct the following research:
- Conceptual research: to identify what your customers / users need
- Preference research: to identify what your customers / users want
- Usability research: to identify what your customers / users can do
9. Development / Build
There are many design templates that can be used to help you design and build your business website from WordPress or templates offered by web hosting companies.
10. Website testing & Launch
Finally, you need to test your website and fix all the bugs before launching your business website.
To help evaluate your website after launch, you need to monitor your website performance by adding a tracking software such as google analytics. This helps to provide you with the following website measurements:
- The number of users / visitors and their behaviour.
- The number of page views and time spent on page
- The bounce rate and exit pages help you to identify which content pages are popular and which are not working well and therefore need to be improved.