The question of when you need a website comes up for both people starting a business, established businesses and even the largest multinational organisations.
If you’re reading this, it’s most likely:
- You’re thinking of starting a business
- Have just started a small business
- Are looking to grow your small business
The simple answer is right away. If you’re yet to start or have just started a business, you’ll need a website. If you already have a business but no website, you needed one yesterday and if you already have a business website but you’re here thinking about it, you definitely need a new website.
As soon as you have a viable business idea, you should get your domain name and put up a simple website immediately. A simple website means just a landing page telling everyone who you are and what to expect when you launch. A countdown timer would be a nice touch if you know your launch date and time.
Now we know when you’ll need a new website, I’m going to take you through why you need a website for your business and how to make sure it’s suitable.
This blog post is for entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business to help them be prepared and those who have recently started a business but don’t yet have a website. Take a look here for owners with a business they’re looking to grow.
SEO and Branding
Thinking about future growth, having a simple page up immediately is good for SEO. The reason is, if you set up a good landing page with the right keywords to describe your business as well as being user friendly, it will be indexed in the search engines.
Add analytics software like Google Analytics and Google Search Console and you can now get some idea of how your website can perform once you’ve developed it.
I put SEO considerations first as tracking statistics to inform your content strategy becomes more and more important as your business grows. Just as important, or perhaps more important in the early days is to get your brand out there.
For now, branding can be a secondary consideration as you may not have your logo or unique selling proposition (USP) tied down. You can always add elements to your landing page as they are decided.
With a landing page up and ready, you will have the website address (URL) secured which is a major part of your online and offline branding. If you do have your brand ready to go, you can roll it out immediately.
What Should be on Your New Website?
How far along you are in the process of business planing will dictate the structure and content of your website. Will it be a simple holding page, a fully fledged bells and whistles website, or something between? With that in mind, let’s think about what your new website should look like.
For a single page, you only need your business name and contact details at a minimum. A short description of what you do and a list of your services would add flesh to the bones.
Expanding to something larger, your list of services will usually form your main pages. Be sure the services (or products) you offer are the most important to your target audience.
If you know your USP, you’re ready to start writing the content for your services pages. Keep things as short and snappy as possible, expanding on the concepts you touch on in your blog.
For images, stock photography can be a necessary evil, but where possible, high-quality images of your team and products is the way to go.
What Content Management System Should I Use?
‘What should it look like?’ Is usually thought of in a visual way, but I’d like to expand that into a look at what your website will look like under the bonnet. What Content Management System (CMS) will you use and who will be maintaining your website?
In the very beginning, customisation isn’t essential. You don’t need to have the perfect colour scheme and amazing layout. The most important thing just starting out, is choosing a CMS you’re comfortable with.
Deciding upon a CMS like WordPress or Magento is not a priority at this stage. Because you’re only creating a simple landing page, the CMS can be changed very easily.
Here are a few CMS you might consider when starting out, sorted by the level of technical ability you’ll need to use them.
CMS To Consider
Use etsy, wix or wordpress.com
These solutions aren’t necessarily the best for SEO (some are better than others), but if you’re not very technical and need to get something up, these beginer CMS are great. WordPress.com is more intermediate level and once you have the hang of it, you’ll be able to handle the non-technical side of self-hosted WordPress found at wordpress.org.
WordPress (wordpress.org) is great for those able to take a more hands-on technical approach to their new website. If you’re only at an intermediate level and are comfortable with a wordpress.com website, you could always get someone with a bit more technical knowledge to set up your host, domain name and then install WordPress on your server.
WordPress can be installed on your own hosting platform using one click installation to take some of the difficulties out of it. And you can import from an already existing wordpress.com account which makes upgrading to the self-hosted version much easier.
To sum up, you need a website as soon as you know you have a business idea you’d like to pursue. The new website doesn’t need to be all bells and whistles; it just needs to showcase what you do.
Get a basc landing page up, make a plan for the pages you need and the content that should go on them, pick a CMS based on your ability, then launch.
Let me know how you get on in the comments section below and pick the best new website story and write a feature on it.