The start of 2016 offers you the opportunity to kick start your year in the right direction through one of your business’s most essential tools: It’s website. A website or web presence, such as a blog or landing page, is an essential part of doing business in 2016.  

CC0 Public Domain by 88ben88: https://pixabay.com/en/new-year-2016-year-number-906892
CC0 Public Domain by 88ben88: https://pixabay.com/en/new-year-2016-year-number-906892/

With more and more people connected to the internet through mobile devices, the world wide web is the first place most people are turning to when needing to buy or research their next purchase, or to simply find the contact details for your business so they can easily find you.

Whether you are just starting out developing a website or it’s time to review your existing website’s offering, here are some helpful tips to ensure your website is ready to lead your business through a successful year.

Start with the basics: Name your website correctly

On the internet, search engines like Google rule the world as they allow existing customers to easily find you and they bring organic traffic to your website through web searches or ‘googling’.   In order for these search engines to easily link your website to people’s searches it is important to make it clear what your business does through the website’s name and URL (Uniform Resource Locator), aka the web link which directs people to your website.  

For example: the East meets West Exports Company would be better using the URL eastmeetswestexports.com than emwe.com. The reason being is that it’s: easy to remember even though the second URL is shorter; it fits in with the branding of the business (ie people will recognise the business name better than the acronym); and it explains what the business does.

This is something we at Digital Capability have learned the hard way, as no-one knows what Digital Capability means let alone what we do through a business name (NB: Digital Capability means ‘being at the forefront while looking ahead’ – all important business traits). So we will be re-launching our website this year to ensure that is has a more search engine (and human) friendly brand and URL – so watch this space!

Grab it quick: Register your website’s domain name

Once you have some idea about what you will call your website ensure you register the domain name or URL eg eastmeetswestexports.com as soon as possible.  If you are not 100% ensure which URL will be the final one, register a couple of names.  This can be easily and cheaply done through website name registration sites such as Crazy Domains or Go Daddy.

Free image from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/register/
Free image from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/register/

Registering your website domains yourself ensures that you are in control of when to renew it and so you can better maintain the ownership of these domains, and it only takes a few minutes to do it.

Determining your domain’s extension at the end of your website’s URL is guided by whether you:

  • Plan to go global: then use .com
  • Are a registered business in Australia: which you will need to be to get .com.au
  • Are a not-for-profit organisation: then use .org
  • Want something funky which describes your business or its location: then you could use .doctor or .adelaide

Also register your business name as new profiles on as many popular social media sites as possible.  You might not necessarily use all of these profiles, but you don’t want to miss out on them or have to pay big bucks to wrestle it back off of someone else who registers them and then uses them when your business starts to take off.

Go alone or get help: Consider who will develop your website

Creating a website can be very overwhelming as there is so much to know and do.  One of the first things to do is to work out if you will be creating your own website or whether you will be getting someone else to do it.  This is basically a game of your time vs your money – that is, do you have the time to learn how to create and then develop a website or would it be better to invest the money in getting someone else who is a professional in this area to do it?  Either way, it’s costing you money, as your time is money as you could be developing your business rather a website (which is not your core business).

Once you decide which direction you will take, you will need to determine a number of other things about your website, such as:

  • Who do you hope to attract to your website: who is your target market or customer avatar?
  • What are the core functions of your website: selling, collecting leads, helping people?
  • What functions and features will you need to help you do this: e-commerce, blog, subscription or member’s login plugins?
  • How easily can you get the content out of the website if you choose to change it?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the ‘type’ of website you need: DIY, open source, proprietary, bespoke.  

Knowing the type of website will also help you narrow down which web developer you should use eg one who specialises in these types of websites.  Some of the best ways of finding out where you can get a quote from a web developer is by asking your local business support centre or members of your online business networking groups.

When selecting a web developer, consider (among other things):

  • Have they developed websites for your type of business before?
  • Where will your website be hosted?  Will there be any ongoing costs?
  • Will they develop the site to be mobile device responsive?

Don’t leave it empty: Determine where the content is coming from

Now that have your website planned out, the next thing to consider is: What information will you put on your website and who is going to create this content?  Content is king on the inter-web, but it is also one of the biggest stumbling blocks in getting a website finished.

CC-BY Image: Invest in content by Search Engine People Blog - https://www.flickr.com/photos/sepblog/3649959481
CC-BY Image: Invest in content by Search Engine People Blog – https://www.flickr.com/photos/sepblog/3649959481

Choosing the right content for your website is important, so always ensure it is appealing and useful to the website users.  Your website should not be a shine to you and/or your business.  It’s a place which your customers or potential customers find very easy to use and helps them get want they want.

Consider the different types of content which you can put on your website such as: text, images, video, audio, infographics, reports, checklists, presentation slides.  Also consider:

  • What content do you already have which you could re-purpose?
  • What content you will need to write / create?  Who will write / create it?
  • How easily can the content be updated? Who will update it?  How much will it cost to update it?

A website is just like a house – it’s never finished.  It always needs to look fresh and appealing to visitors through new and exciting content, and it needs to be kept neat and tidy with any rubbish removed out of sight, so once established, continually review your website for ways to improve it.

If you would like to learn more about ensuring your website is ready to lead your business through a successful year:

Kick start 2016 with one of your business’s most essential tools: It’s website
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