Building Websites and Building Trust
Everybody has a website. You probably have a website. Your competitors have websites. You’re currently reading this on our Hapatune website.
In a digital world, having the presence online can make or break your business. It’s how people can find you beyond word-of-mouth. Your website is your storefront, brochure, salesperson, and brand ambassador. It is the digital culmination of what your company represents.
Your website represents your company, and if customers are having a hard time navigating your site, they won’t stay long enough to see what you have to offer.
The website is, in some cases, a customer’s very first interaction with your company. Maybe you were mentioned in a LinkedIn post, so they clicked a link leading back to your website. However, if they click on your link and see that it’s blocky, slow, and maybe has a typo hiding in the header, they aren’t likely to be instilled with a whole lot of confidence in your business.
A good website is a sign of a good company.
Most websites have the same basic tenets: who we are, what we do, and how to contact us.
(This blog is focused on providing tips for building a website for the first time. If you’re looking for ways to boost your website’s analytics, our SEO blog may be better suited for you!)
Where to Start:
If you’re starting from scratch on your website, then the first thing you’ll need to do is pick a hosting platform. Many of these platforms will even host your site for free! You’ve probably already heard of some of them: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and so on. When you’re researching these platforms, keep in mind the kind of website you want. Some of them are more geared towards being online storefronts, so most of their features will be oriented around that aspect. Shopify or BigCommerce are two popular sites right now for hosting online storefronts.
However, most smaller companies in the bioprocessing industry tend to handle sales via a sales team or through custom quotes. Very rarely do you see a website in this industry that has an “Add to Cart” button. “Request a Quote” or “Contact Us” buttons are much more common. Setting up a shop online may not be one of your priorities, making WordPress or Wix a better match.
It’s also important to look forward for your company and consider the possibility of your website needing to expand. Will this platform support a blog with comments? Is it compatible with most plugins? What are your options if you need your website translated? How user-friendly is the interface, and how reliable is the website builder’s customer support?
The most popular website builders will let you create a website for free, but don’t ignore the paid plans! Some of the benefits are worth the monthly subscription. For example, Wix lets you host your website ad-free and with a custom domain name on their paid plan. These features allow you to run your website without the branding of your hosting platform. While it isn’t necessary, it will help your company credibility.
Speaking of domain names, that’s also an aspect that’s important to consider. As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid any numbers or symbols in the name, and keep it as short as possible. You[KS1] should check if your company name is available as a domain name. If it isn’t, you may be able to purchase it from the previous owners. If not, then an acronym or adding your location is usually the next best option. For example, Sigma-Aldrich drops the hyphen in their website link: www.sigmaaldrich.com. Daiso Fine Chem’s website is location specific: www.daisogelusa.com.
So now you have the bones of your website: the hosting platform and domain name. The next step is designing it. This step can be outsourced to a web designer if that’s within your budget. As with any other branded piece that you produce, such as a brochure, product packaging, or trade show booth, it is always best to use a design professional for the best results.
But if outsourcing isn’t in your budget initially, don’t worry! Most of the website builders will have a variety of free templates to choose from. The templates usually also will come in categories that influence the layout of your site. For example, some will be more portfolio-centric, while others may feature blog posts. Others still will be more store oriented, and so on. Choosing a template that fits in the category of what you want your website to be will save you a lot of time.
Even after choosing a template, configuring it takes some serious time and thought. While you won’t have the flexibility of a truly custom site when using a template-based platform, it’s also more than just uploading your company logo and editing the colors to match your brand. You’ll want to make sure you have accessible contact information, buttons linked to your social media pages, and so on. For this step, before you start populating the website with your content, it’s a good exercise to build a sitemap.
What is a sitemap? It’s a model of all the different pages on your website, displayed in a way that shows how they all connect. Similar in design to a flow chart, it lists each page and their relationship with the other pages. Having a sitemap also helps plan the structure of your site, which is important for SEO. (Read more about SEO and why it’s important). Even before you populate the website with your content, it’s good to map and plan out how you want everything to tie together, both organizationally and for your business. A sitemap is also a necessary tool if you’re outsourcing your website design to someone else.
There’s a lot of different pages you can make for your website, but even the biggest corporations will follow the same blueprint. Take a look around your competitor’s sites, see what kinds of pages they have tabbed for their customers to use. Don’t forget about the pages linked in the header and footer! It’s likely you’ll see most of the following pages:
- Home Page
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Terms and Conditions
Remember, your website should be focused on what the customer’s needs and wants are. Your website should be a resource for a potential buyer researching for a solution to their problem. Clearly define that problem or pain point and understand how your product or service solves it. That equation should underpin every aspect of your site.
Your content should answer your target audience’s questions and offer them easy ways to connect to your team or download content to help with their decision-making process. It should be a clear guide leading them towards your Call to Action (CTA).
Your CTA represents the action that you want the visitor to take to fulfill the website’s purpose.
That could be a sale, an inquiry, a sample request, a white paper download, or anything you want it to be. “Contact Us” is the most recognized form of CTA.
Your “About Us” page’s purpose is to educate your customer on your company history and values, to tell them what sets you apart from your competitors. The CTA on this page is most likely to be “Contact us if you have any more questions about who we are and what we represent”.
Your products or services should be listed in a way that directly explains the benefit to the customer if they should use them. The CTA for this page may be more along the lines of “Contact us to learn more about this product” or “Contact us to purchase this service”.
Of course, with all this “Contact Us”, make sure that it is easy and accessible to do so! Whether you host a form for customers to submit or publish an email address and phone number, test and verify that potential customer requests make it to your inbox.
Before you take your website live, you’ll want to triple check everything. Most of the web builders will have a ‘Preview’ option, where you can get a better visual idea of how the site will look once you go live, without having to go live. Take advantage of this!
Go through each page and see how the elements work together. Does the spacing look okay? Are there any typos? Are your images loading in hi-res? Do your links work?
This is also a good opportunity to preview the website on different browsers, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and so on. Also check on different devices if you can. These days, it’s very important for websites to have mobile compatibility. Make sure your new website still looks nice on the smaller screen.
It’s also a very good idea to get a second (or even third!) set of eyes on your site. If you’re working with WordPress, then you may consider creating a dev site. A dev site, otherwise known as a staging site, is a clone of your website, but it’ll be private and password protected. This makes it easier for other people to proofread and test the site and make any changes before going live.
Not every hosting platform has this feature, so if this isn’t an option for you, then be sure to be extra thorough!
Preview and test your website before you publish it. Triple-check everything, and then have someone else go through it and double-check. Check the spelling and grammar, that all the buttons work, that it’s functional on both desktop and mobile, and so on. Make sure the navigation makes sense to people, and that pages load relatively quickly.
After you’ve spent countless hours poring over every word on every page of your new site, you’re ready to go live!
Make sure to refresh and update your page and blog content regularly, making information organized and accessible. Keep the website fresh and up to date, and you’re more likely to delight and convert your visitors to customers.
Now, you’re ready to learn about SEO! Hop over to our other blog to learn how to optimize search engine metrics to keep your website on the top of the search results page.
Contact our team at Hapatune if you want help getting your website started!
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