Whether you’re selling a product or service, launching a storefront for your existing business, or simply showcasing a portfolio of your work, you need a website that meets professional standards. This is going to be the beating heart of your business; the place where almost all of your customers are going to get their first taste of your brand, and everything that goes into it. If you’re about to set to work on your first business website, the whole task may feel a little daunting. To be honest, it should be with all the competition! Avoid the following mistakes, and you’ll keep yourself from falling at the first hurdle.
Lack of a Business Plan and Marketing Strategy
Forget that old adage “build it and they will come”. That saying may have been relevant at some point, but I guarantee that was long before the dawn of the internet! It’s a big mistake for any kind of entrepreneur to think that once they’ve bought a domain name, they’ll start to see traffic soon after. Before you invest a single penny in your VPS, domain or anything else, take some time to compose a solid business and marketing plan. Despite what some people think, a business plan doesn’t need to be a terribly lengthy document, covering every little stage of your business over the next few years. Just try to cover the products and services you’re selling, the niche market and who your target audience is, your main competitors and their weaknesses you can capitalize on, and the different elements of your online presence. Your marketing strategy should cover the analytics and tracking tools you’re going to use, the strategies you’ll apply for your SEO and PPC campaigns, and the social media platforms you’re going to focus on. Bear in mind that you may need to outsource some of the work in your marketing plan.
Underestimating the Amount of Work Required
If you think that setting up a website for your existing business is a good way to gain quick and easy money, then I’m afraid you’re sadly mistaken. There’s actually more work involved in setting up and maintaining a website than there is in taking orders and shipping products in a more traditional setting. This is a process that will require your full, undivided attention, and will require a fair amount of trial and error before you strike gold. Even if you outsource large parts of managing your website, you’ll still need to keep a close eye on every facet of your business. Just because you’ve moved it onto the online arena doesn’t mean it’s any different than a fully traditional business, or any easier to manage. In summary, you should be prepared to spend a substantial amount of time tweaking and improving your site. Start off by finding out everything that’s ahead of you, making a list, and checking off items as they’re completed.
Choosing a Bad Host or Ecommerce Platform
You may have had a look at your hosting options, and thought that with all the free ones like Weebly and Blogger, why would you bother paying for one? This becomes an even more convincing argument when you see how easy it is to set up with one of these hosts. Don’t give in to temptation! There are a range of issues tied to free web hosting. First of all, not having your own domain name is sure to mark you as unprofessional. Furthermore, various functions, such as linking the site up with social media platforms, will be unavailable, or will cost extra. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage, however, is the fact that you won’t actually own the site or its content. Spending a few bucks a month on a more professional hosting service certainly isn’t a bad investment, so make room for this in your plan!
Making it Too Blog-Heavy
Everyone’s heard of WordPress, as it’s the name that dominates the entire blogging services niche. While it’s accessible and popular, it’s not necessarily the best apparatus you can use to build a website, which a lot of business owners are doing. That’s not to say WordPress is totally useless! The platform is an incredible resource, and has been setting the standard for other blogging platforms for some time now. The brand has become huge in the past few decades, and the company is always working to make things easier for its users. However, WordPress doesn’t always fit in with the way a business’s website should be organized. Unless your business is primarily about providing news, WordPress, or any major blogging platform for that matter, can make it very difficult to categorize a site in the way you’re going for, and often isn’t the smartest choice for promoting a start-up. You’ll have to create content to keep visitors coming into your site, and obviously you need a good blogging platform for this. However, such a platform will not always help you build a great website. When you set to work structuring your website, don’t let it become too focused on your blog.
Failing to Balance Message with Design
While the design of your website should certainly be clean and visually appealing, this is only a small part of what makes a website successful. Aside from having a site that’s going to have a certain aesthetic beauty, it needs to be great at conveying the message you’re trying to get across. This will include your business objectives, your materials for guiding visitors through the sales funnel, and all that high-quality content you’ve been busy composing. Sure, your website might look good enough to hold people’s attention at first, but as they get into reading the copy on your page, the aesthetic features quickly fade into the background. Why is getting this balance right such a big deal? You don’t want any pretty design features to distract your target market from the whole reason you’re building this website in the first place: to communicate your marketing position. Most business owners and web designers tend to lean too far towards one side or another, so make this balance a priority.