Thinking of your first website for your startup or small business? We demystify the process & give practical tips on how to make your first website a success.
When you are thinking about the first website for your start-up or small business, it can be a bit confusing trying to work out who to call and what each person does, let alone what you need to do.
Today we will dive into some of the secrets of a successful first website (whether you are a tradie looking for a first website or a service business).
The Businesses You Need
Building an effective website is similar to building a house. You need a number of different trades all working together to deliver an outcome. Choosing the right people will affect the results you get from your website.
There are three main people that you need to build your first website:
- Content People: The people who help you figure out the right words for your website (also known as web copywriters).
- Visual People: The people who create the design of your website to give it the look and feel you are after, then build the site for you (also known as web designers).
- Technical People: The people who look after your hosting (where your website lives on the internet), your domain name (the www for your website) and your emails linked to your domain.
While some businesses cover off all three services, this is not always the best option. It is safest to keep your hosting and domain name in your own name and not have your web designer organise it for you and bill you each month. That way, if you and your web designer part ways down the track, they can’t hold your online presence hostage.
Other businesses you may also need:
- A great photographer to get high-quality photos of you and your work.
Generally, you start with either the web designer or the web copywriter, and they will be able to refer you to the other people you will need to get your first website built.
Planning & Preparation
The biggest secret to an effective first website is the planning and thinking that goes into your site. The more you plan, the better your website will be at delivering your business goals.
Remember, your website is just customer service in a different format – all the rules for off-line customer service still apply.
No matter whether you start with a web copywriter or web designer, you will be asked a load of questions to help work out the best options for your website.
While these questions will be asked during your meetings with the different businesses building your website, it helps to think through each piece before your first meeting.
1. What business are you in?
This is one of the hardest questions that most businesses face, and often it takes a bit of talking through to tie that side of things down in a way that your customers will understand.
It isn’t as simple as “I am a builder”. Are you a new home builder or renovator? Do you specialise in extensions or granny flats or simply remodelling? What style of building do you prefer? Do you have a geographic area you work within?
But it goes deeper. Are you in the business of building or renovating, or are you really in the business of building a space to hold a family’s memories of the kids growing up? You need to address both the practical and the emotional aspects in your new website.
No matter if you are a tradesperson or a service business, your web designer should help you think through exactly what business you are in.
2. Who are your ideal customers?
By knowing your ideal clients or customers, you can target them with your language and the images you choose for your site.
By narrowing your niche, you have a better chance of attracting the right clients to your business and making sales.
The words and images you choose if you are targeting mums and dads in outer suburbs like Caboolture or Ipswich are different from the images you choose to target high net worth people in inner suburbs such as Hamilton or Ascot.
Quick tip: Everyone is not your client! Unfortunately, by trying to target everyone, will only end in tears as you won’t have the funds to market directly to everyone in Australia.
3. How do your clients contact you?
Think through when, where and how your ideal clients will contact you.
Is your business the sort of business that people search for on their mobiles and ring while they are out and about (e.g., an appointment for a physio), or is it the sort of business that where people do a lot of research before getting a number of quotes to compare (e.g., a kitchen renovator)?
How people contact you will influence the words you use on the page and your site design. If your business is one that people call when they are on the go, a nice big click to call
Quick Tip: All websites need to be fully responsive as a minimum, which means they look good no matter the sized screen used to look at them. This is also now a key ranking factor for Google, so unless your web designer quotes you a fully responsive site, run away!
4. What language do they use to find you?
Each industry has its own jargon. The problem is that your clients may not speak fluent jargon. So you may know that you are a licensed electrical contractor, but it is pretty much guaranteed that most people type “electrician” into Google. You need to know which words people
In the industry, this is one of the first steps in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Knowing the words that your customers use and using them in a seamless way throughout your website.
A good web copywriter will not only create the web content for you, but they will also work with your web designer (if they are separate people) to create your page titles and descriptions.
5. What are the questions potential clients ask you?
Most businesses get asked the same questions over and over. Jot down a list of the common questions and your answers.
Extra bonus points if you think through a list of the most common responses people give you if they choose NOT to buy from you.
People look for businesses because they have a problem they want to solve. They don’t care about your vision to be the best widget maker in Queensland – they just want to know if you sell a particular widget.
Your website copywriter will help you to answer your client’s questions first and talk about you second.
6. What do you want your site to do for you?
Imagine driving into a car yard and trying to work out the best car to suit your needs. Do you need a commercial van to sell pies and sandwiches from? Do you need a massive truck to transport a lot of things at once? Or do you need a simple first car just to get you from point A to point B?
Your website is the vehicle to deliver your business goals. Knowing what you want your website to do for you will influence the design and words you use on your website.
Will you be selling things from your site? Then you will need
You also need an SSL certificate (secure socket layer) to help protect buyers by encrypting their details when they buy. Talk with your technical person to help sort that out.
Quick tip: Having an SSL on all sites is a ranking factor in Google and should be on all websites whether you are selling items or not.
Are you selling physical items that will be posted or electronic things such as ebooks? This will change the back-end systems that work with your site to calculate postage and send
Do you want to build an email list and send people newsletters and offers? You will need a system to take care of the emails and addresses for you. You will also need pages on your site to welcome and thank people, and some standard emails that are sent out when someone joins your list.
Do you need a booking system so people can make appointments directly in your diary, or are you happy with simply chatting to people?
Will you be blogging regularly? Be honest here! Blogs are great for Google, but if you are not a natural writer (and don’t want to hire someone to write your blog posts for you), then you may want to reconsider having a blog on your site.
Creating a blog that is either empty or only has a few ageing posts on it is not a good look for your business. It is like those three stale sandwiches that are left on a tray at the end of an event – no one wants to taste them!
7. Who are your main competitors, and what are they doing?
This is one of the first steps any good web designer or web copywriter takes for you. We speak fluent Google and spend many hours doing website competitor analysis on each project before putting pen to paper (or virtual ink to computers).
Why? You need to know what you are up against.
If all your competitors have $30,000 sites full of glitz, glamour and looking like something you want to frame – perhaps your simple 3-page website is not going to come out too well in comparison. You need to work out how to present yourself as a credible alternative to what is already on the market.
Here’s a bit of an idea of what we do with our website competitor analysis when writing your site.
Step 1: Check out your local competitors
We start by typing in your main search term into Google plus your location – for
We then open the top 20-30 search results all at once. and then compare notes across the sites.
Step 2: Check out your interstate competitors
Next, we look at the top 10-20 search results for other major Australian cities – Plumber Sydney, Plumber Perth, Plumber Melbourne etc. Even if you do not practice in that city or state, it pays to see if we can notice any differences between cities.
What are we looking for in all of these sites?
When we look at your competitor’s sites, we are trying to assess how they make us feel, and whether or not they achieve their objective of making a client want to contact them.
- Assess how your competitors are currently presenting themselves to their customers. Check out their site design, the language they use, how deep they go in terms of content, the colours they use, what topics they cover, how current is the information and the photos they have selected.
- Work out how they are answering customers’ questions. We think about the common questions you get asked about your industry
tospot how they have been answered via the website.
- Determine how easy it is for customers to buy/contact them.
- Assess how they are demonstrating their trustworthiness and expertise.
- Is there any information about pricing?
- Have they told any hero stories or case studies about their business?
- What areas are they strong in? Where are their weaknesses?
- Do they have a newsletter? What incentive are they offering to get people to sign up for their newsletter?
- Do they blog? How often? What topics do they cover?
- How active are they on social media? Which ones?
8. What makes you different from your competitors?
Knowing how you are different in terms of what you do or how you do it makes it easier for a person to choose you on something OTHER than price.
Each person and business has something that makes them unique. If you are not sure what that “thing” is, have a chat with your web copywriter to help work out what makes you unique.
Things to Gather
Aside from all that thinking, you will be asked if you have any of the following:
Domain Name Registration Details
If you already have a domain name registered, you need your registration and login details so your domain name can be used when building your website.
Your domain name is similar to the deeds to your property, so you need to make sure you keep your domain name registration details safe and secure at all times, or you may end up with problems with your domain name.
Testimonials give social proof that you provide a great service. They also can give clues about what makes you better than your competitors.
Your web designer will need great photos of you, your team and your work. Stock images will only get you so far. If you don’t have high-quality photos, you may need to hire a local photographer to make sure you and your work are shown in their best light (literally).
Details of Your Social Media Presence
If your business is active on Facebook, Mastodon, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other social media sites, gather a list of links to your pages on those sites.
Logos & Brand Colours
Your web designer will ask for copies of your logos and the colours you use for your brand.
A good designer will talk you through if your logo design will look good online (not all logos do) and may recommend a refresh to your brand. It is much easier doing it at this stage than later on!
Your web copywriter will also talk you through your brand “feeling” and the language you use. Is your business a laid back one or a slightly starched law firm?
All the Standard Details
You will need to pull together a list of your:
- Contact details
- address (if you are working from home, you will probably want a PO Box)
- phone number
- email address
- Any licence details if your job requires a licence
- Any professional memberships
- Payment types & terms
By going through this planning, your website build will be much smoother and easier. Miss this thinking, and your website team will often have to go back to the beginning.
It is like suddenly deciding to add a second storey on a house that is already under construction. The rework adds time and money.
You should ask about timeframes when you get a quote from your web team members. Small business websites should only take weeks, not months, which means you should be live on the internet in no time!
A new website takes planning and research to deliver the best outcomes. You can do a lot of this planning and thinking by yourself, or you can work with a business like ours to take you through the process in the most efficient way.
Most of our clients tell us they are surprised at how painless we make the whole process and how much clearer they are about their business after having their first website built.
Building an effective website is similar to building a house. You need a number of different trades all working together to deliver an outcome.
You need a web copywriter, a web designer and a web hosting company. You may also need a photographer and a lawyer.
The more you plan, the better your website will be at delivering your business goals.
Things to think about when building your first website:
- What business are you in?
- Who are your ideal customers?
- How do your clients contact you?
- What language do they use to find you?
- What are the questions potential clients ask you?
- What do you want your site to do for you?
- Who are your main competitors, and what are they doing?
- What makes you different from your competitors?
If you would like to talk with us about creating your first website, drop us an email or give us a call.