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A third of all businesses in the United States don’t have a website, according to the Small Business Administration. If yours is one of them, you’re probably missing out on attracting new customers, retaining existing customers, and growing your organization. Because, according to Statista, nearly one in three American consumers with Internet access are looking for local businesses Daily. Another 16% search for this type of information several times a week.
But what does it take to develop a great site? The answer differs between individual companies.
Here are some key considerations.
Find the right platform
Even if your business has never had an online presence, you’ve most likely heard of WordPress or Shopify. Originally thought of as a blogging platform, the San Francisco-based former has become one of the most popular choices for small and medium-sized businesses. Shopify, meanwhile – an Ottawa, Ontario-based multinational company famous for its proprietary online store platform and point-of-sale systems – now generates nearly US$3 billion in revenue. There are many other players on the market, and which one is right for you depends on several factors. Start with what a site should achieve. Are you looking to generate inquiries or do you want to make online sales…or both?
And who will build the site? Some platforms offer templates and drag-and-drop options, but most find them eventually limiting. Having the option for more customization is helpful.
Related: 5 things to consider when selecting a website platform for your business
Another early consideration is that while most startups or growing businesses have limited budgets, it’s more than worth considering your website as an investment. This will be the first impression that most potential customers will have of your organization – this fact alone is why advice from experienced web developers is invaluable.
According to the Baymard Institute, approximately 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made. To prevent your business from adding to this shocking statistic, it is important to select the most appropriate payment gateway and payment processor. They work hand in hand and help make the checkout process simple and convenient for online customers. Before committing to a provider, consider whether their service will integrate seamlessly with the design and functionality of your website and other operational systems. Evaluate the cost of subscriptions and individual purchases for each provider against the revenue your business is likely to generate online. Other considerations include transaction security and fraud prevention. Reputable providers will also be accredited to prove that they comply with data protection regulations.
Create beauty and functionality
Successful design isn’t just about creating a pretty site; it’s about representing your brand online and getting potential customers to interact. Well-designed pages make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for, whether it’s information or a product. They also respond seamlessly to any device visitors use, be it a desktop browser, app, tablet or smartphone. Of course, not everyone is born with an eye for design, so it’s worth getting professional support to ensure your business maximizes its opportunities.
Develop a successful SEO strategy
Even the most beautiful website cannot work if the search engines neglect it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential ongoing effort to improve content in order to rank higher in searches. It doesn’t have to be hard work, though. Building a successful strategy is about understanding how your customers search for your business and creating content to answer their questions and solve their problems. Every page needs a clear focal point that is easily identified by Google.
Related: Help your business thrive online with a solid SEO strategy
The sooner you start optimizing your content for search engines, the sooner you’ll start seeing results. Keep in mind that a successful SEO strategy is subject to regular change, as search engines regularly update their algorithms, aiming to provide ever more targeted results. Keeping up to date doesn’t have to be strenuous, but if you’re too busy with other day-to-day operations to do so, consider getting professional assistance.
Focus on content marketing
Blogs, articles, and social media posts all provide a business with the opportunity to connect with potential customers. Such content marketing is all about creating opportunities to be seen online, while providing value to the reader. It doesn’t have to be difficult: as an expert in a field, you can share your expertise for the benefit of an audience. Like SEO, content marketing is strongest when applied regularly and used to create a strong bond between a business and its stakeholders.
Related: Branding is more than an accessory: it is the basis of any business
Without a website, your business misses opportunities. However, a poorly designed one can be almost as detrimental as nothing at all. Creating success online starts with understanding your brand and how an audience likes to interact with it. With this information, you and your designer can effectively refine the look and functionality of an organization’s web presence.