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HOW TO PLAN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WEBSITE- Part 2

In my previous post, “How to plan your Small Business Website- Part 1”  I talked about how to plan your website having your business needs in mind. 

In this post we will look at 3 other areas, which you should consider when planning a small business website.

These 3 key areas are:

  • The Content. Make sure your visitors find the type of content they are looking for.
  • Siteflow. Make your website intuitive to use and easy to navigate.
  • Design. Create a visually pleasing experience and memorable design.
How to Plan a Website for Small Business

CONTENT RELATED QUESTIONS:

If you read the Part 1 of this topic and considered your business needs, I hope that by now you know what you want to achieve with your website.

It is time to consider what content you need to put there.

For this you need to be aware who are you speaking to. Who is your visitor = potential future client?

WHO IS YOUR CLIENT?

I’m sure this is not the first time you’ve been asked this question. Hopefully, by now you have enough understanding of your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) that you can answer this question fairly easy.

To ensure that your website is relevant to your ideal client and has enough interesting information so they come back again and again, consider their problems in relation to your offer.

Prepare your website copy around these 3 questions

  1. What is your ideal client’s biggest problem in relation to your offer?
  2. What solution can you offer?
  3. How can you prove it?

WHAT DO YOU OFFER?

Now that you know who you are planning your website for and what their needs a likely to be, go back to your offer. Whether it is a physical product or a service, consider how you could present it to the visitor in the most visitor-orientated way.

Consider:

  • Do you need to provide additional description of what each offer includes?
  • What are the promised outcomes of working with you or using your product?
  • Can you provide proof in a form of a testimonial or a case study?
  • Are you going to present your prices? If so, where would this information be placed?

HOW CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?

The days when everyone wanted to look like a big company with anonymous employees are long gone. People like buying from people and the personality of the people behind the business is often the decisive factor in purchase decisions. Therefore, these days even big companies are trying to “shrink down” and show their human side.

Your ABOUT Section is the place where you can create a memorable impression. Entice the visitors with your passion for what you do. Don’t be afraid to share your values and mission too.  You may find that you’ll be remembered just for that. If you have any interesting quirks, put them there too. Studies shows that we relate more to people who are not perfect. This is why screenwriters always show the main character’s flows at the beginning of the film. You can do that too.

Here are some ideas for the About page:

  • Tell your company story and how it started.
  • Present your own story highlighting your expertise in your field and link it to your ideal client needs (and questions).
  • Share your mission and values.
  • Put a face or faces to your business, featuring those your future client will be dealing with.

If you want more ideas on how to use your ABOUT page to encourage people to buy from you, read Amy Porterfield’s blog post with tips and advice from a publicity expert, Melissa Cassera. 

HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR CONTENT VARIED AND INTERESTING?

Whether building a website by yourself or working with a designer, make sure you have all the content ready at hand. Otherwise, you risk making the process longer than necessary.

What kind of content do I need? You may ask. When I worked in education we were constantly reminded that when planning a lesson we had to appeal to 4 different styles of learning: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Since a website is a digital product, in theory you can’t make it kinesthetic, but you can make it interactive. You can also appeal to many senses by creating beautiful videos and professional photos. This could be especially useful for food providers and product makers.

Keep your visitor engaged. Text heavy websites are off putting.  Make sure you vary the way you provide the information to your viewer. Remember that saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words”?

Examples of useful content:

  • Images & Photos.
  • Icons.
  • Documents (usually PDFs).
  • Audio.
  • Videos.
  • Portfolio.
  • Social Media Stream.
  • Case Studies and testimonials (ideally with headshots of testimonial providers or company logos).
  • Other companies logos (if applicable).

Whatever you chose, make sure you prepare professional looking content to make the best first impression on your viewer.

SITEFLOW RELATED QUESTIONS:

An effective website is easy to use. The easier you make the navigation of your website, the more likely a viewer will stay on your site for longer and most importantly, come back to find more useful content or even better – to buy from you.

So when you plan your website consider the following: 

PLAN THE VISITOR’S JOURNEY

Sit down and write down your customer inbound journey, in other words turning someone from a website visitor to a lead (a prospective client) then finally to a paid customer.

For those not familiar with this concept, here is a useful free course by HubSpot on Customer Inbound

ONE OR MANY?

If you offer several different products or services, consider breaking them into clearly defined categories. This way you are not overwhelming your visitors and instead are guiding them through the content so they can find the information most relevant to them.

DESIGN RELATED QUESTIONS:

This section brings me to my favourite topic: BRANDING. In today’s day and age, a website is just one of the platforms a small business will use to showcase their products and services.

To avoid headaches during the process, decide on your brand identity before you get to the actual design stage.

GETTING A BRAND GUIDE:

Your brand guide can be just a one page document which should clarify to everyone who is working with your brand which brand elements should be used across your platforms, (whether it’s a website, printed documents or social media) so you always present a consistent look.

Examples of Brand Elements:

  • Logo
  • colours
  • fonts
  • icons
  • patterns
  • photo filters etc.

LOOK FOR INSPIRATION

There are plenty of really well made websites you can easily find online. Pinterest is full of website mockups which can also inspire. Choose 3 and make a list of what you like about them. If you are working with a web designer it might be useful to communicate your vision using visual examples. 

FINALLY…

CONSIDER YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY TO DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE

After all that hard work, it would be a shame if no one would actually come to your site right? So when making a website, think about how you are going to invite visitors to come to your new website.

After all, a business owner’s job is never finished. For a business to thrive and grow, it needs to constantly attract and convert new clients.

Ask yourself:

  • Is there anything that you are currently not doing but would like to start?
  • Have you got social media channels that can help you do that?
  • Are you writing a blog post useful to your ICA’s content?
  • Are you sharing those blog posts everywhere you can?
  • Are you using Public Relations to promote your business and your website?

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