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Taking a business online? 6 steps you must do before you build a website

Taking a business online? 6 steps you must do before you build a website

Are you taking a business online? Here’s 6 steps you must do before you build a website. Failure to follow these steps could result in your website attracting no traffic, or worse, the wrong type of traffic that eats up your time with time wasters.

1. Audience Analysis

Look at who your current customers are. Whether as an individual client/group or as a business. Look at the clients who are you preferred clients first; preferred in terms of easiest to manage and provide a good margin (not the clients who take 80% of your time for only 20% of your revenue).

Client/customer – Things you look for are: age, sex, ethnic background, their values (i.e. vegan, spiritual, religious), location (Town, City, Country), job title, how did they find you, what media do they read, where do they train (CPD points, professional), what are their pain points/issues, how much do they earn and any other criteria you feel could be relevant.

Business – you can still add the above criteria, but you would also look at: number of employees, turnover, industry vertical, decision makers by job title, company Key Performance Indicator’s (KPIs), industry media, industry training, are they innovators, what’s their brand mission and vision

Where do you find this audience analysis information? Much will be what we consider Marketing Intelligence, you just happen to know but have never considered it before. However, this should be as data driven as possible so here’s some places you can go to find the information:

2. Target Audience Analysis

Very similar to the above Audience Analysis but there is often a disconnect between your ‘current’ clients and you ‘desired’ clients. Your Target Audience are therefore the clients you want to have. For example; you may be attracting clients or business that just can’t afford your services and you need to acknowledge these differences so you can adjust your messaging and media

3. Persona Generation

Once you have completed the Audience and Target Audience Analysis you can then generate personas. Typically, you would have 2-6 personas. A persona is a ‘type’ of person/business.

To create a persona, you will need to group your already defined audience (from your audience analysis) into persona types. Group them by what they have in common. It is not always the statistical data that you would group by (i.e. mothers aged 30-40 years old) but often by the reasons they came to you over others (i.e. you offer 24/7 IT support so they don’t have to ‘worry about it’ not working).

Here’s some basic examples:

Andy Athlete

Andy Athlete

 Andy Athlete (persona 1)

  • Competes in competition
  • Highly focused on a training & nutrition regime
  • Trains 5 times a week
  • Typically aged 25-50
  • Predominantly male
  • Focuses on recovery, endurance & strength products
Blood Pressure Brian

Blood Pressure Brian

Brian Blood Pressure (persona 2)

          • Told by Dr to do some exercise
          • Tries to go exercise x3 a week
          • Suffers from High Blood pressure / Cholesterol / Overweight
          • Typically aged 40+. Male or Female
          • Focuses on fat loss products
          • Buys vitamins & minerals to help their immune system/health

4. Target Keyword Analysis for websites

Now you know who you are targeting you can determine how they will go about finding you online. What words will they type into search engines like Google to find your business? There are various ways you can ascertain strong keywords, here’s a few:

Market Intelligence – again your own industry knowledge will enable you to draft a list of keywords

Ask your clients/businesses – ask them how they would go about finding you and your services

Competitor’s marketing – Run an analysis on your competitors Google Adwords campaign to see what is working for them in driving traffic to their website

Competitors website – Run an analysis on your competitor’s websites to see how they get their organic search traffic

5. Target Keywords Refinement

Now you know your keywords, you can start to determine which are the primary keywords. Which keywords are likely to send you the highest amount of traffic and more importantly the right type/quality of traffic. Creating a list of primary, secondary and tertiary keywords will enable you to prioritise your website content when you create your sitemap.

6. Create a Website Site Map

A sitemap is quite literally that, a map of your website and how your visitor will find things. We do these using an excel sheet, but in the image below you can see an image of a live sitemap.

The Primary Keywords tend to make up the Top navigation bar. The secondary keywords tend to make up the top navigation sub-categories and the tertiary keywords tend to make up the blog content (and will support primary and secondary keywords). It’s not always this way as every business and website is different.

Create a Website Site Map

Create a Website Site Map

 

Get three quotes for a Website

Now you are in a position to request quotes for building a website. Web developers will base a price on a few things: Number of pages, number of ‘designed’ pages and any other more bespoke requests. Ideally you will create a brief, which encompasses the above information as well as key information such as your company’s core values and vision. We can help you create this to ensure you get the best out of your website build.

Get three quotes and let the other agencies know you’re getting three quotes. This will ensure you get sensible pricing and offers transparency. More importantly, be weary of the agency that doesn’t give you any detail and promises the earth. A good website will attract traffic if you go through the above 6 steps but even then, you will need to do some marketing. You won’t be the only person in your field turning to online.

 

Also, make sure you choose a good Content Management System/platform (CMS) for your website. If you’re considering an e-commerce website you may also find this article helpful.

If you would like to learn more about the above blog why not get in touch, we would be delighted to hear from you.

 

How much does a website cost image?

How much does a Website cost? Brochure Site

How much does a Website cost?

Before we tell you how much a website costs we’re going to start with what a brochure website is first, just to add some clarity. A brochure website (loosely speaking) is a website that acts as a brochure and does not have a checkout. The reason for the definition is just to add some clarity on what we’re going to talk about later in this article.

….and before we get to the actual bit about the what a website should cost, we also need to clarify the standard you should look for. This is not to frustrate you (I know you just want to know the £ and you can just scroll down this page) but to guide you on what you can expect from a decent functioning website. It is important, because you don’t want to be plagued with issues later down the line or tied to an agency for eternity.

With this there’s some criteria you need to bear in mind…

Key Website Criteria you must not forget

 

  1. Do you need a website?

Obvious question perhaps, but do you actually need a website? There are platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, which mean you do not need to go to the expense if you’re only a small business. For example, We would argue a one-person cleaning business, or a community coffee shop does not need a website. Set up Google business to run along you Facebook or/and Instagram page and your good to go.

Top Tip – For Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) make sure you include the town if you’re a local business. i.e. watford-cleaners. You might be surprised how high you appear in the Google search results

 

  1. Is the Content Management System (CMS) important?

Oh yes, very important indeed. A Wix or Squarespace website will perform poorly in the search results compared to a WordPress or Magento website. Albeit a super easy CMS to set up. A Wix or Squarespace website is suitable for businesses that are not concerned about Search Engines and just need a very ‘basic presence’ online. If you’re serious about growing your business you will need to make sure you get the right CMS.

Top Tip – You can have the most beautifully designed website, but if no one can find it then what real use is it. Make sure you future proof your business’ web presence.

 

  1. Which CMS do I go for?

If you’re a brochure website, then WordPress is the default go to CMS and for very good reasons. There’s plenty of support from forums and plenty of web developers. It is free to use the open source platform and easy enough to set up if you have some patience. It is also a reasonably cost-effective solution.

Top Tip – whenever you get a quote for a website build ensure you ask what the agency/designer’s hourly rate is. You don’t want to get stung on high fees later

 

  1. What else is important when building a Website?

    • Content, Content, Content – you need to have great content and plenty of it. This is what Google crawls to see if your website is relevant. Make sure you don’t skimp on content
    • HTTPS – You must be secure, or search engines will punish you. So, ensure you are HTTPS secure. The ‘S’ stands for secure and gives your site a padlock. It also helps with your GDPR compliance as does a Cookie Policy
    • Google Set Ups – Setting up Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Maps and Google Business are all free and will really boost your online presence
    • What action do you want your visitor to take? – Make sure you are driving your visitors to take an action and make it super easy for them. i.e. to call you, sign up for your newsletter, contact you by email
    • Testimonials – enhances your trust factor and conversion rate
    • Ownership – Make sure you own the website and have complete control over it. WordPress and most CMS make this easy. However, over engineered bespoke coded website’s that are not open source (such as WordPress) make you reliant on the developer. So, you need to think this solution through carefully

    This is obviously not an endless list, but will give you a good sense of areas you should consider.

     

    How much does a website cost?

    All our website quotes on the button below are based on a Bespoke WordPress Websites. This type of website future proofs you and offers you added security. The main cost to any website build is the number of pages you want, and the number of pages that need ‘designing’.

    CLICK HERE to view the How much does a Brochure website cost? PDF

     

    We also offer Content, SEO and Blogger training service as well. This is vital for your site to perform well in search engines like Google. Hence why the service is so popular.

The best e-commerce platforms for a web shop

Which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop? There’s a large choice of e-commerce platforms available, also known as Content Management Systems (CMS). So the choice can be vast. However, we always recommend to go with those platforms which are best supported by the online community and with plenty of talent available should you need support.

In this article we highlight the main contenders with the above in mind. Ensuring you’re future proofed and not tied in to a developer or agency that only operates on the CMS they’ve chosen for you.

Shopify

When it comes to which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop? Shopify is a great e-commerce platform for ‘start-ups’, and for a number of reasons which include;

  • Cost effective
  • Looks professional and very smart
  • It’s very easy to use, not just in setting up but also for processing orders and the day-to-day running of a website
  • Has a 24 hour support team and equally as important it has thriving community of independent developers

There are more plus sides than noted above, but these are the key for consideration. However, with all the plus sides there’s also the not-so-great aspect to, which are:

  • Shopify is not open source and as a result you don’t have complete freedom to do what you want. Ultimately, the site doesn’t truly belong to you
  • For products and main pages SEO is okay but you will have to deal with added terms being added to some URL’s, which limits some of your SEO
Sknhead London uses Shopify and looks awesome

Sknhead London uses Shopify and looks awesome

I almost always recommend Shopify for ‘start-ups’ because you can build out a really clean looking, easy to navigate online shop with ease. One thing that can make your shopify store look truly awesome – although you could say this of all stores – is beautiful imagery. So, it’s worth the effort and a little more spend to acquire some wonderful images.

It’s easy to use from a back-end point of view too. It will last you for quite a few years and you may never need to change CMS. In the future you may feel you need to move to another platform like WordPress or Magento.

Big Commerce

Now I have a confession, we mostly work with Shopify, which is Big Commerce’s direct competitor. There’s not much between them so I’ll not go in to too much detail here. Big Commerce is a another solid and easy to use platform, similar to Shopify and you can have more Staff Accounts.

Pricing is practically identical as are many other features. Big Commerce does not have a proposition to match Shopify’s cheapest offering ‘Shopify Lite’, but then if you’re serious about your e-commerce offering, you would not use Shopify Lite anyway – it’s actually too basic.

Design options, User Experience and Extensions on both platforms are very good and in equal measure. Shopify’s just been around longer and is used by online retailers, ‘considerably’ more often. These are the main reasons why we lean towards Shopify over Big Commerce, but you won’t go far wrong with Big Commerce. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal preference.

WordPress & Woo-Commerce

Woo-Commerce is WordPress' answer to the World of e-commerce

Woo-Commerce

WordPress, and of course Woo-Commerce, cover almost every scenario, present and future…and this is why we like it. Your practically future proofing your business. Unless you’re going truly Global with franchise stores then WordPress & Woo-Commerce more than have you covered. You could argue WordPress is better suited to businesses that are no longer start-ups, and are in the SME space.

This is because it will be more expensive to set up and a little more complex, but that’s the price you pay for future proofing your business. You should definitely choose a Bespoke solution. It will make your website more secure and less likely to crash or be hacked. Even more importantly you’ll spend less time and money on needing to update templates etc

Here’s some other good reasons to use WordPress:

  • Easy to use and navigate through the CMS
  • Arguably the best Search Engine Optimisable (SEO) CMS out there
  • Bespoke can mean both beautiful and unique designs
  • Has a 24 hour support team and equally as important it has thriving community of independent developers
  • Open Source and you own all the code

Here’s the downsides:

  • It will take more development time and therefore cost then the Shopify or Big Commerce solutions
  • If it’s not a bespoke design, then you will need to keep on top of updates

If you have a little more budget and you’re certain of success, then a bespoke WordPress & Woo-Commerce is an obvious choice.

Magento

Mothercare ecommerce store on Magento content management system

Mothercare ecommerce store on Magento

There’s nothing you can’t achieve with the Magento e-commerce platform. Especially from a customer perspective.

You can tailor product pages, even create service pages (offering a paid service). With the new (not-so-new) community version 2.0 it’s much improved on the older version. Magento is far more heavy weight then perhaps you need though, which is important to bear in mind. Global

franchise company’s like Mothercare use Magento providing their franchises with the correct CMS to use and all its plugins. Samsung, Nike, Harpers Bazar and Olympus are just a few other big hitters using Magento.

Magento was built for e-commerce and e-commerce is its raison d’etre. Fully equipped with a plethora of features where other CMS lack.

Here’s just some of the reasons to use Magento

  • Very customer focused
  • Fast load speeds and high performance, especially compared to the competition
  • Loads of plug-ins for almost every scenario you can imagine
  • If there’s not a plug-in you’ll be able to create customised extensions and work flows
  • Excellent for SEO
  • Multiple stores from one login/back-end making it easier to manage your content
  • It’s Open Source meaning you can modify it to your hearts content

And of course, the downsides:

  • You’ll need a developer, either in-house or via an agency. Naturally there’s costs involved in this
  • It can be clunky to use, not as simple as the other CMS mentioned earlier, but this is to be expected when it can achieve so much more than other CMS

Magento is good, very good. The main questions you need to ask yourself is do you ‘need’ all the bells and whistles a Magento e-commerce platform has to offer?

Other e-commerce platforms you may consider

…and a note on which e-commerce platforms to avoid.

Many people will say Wix or Squarespace are amazing platforms, and in their own way they are. However, when considering which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop you want: your website to have the capability of an e-commerce store and the SEO potential for search engines, then they’re just aren’t going to cut it. By all means use them for a ‘brochure website’, but when it comes to e-commerce platforms you need a CMS with more guts.