Created 4th April 2013
How to build better business websites
It’s crucial that your business website delivers the results you need it to. But a good website design is a serious investment and there’s always a lot to consider. So we’ve produced this Oxygen guide to help you understand what your options are, and what to expect during the process.
Planning your business website
Although both functionality and content can usually be added after the initial site build, it’s better to have a clear idea at the outset of what you want the final website to do. That’s because an accurate initial planning planning process helps to keep costs down. Here are some things to consider.
You’ll need to decide on the number of pages you want and their headings/content. When planning, it’s useful to create a visual sketch of your pages organised into logical sections which relate to the homepage. If you want to do this digitally, you can use software such as Freemind, or free webtools at Flowchart.com and WriteMaps.com. Your site map will be influenced by your copy.
Effective web copy needs to create the desire to purchase just as much as any full page advert. At Oxygen, we usually start with web copy because it sets out your identity and dictates the layout of the whole site. It also needs to be optimised so that Google loves you. These days, clients and customers expect to see helpful information posted that positions you as an expert in your field. You should also put some conscious effort into writing effective SEO elements such as page descriptions, titles and keywords.
Logo design is very important, as this should convey your positioning to the customer and will carry over into brochures, signage and mobile sites. It needs to work well in several forms and across all mediums.
Customers and clients expect to see high-quality images, illustrating either your products or the service you offer. From an SEO standpoint, well written photo captions also help to drive traffic to your site. You can source and format stock images to use on your website. You may also want to commission new images of your stock or facilities in-line with your current branding.
Use simple CMS websites
CMS websites keep you in control and offer many benefits. They:
• are secure
• are easy to update yourself – or collaboratively via staff
• tend to get updated more frequently – meaning that Google ranks your site higher
• can incorporate third party plug-ins to handle many extra tasks quickly and effectively
• have built in SEO for well optimised urls when you’re blogging.
Make E-commerce business websites user-friendly
When setting up an e-commerce site you need to display products logically and make them easy to search. And with shopping cart software, selection and payment should be reliable, secure, quick and easy so that you don’t experience cart abandonment. You’ll also need pages to deal with customer queries and offer customer support.
Payment facilities on business websites
If you need a payment facility integrated on your site there are many options. The most simple to install is PayPal. It’s functional, but it isn’t as slick or attractive as some of the more sophisticated options such as SagePay. These have the added benefit of allowing you to brand the payment pages as though they were part of your own website.
There are varying levels of integration available. But with the more sophisticated systems you’ll need a merchant account – either through the same provider or through another. You’ll need to set these accounts up in plenty of time as it can take up to 8 weeks for your application to clear.
Building an effective and profitable site takes time. The more detailed and accurate your analysis of your target market, competition, market positioning and site functionality needs, the better your site will perform. You also need to allow time to consider various designs and for your site to be well constructed and thoroughly tested.
If you know exactly what you need, a simple website will take just a few weeks. Planning one with many extras from scratch can take up to 6 months or more from the approaching us to going ‘live’.
When you’re building a new website there are a number of useful extras to consider that will add to your site’s functionality and ROI potential. You can integrate any of the following features into your site.
Web hosting business websites
It’s no good building an amazing website if no-one can access it! You need to secure affordable, reliable web hosting, with bandwidth, disc space and storage that are appropriate for your site.
Enabling comments on blogs and creating forums are an effective way to add to the dialogue your business has with customers, alongside your other social media.
Motion graphics and video
Motion graphics (animations) and videos are great for communicating brand messaging, showcasing products and increasing engagement and ROI on your site.
Back-office system integration
You can completely integrate your site with your back-office processes such as ordering and stock control. This carries a huge number of benefits to your business, including:
• improving efficiency, capacity and response time
• reducing staff workload – information only has to be entered once
• automating many processes – such as printing shipping labels, updating customers, integrating with your ordering and accounts systems etc.
• lowering overheads and sales costs – by reducing duplication of work
• improving customer service – because your staff have information on stock/order status to hand
• future proofing – phones and other hand-held devices are becoming increasingly popular ways for staff to access back-office processes.
If at all possible, build your site to the best W3C XHTML and CSS design and information security standards. Make sure you:
• test your site on a number of operating systems and browsers, Mac and PC
• link your site to your social media accounts
• check varying window/font sizes and hyperlinks
• check e-commerce transactions and site security
• back the whole site up.
First, make sure you have everything in place in order to go ‘live’.
• Domain registration
• Mail set up.
Then submit it to all the major search engines for ranking and the world’s eyes are on you!
We can always do it for you…
If all that sounds like too much for you to manage, give us a call. We’re an award-winning creative agency and we want to produce something that you’ll love. We don’t produce websites from template designs. And we like to empower our clients, so our websites are usually CMS based so that you can update the majority of content yourself at any time, without us. We can also help you to decide which e-commerce and back office integration software options will work best for your business website.
To discuss all your website needs, give Oxygen a call on 0845 255 2606 or contact us via this website