Building a website correctly from the start
While you don’t have to build a complicated website that addresses every current trend or that has all of the functions you want in it, it is important when building a website for your business to get it right from the start and leave room for future improvements/additional functionalities. It is easier to add things to a simpler website than to try to get everything done at once and then reorder/rescale the website to suit your needs and capabilities.
Firstly, how will you build your website?
Building a website yourself
Thanks to a number of digital platforms, it is possible and very achievable to produce a functioning, high-quality website that suits the needs of a business of any size. What decides whether you build it yourself or not is the type of business you have and its needs from a website. It is possible to build your own online retail site and have incredible control over the sale of your products as well as insight into your customers, but the more functionality you want to build into your website as well as whether or not you want to build it to scale (in preparation for continued growth) may decide whether you seek outside help.
There are a number of fantastic online resources that you can use to build a website. Three of the most well known are:
Squarespace – this website gives you templates on which you can build your own website. There are a huge number of templates to choose from and all of the design is more or less done for you, simply place your imagery and information into the template to create a website. There are limitations to Squarespace, the largest of which is a lack of freedom over the functionality and design of your website. The ‘drag and drop’ nature of Squarespace can actually feel restrictive for some users who want complete freedom to place images where they like. For this reason, Squarespace is best for those with limited needs from their website and instead wish to use it as an online ‘business card’, highlighting what their business does, as well as simple functionalities such as making bookings for your restaurant, or selling merchandise or your products.
One added option with this is to start yourself and then when you want to change your website, engage a web designer to recode aspects of the site according to your needs.
Wix – similar to Squarespace, Wix is a DIY website builder that gives you greater freedom over the drag and drop features, allowing you to either work with a template or a blank canvas on which you construct the entire website without needing to know any code. This is a great option for those who consider themselves designers at heart who want an outlet to finally express their branding in the way they wish.
WordPress – preceding either of the above two, WordPress is a staple for website construction. Originally targeted towards bloggers, WordPress now hosts thousands of templates on which you can construct a website. There is room for a lot more functionality to be built into your site with WordPress, which is why this may be the road to go down if your needs are more complicated as a business.
Building a website with an agency
An agency is an expensive but fantastic resource for your website design. Digital agencies often offer businesses a more wide-scale service, looking at their branding, copy and website design to offer you more than a website but a platform from which to market your business. They are the most expensive option, but for larger businesses, they are usually a highly rewarding and worthwhile investment. Developing a good relationship with a good agency can be vital for your continued growth as they can act as outside consultants on your progression in relation to your brand identity.
Building a website with a web designer
Smaller businesses may benefit from outsourcing the construction of their website to a freelance web designer. The cost may not always be lower than an agency, you simply get what you pay for. A fantastic web designer will have superb design skills as well as an expert grasp of branding and how it relates to the design and function of a website.
Making a decision between these three options simply comes down to your needs as a business and what you need to get out of your website.
Things to remember when building a website for your business:
- Start simple. Do not try to get everything done in the first go. Consider the construction and growth of your websites in ‘sprints’. The first release of your website may be a larger ‘sprint’ of 2-3 months, but then additional improvements to your site should be considered in smaller sprints of 2 weeks, including small tests and improvements of your site (A/B tests, seeing how users interact with small differences in your site).
- Map out your needs. Know what your business is going to need out of its website. Knowing this will help you decide how many resources you want to dedicate towards its construction and maintenance.
- Constantly test. If your website is your lifeblood, as so many websites are to companies today, never rest. Test every aspect of your website and its UX (the user experience of the website) to make sure your customers can achieve what they want from your website without any hurdles.
- Make data-driven decisions. The future of business is said to be in data. This is debatable, of course. Human intuition will always play an important role in the growth of businesses, but data will increasingly come to dominate many decisions in business. This is why it is important to find ‘evidence’ or data to support your decisions. If you can’t back your decisions with data, then you need to question them.
- Create a website that reflects your brand. Your website is your new business card, it represents you and it is how customers come to judge you, often in the very early stages of the customer journey. Ensure that your website reflects your brand ideals and branding design. For example, if you rely on generating goodwill through strong customer service in store, make sure any customer service functionalities in your website mirror this attention to customer service.