Creating a powerful and productive website is as easy as 1, 2, 3! (Well, really, there are seven steps, so let’s get started!)
STEP 1: DECLARE YOUR INTENTION & MAKE GOALS
A truly stellar website is created with intention. So begin the process by writing down your goals. latierrademisamores What do you want your website to do for you? You’ll have both primary and secondary goals.
STEP 2: DECIDE ON THE WEB PAGES
Once you have your goals written down, you can rough out your website. Most small business professionals in the service industry can get by with four to six pages. At the very least, you’ll need a Home page, Services page, About Us page, and Contact Us page. If your budget allows, you should consider some other pages that will help your clients understand more about you, such as a Testimonials page and a Portfolio page.
STEP 3: WRITE YOUR WEBSITE TEXT
The next step is to begin writing your website text (also known as “copy.”) You can do this yourself if you enjoy writing and have a good mastery of grammar, punctuation, spelling, word flow, and compelling statements. If you are not a stellar writer, it may be a good idea to hire a copywriter. As you create your web copy, always keep your target market in mind. What would make them want to work with you? What do they need most? Why are they visiting your site? What kind of information can you provide that is interesting and relevant to them? And, although this may sound basic, make sure your site tells visitors who you are and what you do.
STEP 4: DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE
Your website is your company’s storefront, and it must look professional and portray the right image. It must have the perfect combination of fantastic imagery and technical functionality. If your budget will not allow you to hire a designer, you can do it yourself, but keep it simple. Companies like GoDaddy.com offer website templates you can use or you can purchase a program like Dreamweaver or Frontpage to create a site from scratch. You’ll need to purchase your domain name as soon as possible. GoDaddy.com has very affordable rates, at under $10 per year per domain name. You’ll also need to find a website hosting company, which will likely charge you by the month to “host” your website files. Shop around, because prices really vary. (Or, use the FREE website hosting company that I recommend in my Purposeful Website Planning How-To Guide.)
STEP 5: GIVE ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
You’ll want to make your website easy to navigate, quick-to-load, and easy-to-read. Fonts, colors, photos, graphics, and links all can make or break the success of your site. Don’t forget to make it accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. Visit http://www.w3.org/WAI to see a list of guidelines for how to create web sites that are accessible to as many people (and systems) as possible.
STEP 6: OPTIMIZE SO SEARCH ENGINES CAN FIND YOU
Search Engine Optimization (also called SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines (like Google and Yahoo) via unpaid search results. Your goal is to appear earlier/higher up on a search engine results list, because most people look at the first few websites that appear as a result of their search. Your web designer should optimize your website for you. If you design your own site, you’ll have to do this yourself. For example, your website should have hidden code that lists your “meta tags.” This includes key words and phrases that your target market will use to find your type of business via the search engines. Also, add fresh content regularly. This will improve your rankings. Consider adding a blog within your site, and update it at least twice a week. (More helpful tips about optimization can be found in my Purposeful Website Planning How-To Guide.)
STEP 7: ASSESS & UPDATE YOUR SITE REGULARLY
Put it on your calendar to thoroughly review your website quarterly. Make sure all the external links still work, all your contact information is still accurate, and that the site reflects the services you offer. Consider your website a work in progress. A great website is your best marketing bet, so take the time to do it right!
Sara Pedersen – AKA The Marketing Fairy – is a small business marketing specialist based in St Paul, Minnesota. She invites you to visit her website to learn about her Purposeful Website Planning How-To Guide, Publicity Rocks! How-To Guide, and 50 Bright Ideas to Marketing Your Small Business Tip Sheet. You can also sign up for her FREE “Marketing Made Easy” e-newsletter and find helpful how-to articles at