This is the third of a six part series on how to get your small business website off the ground.
OK, now you have a grand plan in place for using your business website to actually bring in business. Now you need to actually get the site online. The important thing to keep in mind here is that the site needs to be specifically set up in order to achieve your goal – a new prospect entering into your sales funnel. If the site simply consists of the usual corporate-speak, it isn’t going to work. Today’s internet reader is practically immune to that stuff.
The design of your business website is very important. A site that looks bad or (at best) amateur is going to reflect badly on your business. A bad design says a few things to your potential customer:
- We are small time.
- We can’t afford a web designer.
Whether one would admit to it or not, a bad design will turn off customers. You take any business market and compare the effectiveness of a bad design to a professional design, and the pro design will outperform in almost all cases. This is not to say that you HAVE to go out and hire a professional designer to do your site. You don’t. But, again, it comes down to your in-house skill. If your skills in terms of graphic design or web design are not that good, you will be much better off to come up with the money and hire it done for you.
That said, web design is an important factor, not only for “curb appeal”, but in order to focus your visitor’s attention on the ultimate goal – entering the sales funnel. If you want the sales lead, for example, then your site needs to be designed such that it will almost draw the user’s eye into the big button to provide their contact info. This can be done through use of contrasting colors and through strategic placement of elements on the page. NEVER hide the goal from your visitor. If you want them to call you, your phone number should be obviously plastered on every page of your website.
Lastly, do not over-clutter the page. If your business offers a lot of different things, you can drastically harm your website’s effectiveness if you plaster info on everything on every page. I’ve seen some sites with sidebars on the page that are simply littered with ads for the products or services that business offers. All of this screen clutter competes for the user’s attention and the end result is that nothing gets their attention. Combine good design with simplicity, and simplicity geared specifically toward funneling your prospect into the goal you have set for them.
Web programming is a very important aspect of most effective business sites. The brochure-style site may not need any programming because the site doesn’t DO anything (I’ve already discussed that). However, most sites that DO something are going to require at least some basic programming. And, like web design, unless you can do it yourself with skill, I would suggest hiring it out.
If you are going to put an online store on your site, you will need some form of shopping cart and credit card processing. If you want a sales lead, you’re probably going to want a lead form which submits that prospect information into a database of some sort. You may even want to program in an auto responder or email list. All that is part of your sales funnel.
It is the programming which will bring the site to life and make it act as a member of your team. Images and HTML are good for display, but it doesn’t do any work.
Copywriting is the art of writing ad copy. It is writing text for a page that is specifically designed to drive the prospect into your sales funnel. I cannot overemphasize to you the importance of good copy. You can have a beautiful website, but if the words on that page do not serve to interest your visitors enough to do something, the site is useless.
I have done a lot of my own copywriting in the past, but I am no expert in it by far. And I’ve seen the difference good copy can make. If you take the stuff I write and pit it up against something a trained copywriter (like Michael Fortin) would produce, his will outperform mine by many times. It is instinct for many of us business owners to do it ourselves. You may even think that the writing would be the easiest part and that its just the technical stuff you need help with. But, you may want to reconsider. I’ve been in internet business for quite a while now, and I STILL cannot sit here and tell you that I am a good copywriter. It is an art and science in one, and it is to your detriment that you take the words on your page as an afterthought.
Do-It-Yourself Versus Outsourcing
For most small business websites, I tend to err on the side of outsourcing. You may think I say that because I, myself, provide these types of services to my clients. That is true, and yes I have a selfish interest in telling you to hire a pro. But, I promise you that that is NOT why I say this. The simple fact is that most small business owners are not trained to produce a quality website. You are an expert in probably many things related to your business, but perhaps not well versed in the ins and outs of creating a website. It comes down to letting those who know get the job done.
My wife and I are expecting a child in December. We would never, for an instant, consider the do-it-yourself approach and try to deliver the kid at home – me playing catch. We’d be idiots to try it. Why? Because we don’t know what we’re doing. Sure, I can sit here and say “how hard can it be to sit there and catch a kid on the way out?”. But, come on. To perhaps a less extreme degree, the same goes for doing internet work. There is no mystery to it. It’s pretty predictable, in fact. But, those of us who do it every day are MUCH better trained and equipped to do it right. And just like our expecting child is likely to be healthier for being delivered by a trained maternity specialist, your website is likely to be healthier (and more effective) by being evaluated or even set up by a pro.
I’m a big fan of do-it-yourself. That is my instinct. However, as I have progressed in this business, I find that outsourcing is really the way to get things done fast and correctly.
Obviously the topic of creating your business site is one that is so large that it is impossible to cover in one little blog post. So, this post just barely scratches the surface. With that, we’ll jump ahead into the next step of getting your business website off the ground – promotion.
- The Biggest Mistake Copywriters Make
- Following a Salesletter Formula
- 35 Designers x 5 Questions
- Web 2.0 Design Trends
Other Parts of This Series: