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25 Tips to Build an Effective Website for Your New Business

Create a website that will drive customers and meet your goals

a person sits at a desk working on a laptop next to a large window
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

This post was first published on my Medium blog—follow me there for the most up-to-date entries!

As a certified business coach, I’ve noticed that new business owners rush into “doing” their website. They’re focused on what it looks like and haven’t yet thought through the basics: their customer’s problems, and how their product or service solves problems or meets those needs. So today, I’ll describe 25 rules to create an effective business website separated into four categories. Follow these to build a website that brings in customers and crushes your goals!

Create Clear, Concise, Compelling Messages

1. Never start building a website until you are clear on all the messages that would attract your ideal customer. Donald Miller, author of Marketing Made Simple, says your marketing and messaging must include answers to the three most important questions:

  1. What is your offer? What product or service do you offer to solve a customer’s problem or meet their need? Jewelry? Landscaping? Massage therapy? Motorcycles?
  2. How will your product make their life better? What does your customer want? Better health, more convenience, fewer mistakes, or any of a hundred or so other things?
  3. How do they get what you’re offering? Do they call for an estimate? Register for a course? Buy the eBook?

2. Write your unique value proposition before you build your site. You might or might not use it word for word on the website, but you must have a crystal-clear idea about what it is. If it’s more than about 30 words, you probably wrote too much.

3. Identify your ideal customer’s demographics and psychographics. Write a bullet-point list. Again, this is for your clarity, not necessarily for publication.

4. Show your authority. An effective business website might include testimonials, case summaries, before-and-after statistics, “Trusted by…” statements, awards, approval from industry-related organizations or agencies, and more.

5. Avoid jargon. Never use a big word if a simple one would work. (For example, I never say “assistance” when “help” works.) Spell out words before you use an abbreviation.

6. Write every word of your text before you ever send it to the designer. Read it aloud. Proof-read it again. Ask at least three other people to proofread it and give feedback, including a copy editor if you can afford it. Even if you’re a strong writer, you’ll be astonished at the mistakes you have overlooked.

7. Show success. A photo of happy people is always a good choice. (When selecting photos, make sure the people in them represent different ethnicities and different circumstances, such as disabilities.)

8. Show what failure looks like. A graphic image showing statistics might be good here, for example, the yearly number of deaths that occur from falls in the elderly. But it could be a photo of people looking stressed, confused, stuck in traffic, etc.

Establish Webpage Structure

9. Identify what pages you will need. At the very least, an effective business website needs a Home page, an About page, and a Contact page. Probably more.

10. Select a long-tail phrase for your SEO. What will your ideal customer type into a search engine to find you?

11. Create a wireframe before you spend time and money on the real design.

12. Decide where the links go to on other internal pages, as well as external pages (e.g., social media).

13. Create a brand guide before you create a style guide. Although they are different — the style guide is more detailed, the brand guide more overarching — you’ll need both. Perhaps the most critical piece of a brand guide is establishing your mission, vision, and values, which then drive all of your messaging.

14. Develop a style guide — an effective business website is visually consistent. As Starrenburg tells us, a style guide is basically about the details of “how to use and apply the existing brand identity, such as the logo (mark), colours, fonts, grids, photography.” This style guide should also be used for your business card, newsletter, all other marketing collateral.

15. Be very clear about the purpose of each page. What is it you want that page to do for you, as well as for your client?

16. What metrics will you establish, and for what pages? You need to know if your website is working, and course-correct if it is not working.

Devise a Workplan

17. Spend the most time, energy, and money on preparing the most visited pages. The most visited page is your Home page. Next is your About page. Next is your blog.

18. Ask about 100 questions before your website designer goes to work. I recommend this to every business owner that I coach on developing effective business websites because it has been so helpful for me many times in the past.

19. Write a task list of what needs to be done, and by whom. (I have a very clear template I use for all my sales pages, but it could be easily modified for just about any page.)

20. Be sure you have all your assets lined up before you start building your site. (“Assets” might be photos, icons, infographics, testimonials, etc.)

21. Resist the temptation to use a lot of stuff that people tell you that you “must” have, such as pop-up messages. Pick and choose what will work best for you, your audience, and your financial and technical resources.

22. Set milestones for getting the website finished.

Ask for the Sale, or at Least Get a Lead

23. Make your call to action (CTA) very visible and very direct; repeat it more than once on the page. Don’t force your customer hunt for how to buy the thing you’re selling! If it were a brick-and-mortar store, you’d have a cash register. So make it easy for your shopper to find your virtual cash register!

24. Create a lead generator magnet and give a “transitional call to action.” That is, offer something to people that is not your big offer, but something that requires a smaller commitment from them, such as a free service that will collect their name and email address. Place it near the bottom, not the top of your page. And be sure your lead generator is attracting clients rather than pushing them away through bad messaging, bad placement, or asking for too much information. Check out my free handout to see if your lead generator is helping you or hurting you.

25. Articulate a clear, 3-step plan for how the customer can get the product or service. For example, (1) Collect all the jewelry you want to have appraised, (2) Request a date for an appointment for your appraisal, (3) Look for an email from us confirming the date and time of your appraisal.

An effective business website can look like many things as long as it achieves one goal: bringing in your clients. Whether you’re working on design elements, written words, the structure of the pages, or the analytics for your metrics, keep this goal top of mind. Anything that serves to get your customers in your funnel is working; anything that doesn’t work can go. So use these 25 “rules” to keep your focus where it should be, and make your new website the best it can be!

This post was first published on my Medium blog—follow me there for the most up-to-date entries!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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