5 simple steps for setting up your business website
For the UK’s small businesses, a transactional website is no longer a nice-to-have – it should be an essential part of business. Even if you still do business mainly offline, a web presence can be a great way to promote the brand and sell into a wider, potentially global, audience.
Yet nearly a third (29%) of UK SMEs don’t have a website and, according to the government, have no plans to get one. This means you could be missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools but also on possible new business opportunities. Those businesses that do have a website need to ensure it’s mobile-friendly, as two-thirds of UK online retail traffic comes via mobile. Many businesses with a website are missing out because their site is not smartphone responsive.
Getting started can be a daunting prospect. So Worldpay spoke to two experts, Kevin Wilson from WebBoss and Martin Leamon from Web.com, to find out their top tips for getting started.
“What do you need it for and who will be visiting?” These are the first important questions to ask yourself about your proposed site, according to Wilson. “The target audience is key – if people don’t like the look of the site, they’ll click away. It has to be relevant to the customer.”
“Also, what functions would you like the site to perform? Does it need to be interactive with the customer? Does it need to take payments? Is it a sales tool or just a marketing tool?”
Business owners should also think carefully about the domain name. It should be professional and reflect your brand, but also be simple and easy to find online, according to Leamon.
Build it yourself or outsource?
Build it yourself
This really comes down to whether you’re confident in your web skills or not. “If you’re not a proper designer, it’s easy to clutter pages up with too much information and that’s where the professionalism come in,” says Wilson.
Small business owners not only need to think of the initial design work but also the ongoing management of the site, according to Leamon. It is all about time, e.g. does the business owner really have a couple of days’ spare and also, do they feel not only confident that they possess the skills necessary to upload and layout images but also to write good, Search Engine Optimisation friendly copy about their business?
(SEO is a key online tool which can help your website being found and ranked in Google searches)
If you’re likely to have your hands full with other parts of the business, getting outside help might be the way forward.
“You might have a couple of days to spend on it, but how will this look in the future – who will look after it, manage it, develop it, grow it, and update it?” Leamon says. “Building a website requires constant management and you need to understand whether you have the time or skill to do that yourself.”
Large agencies can be costly, though, so it’s all about balancing “what is nice and shiny and what is the right fit for your business.”
There are several ways to take payments through your website. A hosted payment page redirects the customer from your site to a secure payment page, which is typically hosted by the payments provider, such as Worldpay. This option means that your website never holds the sensitive card data and once the transaction is complete, the shopper is redirected back to your site. This is the easiest and most secure option to implement.
The alternative is a direct integration which provides the customer with a seamless checkout experience. This option usually requires a shopping cart as the data will need to be processed in a secure manner. Alternatively you can host the payment page yourself, but you will need a web developer to code it for you, as you will need to have the payment forms built as part of your website. The data will also need to be hosted securely by you or a third-party to process the card payments.
Both experts agree that it’s best to choose a website provider who works with a payments partner. Alternatively, you need to ensure that payments can easily be integrated into the website in the future.
If you’re building it yourself or getting in outside help, it always pays to be flexible. That means either creating an e-commerce site from the start or building one which can be extended in the future to allow customers to pay directly for goods or services. You need a site which can grow with you; can be easily updated with new pictures, product items etc; and which supports mobile web visitors.
After the site
“Once you have a website, you have to think about how people will get to it,” says Leamon. This means ensuring it is listed with Google and the major search engines, as well as other industry directories available online. You also need to think about pushing visitors to the site from social media and other channels; it’s worth keeping this in mind and researching ideas whilst you’re planning the development of your site.
We hope this article has provided a good starting point if you are thinking of creating or changing your website. Our partners Web.com and WebBoss are on hand to help if you would like more information on getting started.