Make your website stand out from the crowd by following the steps below to make the right decisions.
1. Get planning
Planning will help you create a website for your business that meets your needs and the needs of your customers.
- put a digital strategy in place to make sure your website aligns with your business goals
- use your business plan and marketing plan, particularly when budgeting
- set a firm budget and allow for contingencies – a minimum of $1000
- choose a great top-level domain name and try to get the .com and .com.au.
2. Choose the build
There are 3 options to go with when choosing the design and build of your website.
- hire a web designer – most designers will ask you to fill in a briefing document to help understand your needs
- choose a hosted website building platform – this will lead you through the process of designing your website for a subscription, so make sure it has the functionality you need
- do it yourself – you'll have to choose a hosting provider and software platform (content management system) to build your website.
3. Research website building platforms
If necessary, find and choose a high quality website hosting provider, making sure you:
- have a hosting plan with a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- avoid hosting with your website designer – in case the relationship sours
- test the customer support channels before purchasing a hosting plan.
The next step is to find and choose a high quality website building platform or content management system (CMS). Many hosting providers also offer a CMS. Make sure you test the building platform's features with your current and potential website, and marketing requirements outlined in your marketing plan.
If you're planning to sell products or services from your website, make sure the platform you choose is suitable for e-business or eCommerce.
- Some popular website platforms include Squarespace, WordPress (hosted), Wix and Webnode.
- Some popular shopping cart platforms (popularly known as eCommerce) include Magneto, Woo Commerce, Shopify and BigCommerce.
4. Look at design and usability
The design of your website is important to build trust in your business and make sure people can find the content or sales information they're looking for.Consider using your website to help streamline your sales process – think about how your website can capture important information from potential customers or process sales transactions. Fill in a website design brief, even if you're doing it yourself to make sure you've considered everything.
- have navigation that's usable and consistently placed, such as an 'About us' link on every page
- avoid Flash and gimmicks that take your customer's attention away from your content
- create an HTML sitemap – a representation of your website's information architecture
- check your website complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which aims to make content accessible to a wider range of people.
5. Map out your content
Writing for the web is very different. You need to map out what content will be needed and what your audience will be looking for in the future.
For help on writing for the web, check out our tips on write a content marketing plan.
6. Website optimisation
Make sure your website is standards-compliant and:
- works in most browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer
- is easy to read on mobile platforms, such as tablets and smartphones
- is fast to load by checking Google's page speed tools
- is using XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – you can check if it's built correctly using a CSS Validator and XHTML Validator.
7. Engage customers with online marketing
A newsletter or email list is often the best way to get people engaged with your web content regularly.
Your website should be part of your marketing plan, which means considering promoting via:
- online channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook
- offline channels such as groups you belong to or press releases.
Make sure you set up website analytics such as Google Analytics, which is free to use, to test and measure your website marketing efforts.
8. Be secure
If you don't update and protect your website platform, you're leaving yourself open to hackers.
Some preventative steps include:
- using high-level usernames and passwords – not 'admin' and 'password123'
- keep your platform software and any plugins/modules up-to-date
- consider an external security monitoring software above and beyond your website hosting providers.
Learn more about how to keep your online business secure.