7 Key Steps to Build a Great Business Website

This step by step guide is for time-pressed businesses - to get you in the right head-space to begin a new business website project.

My 7 keys to business website success

Whether you are using a website builder, working with a developer, or you have yet to decide, you’re in the right place. No matter your industry, a great website has become essential for the success of small businesses.

This step by step guide won’t take a lot of time investment. I’ve written this specifically for time-pressed businesses to help get you in the right head-space to start a new business website, or refresh an old one. Use the below steps to set-off on the right foot, and save precious time and effort later in the game.

The Magic Ingredient

Before writing your life story on your About Page, or choosing your nice eye-catching photos; before doing anything else there is one key element that you need before starting on your website building journey. Strategy!

This magic ingredient is what will set your website apart from those of your competitors. It is so simple to put into action, but many small businesses skip this and rush into building what they hope will be their golden bullet. Don’t skip this, and follow my guidelines below for a great business website.

Read to the end to get a handy worksheet to write out your strategy.

Step 1 – Make a Plan

This is more than a plan of which pages you need and how many sales you’re going to make from your shiny new website (although that’s good to keep in mind). I’m talking about a plan that strategically puts exactly what information you want to share with the world about you and your business clearly on the table. 

Keep in mind: All content on your website will send a message to your potential customers. What message do you want them to receive? 

For this you must have a clear idea of who you are, what your values are, and what problem you solve for your customers. Then you can plan how you’re going to get this message across to your website visitors. 

All content on your website sends a message to your potential customers.

This boils down to having a UVP (Unique Value Proposition) that you’re happy with. Write our your UVP and have it pinned up in a prominent place where you can keep referring back to it during your website build.

If your UVP needs work, don’t worry. This is the perfect time to buckle down and get it right. Your UVP should be a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what makes you different from the competition.

Your UVP is going to be the fulcrum that your website success balances on.

Step 2 – Define Your Business Website Goals

Now you’re rock solid about your business values and the message you want to get across to your visitors, you should find this next step easy.

Write down the purpose of your website. You should have one main goal, and 2 or 3 goals that support this. Ask yourself:

  1. Why do you need a website?
  2. What actionable objectives will your website fulfil for you?

Are you looking to:

  • promote your brand
  • sell products
  • sell services
  • increase direct bookings
  • grow your email list
  • provide educational information
  • grow your client base
  • connect with B2B partners

Throughout this planning process you should always keep these goals in mind to ensure every single element is working to help you meet your objectives.

If a part of your website is not in keeping with these goals, do you really need it? Should it be there? Or is it a distraction for your website visitors, keeping them away from making a booking, or buying your product.

Step 3 – Identify Your Ideal Customer

To fulfil your goals, you need to be targeting the right audience. You need to know who your ideal customers are. Who will be visiting your website, and how will they benefit from staying there?

You want your website to appeal directly to your customers. Therefore you target your website towards those people who will take advantage of your product or service. The look and feel of your website, and your content will be based around your ideal customer profile. For example, if your service is a sailing club for kids – you don’t want a very corporate feeling website, but one that will attract the kids’ parents to sign them up. On the other hand, if you’re a hotel offering conference services, your target audience will expect a website with an air of a professional business.

Create a minimum of 2 customer profiles. Where are they from, what age & sex are they, or do they identify with. What are their values. Write down what they want from your business. Now write down what information they need to convert.

Step 4 – Plan Your Website Visitors’ Journey

Now you know who your ideal clients are, and what message you want them to get from your website, you can map their journey. From finding your website to buying your product or service.

Define what main elements your business website should include, and how your website visitors are going to arrive at the conversion goal you planned in step 2.

We’ll put this into 2 parts to make it super simple.

Part 1 – Give a great first impression

Start with thinking about what your visitors first impression will be when they arrive on your landing page or homepage. We all know first impressions count. Consider your customers values and the problem that you’re going to solve.

This will be the key moment that encourages your visitor to stay and find out more about your business, or leave and find one of your competitors. This will be where you convey your well planned message that you prepared in step 1, and encourage them to follow your “Call to Action”. Back up your UVP with social evidence (that’s your customer reviews) to provide evidence that you can deliver.

Part 2 – Reinforce your message

You’ll want to reinforce your message throughout your visitors journey. Imagine the steps you want people to take on your website, and acknowledge the impression you want to give at every click. Consistency is key. Every page should reinforce your message.

Consider what pages your visitors will need to find the information they want, as you outlined in step 3. What pages are necessary to make it easy for a user to move through your site. They should be able to effortlessly find their way to the booking page, the contact page or your offer page. Make their journey to convert as easy and pain-free as possible.

Draw a diagram including all the stages you want your visitor to follow, and the key information you want them to find. I use sticky notes!

What content would make them more likely to stay on the site, interact, and buy?

I recommend visiting some competitor websites. How is your experience when looking for information? What information is missing that you would like to know? What makes you stay on the website? What menu navigation items are there?

Step 5 – Prepare Your Website Content

The saying goes that ‘content is king’, and this has never been truer. What information you include on your website will make or break your website success. 

Your content reinforces your UVP and defines your business in your customers mind. The design of your website will fit around your text content, so it’s a good idea to clearly decide on your text and images before diving into the layout of your website.

Whether you’re going to work with a website builder platform or a developer, having your content ready to go makes the whole process much smoother. 

I recommend writing short snippets of content for each of your pages, just to get started. Don’t try to get it perfect on the first try. Get something on paper and fine tune as you go. Ask for feedback from someone outside of your business if you can.

This is actually the most time consuming part of building a website. I know many of you don’t have time to find images or write beautiful, selling copy. This is why I offer a content package that takes the hard work off your shoulders.

It may even be worth hiring a professional to help you out, especially if your website’s goal is to sell services. Professional website copywriters know how to develop positioning for business and use the language most likely to drive your visitors to action. If you don’t enjoy writing, why spend time and mental energy on something that may not get the results you desire. I have some great recommendations if you decide to go this route. 

If you decide to write the content yourself, take some time to read up on online copywriting best practices. Websites like Copyblogger and Copyhackers can provide some tips to help you learn the ropes.

Step 6 – Define Your Business Visual Identify

Photos, colour, and video are the top visual elements that people value on a business website. According to Top Design Firms (2021), when asked what visual elements they value on a business website, 40% of consumers said images, 39% said colour, and 21% said video.
With images and colour being 40% and 39%, it’s clear you should plan these carefully to reinforce your message, and not pick out images or colour because it “looks nice” or because “I like it”.

Brand board for a french themed cafe

You may have heard the term “mood board” or “brand board” being thrown around. I prefer to call it a “visual strategy” because your website visuals also have the potential to reinforce your UVP and get your message to your potential customer.

This is all about keeping your visuals on brand and targeting the right customers. If you don’t have a brand identity, brand board or visual strategy, I have a 5 Day Challenge for you coming soon!

When defining your visual identity you should consider:

  • Your logo
  • Your colours
  • Your fonts
  • Your unique design elements (icons or infographics)
  • Your images/photos

These elements, along with the tone of voice you use in your text copy forms your brand! Your brand is what becomes memorable to your customer. Being consistent with your brand not only builds trust and helps your conversion, but it also encourages referrals!

Being consistent with your brand builds trust – and therefore helps your conversion rates. It also encourages referrals!

Once you’re confident with your visual identity you can source your photos. Here you have three options:

  • Take photos yourself
  • Hire a professional photographer
  • Use stock photos

Hiring a professional is expensive, but if you have a product or service that sells through visuals such as a hotel, guesthouse, attraction or activity provider, it may be worth the investment to have a handful of stunning images to wow your target audience. Stock images can be used to pad out your website visuals, used a backgrounds and non-focal images. It’s always worth paying for your stock images, as you’re more likely to find images that really fit your visual strategy. However, these photos can still be generic and might not represent your business powerfully enough if you use them as your main eye-catching images.

Step 7 – Create SEO keywords for your business website

SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of practices you apply to your website to ensure search engines find and rank your website appropriately and then show it to search engine users. The better your website design and content is, the higher your site will show up on search engine result pages.

Local SEO is essential for small family run businesses to be found by your target audience. But before you do any optimizing or SEO magic you need to decide on your keywords. This is so easy, you don’t need to take too much time at this stage.

If you were a member of the public looking for your service, what would you type in to Google?

What geographic areas do you serve?

Now type these into Google’s search engine and watch the autocomplete give you your keywords.

using google search autocomplete for SEO

Write down at least 3 keywords or phrases for each of your website pages.
Now revisit your content. Do your keywords appear in your content? Make sure your keywords or phrases appear at least once on every page.

Conclusion

With a bit of planning and organisation, building your website can be quite simple. The key takeaway from this article is to approach building your family business website with a clear plan.

Yes, building your business website comes with its challenges. But once you’ve completed these initial steps, you’re in a very solid position to start the build. Whether you’re aiming to use a website builder such as WordPress and have a go yourself, or you’re working with a developer (like me!) to design and build your website, you now have the foundations to create a great business website.

If you’ve been waiting to get started because you just don’t know how to begin, take it one step at a time and tick those steps off your to do list. Drop me your email below and subscribe to my newsletter, and I’ll send you a super handy worksheet to make working through these 7 steps a breeze.
Good luck!

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