5 top tips on website development

It’s almost inconceivable that anyone would think about starting a business now without a website.

As soon as anyone talks or hears about a business the chances are a few seconds later they will be searching for it on Google and having a look.

A website will more than likely be your business' shop window whichever industry you’re in and so it is of paramount importance that you get it right. 

The options for developing a website though are now very numerous. Do you build it yourself using one the many template website building services that are now available? Which one do you choose? Or should you outsource it and get a website developer to do it for you? Where do you find a good one?

Clearly there are a number of decisions to make so here are 5 tips to help.

1. Don’t use proprietary software

Whether you decide to build your website by yourself or employ someone to do it for you just make sure the software that’s being used isn’t bespoke. You should develop your website using a ‘platform’ which has a good development base and track record. 

This serves two functions.

  1. It gives you the confidence that it’s been used before and built some great sites.
  2. It also means that if you have any trouble with your developers, or run into difficulties doing it yourself, there’s going to lots of alternatives for you to turn to. 

Unless you’re aiming to build a very complicated and sophisticated website from day 1, it will be likely that you can get 80% of the way there to test your new business model with a simple website building service.

Just be aware though that if you do go down the ‘build your own’ route using services such as Squarespace, GoDaddy or Moonfruit there will inevitably be limitations as to what it can do.

2. Don’t take shortcuts

Whichever route you decide to go down don’t take shortcuts. 

If a development platform or a developer is promising that one option will deliver something that sounds too good to be true it likely is!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something to be particularly aware of here. Your user base will likely take time to build so if someone or something is promising 1000s of users within days due to a fantastic unknown shortcut be very cautious.

3. Create a user experience appropriate for your audience

The critical point here is that the website you build is not for you. It’s for your customers. This may sound obvious but it is a crucial thing to keep at the forefront of your mind.

What you want your website to do is create simple ways for your customers to engage and do business with you.  So beware of creating overly complex buying steps and don’t try and do everything online if its going to make the user experience unwieldy. If your product or service needs some explanation think about making a direct conversation with your customer part of the buying journey.

And remember there is a big difference between people ‘liking you’ and actually ‘buying from you’. In other words don’t let social media facts and figures skew your thinking. Your website is to get people to buy ultimately rather than like you.

4. Plan for the long term 

By the time you’ve created your first website chances are you will already be hearing news about another ‘latest technology’ which has been created to make websites even better.

Don’t spend too much time worrying about this though. Technology inevitably moves on at a fast pace and while you’ll need to keep up with major trends, such as the continuing growth of smartphone use, you don’t have to immediately keep up with every technology change.

The key thing to do is focus on your core business processes and develop your website on a platform that supports them. Then the changes you make will simply be adapting how you ‘display’ those core processes on whatever the latest device or technology development which comes along.

Also when it comes to app development you’ll likely find lots of people encouraging you to develop one. But before you rush to think you must develop an app just ask yourself – “Do I need an app or do I just need a website that works really well on mobile devices?”

5. And finally remember above all things ‘content is king’

Above all else your new website needs to make space for good content, whether that be videos, great blog articles or generation information.

The reason for this is a simple virtuous circle. Good content brings engagement from users. Meanwhile search engines are constantly on the look out for websites with good engagement from its users. So more good content then brings more user engagement which in turn gets more search engine attention and so on and so on.

Final thought

Without question it’s never been easier to get a new website up and running. However it’s always worth bearing these points in mind to make sure you get your business off to the best possible start with a great shop window.

 

Neil Buirski is Managing Director of Yard Partners, a digital communications agency, whose client list includes Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever, Newsweek and many more.


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