Tips For Setting Up A Business Website

If you are thinking about setting up a new website for your business, there are things that you'll need to consider. In this article we offer some simple advice to you, before you get started. (If you are looking for prices for small business websites, click here)

1. Think Like Your Customer

As any business person knows, the key for a successful business is to think about your customers and provide what they actually need - not just what you think they should need.

The same is true for your website. You need to make sure that it makes sense, both graphically and navigationally to the general public.

A lot of businesses will want to use their brand names, slogans and abbrevriations when setting up pages on their websites. Unfortunately though, unless you're brand is a household name, these terms may mean little or nothing to your potential customers.

You can use Google's Adword Tool (which has been made freely available to use for non-adwords customers) to find out what people are actually searching for. The results can be surprising, but can help you when naming the pages and sections on your website.

2. The Five Second Rule

Website users are impatient. You literally have around 5 seconds to impress your visitors. If your page loads slowly or looks irrelevant, you've lost them way before they've read any of your amazing content.

So, if you need to have something big like a video or a flash animation, make sure there is a way to skip it. So, make sure that you keep the filesizes down on your images.

3. Above the fold

If that wasn't bad enough, statistics show that most customers will never scroll down the page looking for content, unless they have reason to do so (like continuing to read an article). So when you design your pages, make sure that anything that is important is "above the fold" - i.e. visible in the browser when they first load the page.

A lot of websites fail here because their special offers are only visible when the customer scrolls down the page.

4. Music, Video and Animation

Videos, Music and Animation can be an amazing draw for customers when done correctly, but done incorrectly they can quickly become an nuisance, increase the loading time and affect the usuability of your website.

Unless your website is designed as a "one off" visit website (e.g an event website, movie or video launch) you should avoid having anything that automatically plays when the page has loaded. A lot of website users, browse whilst playing music or watching the TV, so an unexpected noise can be a quick way of losing the visitor.

In the same way with animation, over use of animated menus can not only take a long time to load, but can make the website frustrating to use.

5. Website Standards and Browser Compatibility

Anybody can have a go at setting up a website today, especially when programs like Microsoft Word make it as simple as writing a letter - right?

Although this is true, there are standards that should be adhered to and a lot of these programs do not produce code that would pass these standards.

These standards include making sure that websites are accessible to deaf and blind users, as well as other disabilities. (What are website standards?)

Another reason that website standards are important is that with a wide variety of browsers available (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE), including those on mobile phones, it is important to make sure that your website will appear correctly on all of them. After all, if the website appears broken, they are less likely to place an order.

6. Stay up to date

An out of date website is worse than not having a website at all.

If you aren't able to put the time or resources into keeping your website up to date, make sure that when you set it up, there isn't anything that will date it prematurely.

Updating your website doesn't need to be either expensive or time consuming. Content management systems are relatively inexpensive and can make updating the website quick and simple.

A good content management system can automatically show or hide content once a date or time has passed - meaning that you don't have to update the website as often - whilst still giving the appearance that you do.