You’ve just launched your start-up business, it’s an exciting and busy time with lots to think about and put in place – and you find yourself asking the question: “Do I need a web site?”
We believe the answer is almost always a resounding “yes”!
The online world has evolved massively in recent years with a business’s online presence, regardless of industry sector, having a massive impact on its chances of success. Alongside this, the readily available technology, the ever-expanding capabilities and the easy access to expertise now make it even easier for businesses of all sizes to get online.
Start-up businesses may not have the luxury of a big budget to spend on their websites but creating a commanding online presence doesn’t have to cost a fortune, understanding what’s important and what you need to do will go a long way in getting you where you need to be.
We got the lowdown, with answers to some of the main questions that we get asked by start-up businesses, from Portridge one of the business support partners for our Start Up Vision programme.
Should I use a web design agency?
If you want someone to take care of everything to do with your website – the design, the technical aspects, the security, the updates and so on - so you can get on with running your business, then working with a web design agency can be a great choice.
There is a large pool of agencies to choose from, many offering affordably priced comprehensive packages consisting of design, build and ongoing support targeted specifically for small or start-up businesses. Choosing the right one for you can help propel your business to the next level.
A web design agency can help take the complexity out of running your own website, managing the whole spectrum of your online presence from updating and adding new content; to hosting your site and managing your domain names; along with ongoing technical maintenance such as patch updates and security backups, giving you complete peace of mind and allowing you to focus on what you do best.
What about web site building platforms like Wix or Squarespace?
If you've got an eye for creativity, are comfortable with using basic technology and you've got the time available, then website building platforms such as Squarespace or Wix can enable you to quickly and easily get started on your web site journey.
These platforms can be great tools if you know how to use them, but if you don't have the right skill set, don't have the time or the inclination, then maybe having a professional do it for you is the best approach – it’s really up to you and how much time and effort you can afford to dedicate to doing it yourself.
The beauty of using such a website builder is that you don’t need any programming, coding or design skills and for most people they are relatively straightforward to use. You start from a basic pre-designed template, personalising it with your own logo, imagery and copy. They can be done relatively quickly, are generally a lower cost option than using an agency and you could have a website published and live in next to no time.
Possible downsides include the fact they are not custom designed which might pose problems if you really want to stand out or they may lack some more advanced functionality and features that you would like to have. You will also have to do all the SEO (search engine optimisation) work yourself -which is an extremely important factor in any website's success.
How easy is it to work with a web design agency?
Web design agencies are experts in what they do, and they will support you through the process every step of the way.
To get started they will simply require some basic details about your business; a brief overview of what you want; followed by a quick consultation – this should be enough for them to establish what’s needed.
Do you already have a website? Do you have a domain? What’s your company name? This is some of the basic information a web design agency will initially need to know. If you already have a site they may choose to update and refine it or you could decide to start again from scratch with something completely new; your business specific needs can easily be understood on an individual basis.
Do you have a specific demographic that you're targeting? What are your products and services? Providing such insight will allow the web design agency to produce a focused and targeted website that caters to your business needs, giving you a tailored online presence that can really benefit your business and help you reach your business goals.
What are the most important things that start-up's need to think about in terms of their website?
This depends on the type of business, the industry you’re in and what service/product you provide.
First and foremost, having that online presence whatever your industry, can be critical. A website can give your business visibility and credibility, it can give people confidence in who you are and what you are able to provide.
A website is the first impression your business makes and can enable potential customers to find you in the first place – through Google search – or can allow them to do some initial research about you before contacting you to find out more.
Beyond these basics of attracting customers, there are a number of more advanced features you can utilise to ensure you are making the most of your online presence.
For example, Google Search Console is a powerful tool that can help you measure your site’s traffic and performance, allowing you to make data-based decisions that ensure your website is being seen by the people you want. Getting your business high up the search results is an achievable aim and making sure all your foundation work is in place, such as effective SEO and plug ins e.g. Google business listings and maps, linked social media accounts and live chat capabilities, will play a key role in the success of your website.
Being mobile optimised is also crucial as having a mobile responsive site is pretty much a standard requirement in modern times, with most people using their phones for web browsing.
How important is content?
Dynamic content and up to date content will help your website stand out and position you as a thought leader within your respective industry.
The website should be well branded with appropriate styling that reflects what you do, who you are and what you stand for. Your headings and web page formatting need to be structured in a way that’s clear and easy to navigate, user experience is key to keep visitors on the site and keep them coming back – increasing your traffic and visibility.
Positioning your content in the right places on the page will encourage users to engage with your offering and adding/updating this content regularly will keep you at the forefront of users' thoughts and searches.
A simple to use content management system will make it quick and easy for you to manage updates and changes yourself, allowing you to quickly add new content such as blogs, events or news. It can even be relatively easy to add new sections, pages or response forms.
Click publish and you’re ready to go.
The published content on your website creates a database of text and imagery which will allow you to incorporate a search functionality – meaning visitors can search a specific term or terms, for example the word garden, and all your pages with the word garden will come up. This feature will again help your website stand out and improve your SEO significantly.
Your content plays a huge role in how you are perceived, your visibility and how engaged people will be with your site. Creating and publishing compelling content can improve your SEO and increase traffic to your website as you become the ‘go-to’ source of knowledge in what you do.
You can add your latest product or service updates, consistently refresh your restaurant menu, update price lists or add customer testimonials or reviews. You don’t always have to be publishing insightful or cutting-edge material, you just have to make sure you’re updating your content regularly.
Business Growth Hub provides fully funded support for businesses at all stages of their growth journey, from start up to scale up; offering expert one-to-one and peer-to-peer support, events, training opportunities and specialist programmes such as Start Up Vision, Start Smart and Enterprising You.
Please enquire here for more details.
Portridge is a web design agency and a specialist business support partner for the fully funded Start Up Vision programme. Providing bespoke design services for SMEs wanting complete company sites, Portridge creates perfectly formed websites for small and start-up businesses, using years of experience and expertise to help you get the most out of your business' online presence.