For any flourishing business, setting up an online presence means juggling several jobs at once. Especially right at the beginning, trying to stay on top of so many responsibilities can be a pretty daunting task, so it can be easy for something to slip your mind. But be careful here! If any area of your website is neglected early on, it could descend into chaos further down the line, and this could have lasting consequences for your entire company. You can avoid this by developing a solid plan for creating your website. To help you stay on track, we have compiled a list of some of the key tasks every budding entrepreneur should have on their to-do list.
1. Snap up a memorable domain name
When building a website, finding the perfect domain name is one of the very first challenges you will encounter – and one that will have a critical impact on the way your website is perceived. But competition in the domain name game is stiff, and securing a snappy URL that encapsulates your brand can be an expensive and time-consuming business. There are many factors to consider here: the website’s name shouldn’t be too long or difficult to remember, and it needs to have an obvious relevance to your brand or company. Thankfully, there is a wide range of domain name checkers available online to help you choose a suitable name while keeping costs down.
While there are many tools out there for generating ideas, this handy domain name checker from 1&1 is a great option if you are looking for an effective but cheap domain name to help get your business off the starting blocks. In addition to suggesting a variety of alternative domain names and extensions, this tool also shows you how much you can expect to pay for a one-year subscription, making it easier for you to manage your budget.
2. Secure your URL
Enabling SSL is another way to reassure your visitors that your website is authentic and legitimate. The average consumer is savvy and will not disclose any sensitive data to a source they do not trust. If your website requests any personal information, your visitors will be checking for warning signs before proceeding. SSL encrypts all sensitive data in order to protect users from identity theft. The newest version of the certificate, Extended Validation SSL, is the highest form of protection available and is quick and easy to implement. Even without this knowledge, that little green padlock in the corner of the search bar can do a lot to build your visitors’ trust.
To learn more about how to secure your website against hackers and viruses, check out our previous post on how to keep your site safe and secure.
3. Create an attractive layout
Image is everything for modern consumers. The internet has massively changed the way we share and consume content, with news items and information becoming increasingly visual. To keep your finger on the pulse and ensure your website is relevant to a modern audience, it is crucial to have an appealing format without relying too heavily on words. This also means ensuring your site looks great across a range of devices. Busy schedules and the omnipresence of technology means that website owners have to think beyond the desktop screen and consider scalability when developing a layout.
Thankfully, you do not need any experience in web design for your site to look sleek and seamlessly adapt from desktops to mobile devices. Whichever CMS you are using for your site, there are plenty of resources online for ready-made themes and designs, many of which are completely free.
In this increasingly interconnected world, it’s vital to have an active presence on as many platforms as possible, so that you can simultaneously expand your outreach while making yourself contactable, anytime and anywhere. The websites you choose to be active on should reflect the character of your company to a certain extent. For example, it makes sense for a business with an interest in design, art, or fashion to maintain a Pinterest account or an attractive Instagram feed, while a marketing firm would benefit more from having an active blog on Google+.
There are, however, certain social networking platforms that you should pay particular attention to. The two major players in social media, Facebook and Twitter, are versatile enough that their features can be adapted to meet the needs of businesses across a range of sectors. As two of the most popular social networking platforms in the world, maintaining a strong presence on both of these sites is integral to building up a strong and reliable internet presence. Key aspects of retaining a professional image include replying to comments and messages in a timely manner and posting interesting and varied content on a regular basis (free, of course, from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors).
Another site that is critical for presenting a professional image is LinkedIn. As a business-oriented website, LinkedIn provides a unique platform for companies to show themselves in a professional light. With their sleek designs, LinkedIn company pages appear modern and readable. In addition, companies have a blogging platform, a section for recruiting, and a biography area at their disposal. While LinkedIn’s traffic is lower than competing social networks, keeping your LinkedIn up to date will ultimately benefit your company’s reputation among potential candidates and business partners who come across your profile.
Consistency is key to creating a strong and memorable image. This applies not only to your online presence, but to all areas of your business. As mentioned previously, your domain name should be the same across all of your online platforms, and ideally, this should be the same as your company name.
When it comes to consistency, the visual aspect of your site is also incredibly important; if your business has a recognizable logo, and uniform font, layout, and color scheme, your visitors will remember and associate these elements with your company.
Finally, content requires a consistent style guide and tone. Too many alternate spellings will make the company appear unprofessional, while if your business lacks a discernible voice, it may confuse or put off your target audience.