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Setting your website up for success

By Patrick Schaudel, Head of Product Unit – Sitebuilder, Marketing & eCommerce at IONOS

When setting up a new website, or optimising an existing offering, it’s vital businesses get the basics right to attract and retain current and future customers. Here, Patrick Schaudel, Head of Product Unit – Sitebuilder, Marketing & eCommerce at IONOS, runs through five key elements to ensure your site’s success.

1.    It’s all in the name

Your name is your brand, and it’s essential your chosen web domain name is reflective of your business name, or your business offering. If your brand is in a specific sector or industry, reference this within your website URL where possible. For example, if your business is titled ‘Holistic Solutions’ and you work within the farming sector, try ‘Holistic Farming Solutions’ to make it easier for your customer base to find you.

It’s also essential that your brand name is reflected across all online touchpoints. Your business’s social media handles or YouTube account should always include your brand name verbatim if possible, so users can easily click through or search after browsing your social pages.

2.    Make use of tools

Setting up a website can feel like a daunting experience, especially if you’re a new start-up and haven’t done it before. However, there’s a host of tools readily available online that can make the process easy, and create a really professional feel for your site, without any coding or design experience.

Homepage construction kits, for example, offer fully customisable templates – you just choose a theme, layout and input your necessary brand information for each webpage. The designs often include smart sections so that content can be quickly moved and adapted, and a responsive design means that your site will look and perform well on desktop or mobile.

3.    Think of the theme

Imagine your website as you would a home or office space – you want an ‘interior’ theme that reflects your brand or personality, and a colour scheme that ties all content together. Paler colour schemes or multiple shades of one colour help give a professional feel. Whereas if you’re working within a creative sector, bold, striking colours can help express this visually.

Your homepage should attract attention, so lead with an image that mirrors the core of what your business does – whether it’s a shot of your product being used, an image that highlights your service, or if you work in a freelance role, something that truly reflects your brand. Just ensure you own the rights to all imagery used –  remember you must have a license to use anything copyrighted that has been copied and pasted from other online sites.

Finally, your website should also look ‘clean’. That means a uniform typeface throughout, blank space rather than overcrowding, and a simple user journey that’s easy to follow.

4.    Navigation is key

User experience plays a huge role in a visitor’s perception of your brand. Think of your ideal layout before you begin using website tools, and always have a visitor’s journey in mind. That means making sure each webpage comes in a strategic order, visitors can easily find what they’re looking for, and can spot where to go if they need more information or to contact your business.

Ask your friends and family to test out the website before you go live, and flag any mistakes, issues or recommendations. It’s good to also set them a task of finding a specific product or page – if they’re struggling to do so, you’ll need to rethink the layout.

Remember, reading content on-screen can be straining on the eyes. So keep any paragraphs of texts as short as possible, and try to use imagery to break text up. Only your ‘about’ page or blog should have more than 1-2 paragraphs of text.

5.    Optimise your offering

We live in a mobile word, where many customers search and buy on their mobile phones, rather than desktops. With that in mind, it’s essential to ensure your website is optimised for mobile use. Test the way your website looks on a phone, and change elements if needed. As mentioned, your homepage builder should be responsive, meaning it should adapt when being viewed on a mobile device.

You should also make sure your website is updated weekly, if not daily. Check all your pages for misinformation, and update text to reflect the latest changes or information about your business.

Finally, ensure you link to your website whenever relevant from your social media profiles to offer more information. It’ll be a simple and effective way of driving traffic through to your website and increasing visitors. Remember, it’s rare to ever find a perfect website, so ask for feedback and reviews, and edit your offering accordingly.