10 Tips to Successfully Building Your First Business Website

You’re a business professional, a savvy entrepreneur, who knows how to make things happen. One of the first orders of business will revolve around creating and launching your first website. The good news is, even if you don’t know much about web design or coding in HMTL, you can still build your own website. Although it does take time and it does take effort, it is doable. Here are 10 tips to help you get your first business website successfully launched and off the ground.

1. Plan Your Website Before You Start

One of the biggest obstacles to launching a business website is a lack of planning. Think about the layout and what functionality you want on your site in advance. If you’re a visual planner, map it out on paper, or with index cards that you can arrange on a board. Name each page and break down what needs to be on it. From services to resources, the more you can nail down a framework for your content, the faster it’s going to come together. If you’re in doubt as to where to start, look at your competitor’s sites and make notes on the items and features you like. This will come in handy, especially if you’re working with a web designer. After all, the first thing he/she is going to ask you is “how you want your site to look,” and it’s always good to have concise answers. Collect product images, copy, and other content prior to starting and the process will go much more quickly.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Decide what you want your website to do. Are you after sales conversions or are you collecting leads? Is it just about boosting brand awareness? Do you need to integrate an app or two? The answers to these questions will help define the tone and functionality of your site. If you run a real estate brokerage, for example, it would be helpful to have maps integrated into your listings, and maybe a search module that allows potential buyers to find out what’s available in their ideal location. Restaurants should have menus and event calendars, but not necessarily eCommerce. Look at your website as a visitor would. What functions and features will bring them the greatest satisfaction? Do you intend to include a blog? Some features are as simple as integrating a widget. Others may require some custom coding. Make a list of the necessities and a separate list of the “nice to haves.” Discuss the specifics with your web designer to see what will best suit your budget.

3. Start Learning About SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is one of the most important components of doing business on the web. SEO helps to boost your visibility with search engines and drive “organic” (unpaid) traffic to your site. A good SEO strategy will bring remarkable value to your marketing efforts, so understanding what it can (and can’t) do, is always a good idea. Do targeted keyword research by using Google Keyword Planner or Keyword Tool. Finally, read up on current SEO trends to find out about the specific do’s and don’ts of SEO. They change frequently, so it’s always a good idea to stay current. Not having an SEO strategy is akin to having a bad SEO strategy, and not knowing about the elements that could potentially tank your ranking will probably harm your business in the long run.

4. Check Out the Competition

In order to stay on top of trends in your industry, you need to know what your competition is up to. You know this from a marketing standpoint already, but web trends are no different. Look at your competitor’s sites and take a page from their book. If there are features you like, chances are others will like them too. You don’t have to steal design elements directly (and you shouldn’t), but there’s nothing wrong with emulating certain features and functionality. What works for them can definitely work for you.

5. Use an Open Source CMS

WordPress is one of the most powerful open-source CMS’s (content management system) on the web. The advantages to using an open source CMS is that there are thousands of developers all over the world who can work with it, so you’re allowing yourself lots of flexibility at the outset and going forward. Whether you want to build your own website yourself or hire a professional web designer, WordPress is one of the best ways to go. Even if you start with one web design company or designer and move on to another at some point in the future, you won’t have to go through the hassle of finding somebody who knows your system. WordPress is the most commonly used CMS on the web so there are plenty of designers and developers that know how to work with it. WordPress is also easy enough to learn by yourself. You will need to purchase web hosting and install WordPress onto your web hosting account. Web Hosting Hub is a great choice for hosting WordPress and you can read my full review on this host here.

6. Make Sure You’re Mobile-Friendly

You may come across the term “responsive web design” here and there, which basically means that your website will need to be mobile friendly and be properly viewable on any device. Why does this matter? The majority of people today access the web from their mobile devices, and use them for everything from research to purchasing products. Search engines favor mobile-friendly sites, so it’s to your distinct advantage to make sure that your site is mobile-ready. Most CMSs like WordPress offer responsive themes/templates. If you are working with a web designer who is building from scratch, they will more than likely have the responsive end of things covered, but it’s worth making sure. During the design phase, always check your website on all of your mobile devices to make sure it looks great and functions as it should.

7. If You’re Using a Web Designer…

While you’re browsing open-source platforms, templates, and various different web design tools – and realizing that this is going to take time and effort – you might be tempted to hire a web designer. When you’re deciding on a web designer, make sure that you’re impressed with the work they’ve done in the past. Ask your colleagues for recommendations (if you like their sites, of course), or browse freelance sites such as UpWork, Freelancer or Fiverr to get the job done. If you are looking at creating complex web apps, you might want to hire a specialist, but for most basic design and content creation services, there are plenty of cost-effective options out there, and hundreds of talented designers, coders, and copywriters that are ready to work when you are.

8. Plan Out a Budget

While one person’s idea of “a lot of money” will differ from another’s, it is good to keep in mind that you will need to plan out a budget. Know that you will have to pay something – nothing good comes for free. If you’re building a website yourself, then you can literally save thousands. You will need to purchase a good WordPress hosting plan, a domain name, and likely a premium WordPress theme, which totals a couple hundred dollars at most. However, hiring a professional web designer, will cost a considerable amount more. You will need to shop around and determine whether you can afford hiring a professional web designer or not. If you go into the process with a budget in mind, you will more than likely be able to stick to it.

9. Don’t Use Flash Intros or Music

Flash is a proprietary compressed animation technology that was developed by Adobe. It’s pretty slick and cool, but sadly it isn’t compatible with many devices, especially iOS (Apple, iPhone, and iPad). It is considered a dead technology. Many people have Flash disabled on their devices or computers, so don’t use it. Avoid Flash at all costs. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to create movement on your home page that don’t involve Flash, such as using full-screen video.

10. Keep It Simple

There is nothing that looks worse than a busy, cluttered site that makes it impossible for the user to find what they are looking for. The last tip in this article is to make sure your website has a clean, easy to navigate design. Your site navigation should be at the top of the page, your contact information should be in the footer, and whatever your product or service is should be clearly represented on the home page. Keep it as simple as possible and let your business speak for itself.

Guest Post by Jay Douglas of Howtogetonline.com

 

3 Ways to be Successful in Email Marketing

Web Hosting HUB was at the 5th Annual Constant Contact event for Small Business Week this May 2015. We attended a lot of the workshops and had a booth set up for the over 1,000 small business attendees. A lot of the questions we got had to do with the steps following the registration of a website with a hosting company, as well how one should go about promoting their business. Given that the event was hosted by Constant Contact and a lot of the workshops had to do with content and email marketing, we’d like to share with some tips on email marketing for new and established businesses.  Here is our list of ‘3 Ways to be Successful in Email Marketing.’

1)  Start Small

There is no reason why you should be confined to the idea that email marketing works when you have thousands of emails on your list. Just 10 emails is enough to start on your email marketing journey. Why? Because those are 10 people that opted in to receive messages from you concerning deals or your content. That doesn’t mean stop growing your list – but by no means do you have to wait for a threshold of numbers before you start emailing your list.

Starting small allows for you to be short, concise, personal and to the point.

2) Be Useful

A lot of articles mention “To be successful you need to be useful.”  Yeah – go figure. How about some strategies?

  • Add an infographic
  • Send lists with expert advice
    • Depending on your industry, send tips that will be useful and help your clients
    • If you sell leather bags – send them “ 4 Ways to Prolong your Leather”
  • Offer web links to useful websites
    • TIP: link to your blog if you have useful content
  • Offer a Q&A via Survey
    • Sometimes members on your list have opinions, suggestions, and questions. Just send out a simple – “Howdy! How what do you think about this?”
    • This makes you better informed, and allows for your customers to tell you what they want

3) Have a Theme

Think of a tool. Craftsmen didn’t invent the wrench because they were bored. They created it because it was useful, and served a purpose. The same thing applies in your email marketing campaign. You need to have a theme for your campaign, and each one should be different.

The best way to break down purpose and theme is to first think of holidays, events, and geography. By inserting your campaigns with these three elements you cover a broad spectrum of space throughout the year.

If you’re emailing because of a discounted deal – say so. If you’re emailing to send your customer list a great article of tips – say so. Just have a purpose behind each campaign otherwise you’ll be crowding your monthly newsletter with content that will never get your users passed the subject line.

 

 

Roll Up Your Sleeves for #DreamSmallBiz

we-can-do-it

More Than Dreaming: Small Business 

Sometimes. No, scratch that. Anytime you want good results, it comes down to rolling your sleeves up and getting down and dirty. Even with tighter budgets, limited staff and resources, small businesses have a spark in them that keeps them motivated. And continues to motivate them to dream and dream BIG!

This sentiment is shared this year by the Small Business Administration’s announcement of the “2015 National Small Business Week (SBW)” taking places from May 4th to May 8th. The theme of this year’s SBW is to “Dream Big, Start Small.” We couldn’t agree more!

Tag your business posts with #DreamSmallBiz &  #BizHUB to show your support for small business or if you’re a small business yourself!

Web Hosting HUB wants you to make your dream into a reality this week. The truth is that you’ve wanted to create your website for a while now. You’ve wanted to post about the proper new-age diet for tabby kittens, or create a small online shop to sell your hand made necklaces or maybe you have an idea for the next Facebook. But ideas stop at the door of reality when we realize the daunting task of all that starting a business entails.

Not with us. HUB has always been dedicated to getting ma’ n pa’ shops,  bloggers, and innovators online as seamlessly and affordably as possible. We start our partnership with our customers by making sure they take full advantage of our 24/7 U.S based support team; because if you’re not as versed in the concepts of operating a website, you’ll need a hand – and we’re here to give it to you.

So what are you waiting for? You have everything to gain by registering today and start building your online presence. You’ll receive more traffic, more authority within your industry and peers, and you’ll have somewhere to refer customers that you meet at events and trade shows.

Don’t wait – success never does.

Why You Need A Website

responsive websiteIt’s 2014 and you don’t have a website (gasp! let me catch my breath). Maybe you don’t see the full value of owning a website or the need, but I’m here to tell you why you need a website from a professional standpoint. If you’re a student, business owner, or a working professional, then you make up a majority of the adult population and you need a website. I can’t stress it enough… which I think you can tell. There is no excuse as to why you shouldn’t have a website in 2014 and I will lay them out for you. The first thing that comes to mind, is that it’s an opportunity to make money and a lot of people are making money online.

If you want to make money and you’re a business owner, it would behoove me as to why you would not invest a little bit of money and sometime into a website that has little overhead cost, but that will expose you to potential new customers. Imagine if you will, that you are an interior designer and I was looking for your services, how would I find you? By word of mouth? Sure I trust my friends and family, but I (and I’m sure you would too) would jump online and do a little research. Imagine if you were not online, then how would I ever find what my friends and family told me about you as an interior designer? If I can find something, what is it going to be..? And this brings me to the next point as to why you need a website and that is that your name is a keyword.

Whether you like it or not, your name is a keyword and what shows up from an internet search can either have a positive or a negative results for you. We all know that you need to take everything you read online with a grain of salt, but why sit by and allow other to define your story; to define your brand? Instead of allowing others to define your story or brand through review sites and social media, why not change the conversation to focus on what you want the world to be talking about? If you had a website that you optimized to show up in the search results, then I would have seen your side of the story and not just what someone said on a third party website like Yelp. We all “Google” people for whatever reasons and one reason might be that you are an employer, which brings me to the next point as to why you need a website and that is to control your story.

keywordPerhaps you are in your final year of university or maybe it’s time to take that next step in your career and you start applying to graduate schools or to potential new employers. How do you plan to get there and wouldn’t you want to influence your chances of landing that dream job or graduate program at the top school of your choice? You have probably figured out where I am going with this by now and that is that people/customers/employers will research you online and what they find will either have positive or negative consequences for you. Let’s say none of your competitors or anyone has posted anything negative about you and that you have no online foot print… what then is that saying? Having a background in research, it would say one of three things to me; (i.) either you don’t exist, (ii.) you don’t know how to use the internet or you really hate the internet and (iii.) you have cleaned house and are hiding something. Either way, these conclusions are not in your favor and more the reason as to why you need a website from a professional standpoint.

With a website you can tell the world who you are and what you are all about. You are able to help shape the story people find when they research you and that alone is enough reason as to why you need a website. Besides being able to shape, manage and/or control your public image online to potential new customers or employers, you also have the ability to monetize your website’s content. Whether you do it with: Google AdSense, various affiliate programs (we have a great one that you should check out), sponsored post or you simply wanted to learn how to start a blog, your website has the potential to make you money. So, why let other people tell your story and third party sites like Yelp or Facebook make money off it, when you can? In my professional opinion, this reason enough as to why you need a website.