As a small business owner of either an existing business or a new venture, your thoughts will at some point, no doubt, have turned to creating a website. Often, this is prompted by people you meet interested in your products or services and wanting to know more, or by existing customers, friends and family suggesting it’s a necessary and simple task to do. Alerted to this need, you most likely became aware of the TV adverts showing people making the transition from business idea to trading reality in minutes - just a few clicks, a bit of drag and drop and you're trading. Simple.
The web build promise
Your Google research uncovers many, many providers to get you online and after some lengthy research into the tools, their functionality and taking a look at other people’s reviews, you narrow it down and finally choose a provider. You are now ready to build and here's the promise:
Enter the domain name you want,
Select a template,
Change the font,
Add your logo,
Upload your pictures,
Drop in a bit of text,
Publish your site and you're ready to sell.
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!
The web build reality
However, many small business owners tell us that the reality of the build came as a bit of a shock and it wasn’t the quick task they had been led to believe. Issues they came across included, for example;
The domain name they wanted was taken.
The templated options looked great, but were hard to adapt.
The pictures they had taken on their phone didn’t look professional when on screen - often, they hadn’t considered the background or that they cast a shadow in the picture when they were taking it.
Another frustrating outcome was that when they uploaded the images to the template, they all appeared as a different size and shape. And whilst the ‘free’ image options were handy for some pages, they still needed pictures of their actual product or service or of themselves.
The final stumbling block to their website creation was when they had to write copy for the site. Many people find writing about themselves really hard. You are so familiar with what you do, it is hard to make it clear, concise and interesting.
The final hurdle often faced by the small business owners that did persevere and get a site live, was that it didn’t deliver the results they’d hoped for. Either the site wasn’t found – by users or Google - or visitors to the site left quickly without browsing let along buying.
Why didn't my website work?
In most cases, in the ‘excitement’ of creating a website, consideration to the user experience and customer journey is often overlooked. Instead, the owner dogmatically adapted a template and the build ended up taking so much more of their time than expected, that in the end, after wrestling with the CMS tool, they were just pleased to get the content - any content - ‘out there’. As such, the website they built had no obvious priority to the content being shown, the navigation was confusing and the page layouts became cluttered. Furthermore, some key elements were missing, like Search Engine Optimisation, a web design that adapted to tablet or mobile, and analytical tools to measure website activity and online marketing campaign success.
The impact of social on web stickability
Furthermore, the consumption of social and mobile has driven a behavioural trait in consumers to quickly scan and scroll to make decisions about what interests them. This has driven the ‘time allowed’ by a consumer when they land on your website to find what they need, to get shorter and shorter. If a customer has to work too hard when they arrive at your site to find what they want, they will leave without buying, and without any measuring tools, you can only make an educated guess why.
How do I make my website work?
All is not lost! Be reassured that you've taken the right steps. CMS tools have certainly given us the ability to get online simply without the price tag of having a website built by a web developer. It also means you no longer have to wait for someone to make simple changes to your site because you can do them yourself.
But you just need to do a bit of prep to make them work to their full advantage. It might seem boring but just take a step back for a moment and make sure you're clear on the following elements so you can build your site around your customers.
We've broken the next steps in our 'how to get your business online' into two stages.
1. Defining your marketing strategy
Refining your idea,
Identifying your target audience,
Researching your market,
creating a plan
Choosing which CMS to use,
Plotting your customer journey,
Mobile friendly and responsive design,
Measuring and monitoring your site.
Want to learn more?
We’ve produced a series of in-depth 'how-to' videos and articles so that you can create your website and get started with your own digital marketing - go to our getting started page