Website Start-Up Guide
5 Golden Rules Of Designing A Website (for 2012)
Follow these guidelines for your website and you will have a significantly more successful site. It will attract more visitors, get more conversions and more people will return to it and refer it to others.
It's not about you! It's all about the visitor. This is a paradigm shift in thinking for a LOT of business owners but you need to think carefully about what your visitors want and how they want it. Once that concept of being "user focused" is fully understood, it will impact the design, structure and content of your website to massive benefit.
Become a producer. A blog is the ideal platform, but you need to contribute to the knowledge base in your sector and be seen as an active member of your online community. It sounds high risk and a long term strategy, but the benefits include increased authority, more return visits, SEO food, increased sales and viral growth potential.
Write benefit orientated copy! The difference between "We have been around for 12 years and we're brilliant at...." and "Our 12 years of experience means you'll have peace of mind of choosing a company that knows exactly what you need..." is absolutely HUGE. Apply the BENEFITS your clients need to know and build your content around those.
Optimise your website! Google Analytics is free and insanely powerful. You can see where visitors come from, where they click and when they leave. If you want to increase your conversion rate today without cost there is no better way. Here are the steps, 1. Install Analytics > 2. Study user behaviour > 3. Draw conclusions > 4. Apply changes. 5. Repeat monthly.
Get Social! Facebook and Twitter have changed the game. Scratch your head, lament their faults - it won't alter their course...either use the power of social networks or lose out. Some businesses are a better natural 'fit' but the key is to learning how you can use social networks to engage your target market and share your business for you.
It's impossible to summarise just how good FreeAgent is. It handles all our invoicing, tracks payments, profit and loss and our accountant can use it for annual tax returns...everything! But, by far the best aspect is just how easy it is to use, and being online makes it a 100% accessible from anywhere. Simply...AWESOME.
Free calls over the internet, conference calling, instant messaging, transfer files, video calling...and wait for it...100% Free! We love Skype!
Anything over 10MB is (still) a lot to email so this online service allows you to send anything up to 100MB to people (via email) with ease - for FREE. We use and recommend their premium service as it allows file transfers up to 2GB and now has an optional online backup for anything sent - superb!
1&1 Internet - Domains and Hosting
We've tried and tested many hosting providers, but we chose 1&1 Internet. Their hosting offers the most control, features and has great 24 hour support. Most hosting companies have aweful admin areas but 1&1's is excellent. It lets you add email addresses, set-up databases and out-of-office replies quickly and easily. We recommend the 1&1 Business Package (Linux).
Catch22 Mail - Email Marketing
We spent literally years trying to find the top email marketing platfrom for our small businesses. We now customise the best in the industry for our clients. It is feature-packed, fantastic to use, increases sales and is very affordable. We understand this looks like a highly biased plug...but we took a poll and we're all fine with that :)
Business Start-up Resources
We recommend getting informed and getting connected to these sites:
- Small Business News (UK) - Handy resource for starting a new business in the UK.
- Entrepreneur - Thought leadership, insight, articles and resources for success.
- Startups - Plenty of information on how to set up a website from start to finish.
- Linked In - Keeps getting better and better...Get connected!
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