However big (or small) a part your website will play in your business, there are some fundamental things you need to think about before you start to build it:
1. What is the purpose of the site?
Just as you need to be clear about the purpose of your bFor the majority of businesses, a website is a necessity for all sorts of reasons. Your business may rely solely on the internet as its channel to market (think eBay, Amazon etc), or it may just be a shop window to tell potential customers more about what you do, why they should use you and where you are located (think Solicitors, Consultants, Vets etc).usiness, you need to be clear about the purpose of the your website. Is it there to provide potential customers with information? Or do you want customers to interact with it e.g purchase on your site or take part in polls or discussions? What action would you like a visitor to take? You need to really think about the reason you are building the site and what you hope it will achieve. If you are clear on this, you will start your journey on the right path.
2. Who do you want to visit the site?
Your website should be written for your target audience. These are the people that you are hoping to attract and therefore your messages, your navigation and your design should appeal to them. Do these visitors have any special needs that you need to meet (for example accessibility requirements)? Do they need to access information that’s not publically available (for example a members-only section)? Do they need to be able to take some action and what does that mean for the functionality of the site? Clearly defining the target audience from the outset will help you to decipher the key messages, the navigation and the functionality required.
3. What do you want to tell people?
We touched on this in the previous point, but being very clear on the key messages that you want visitors to your site to take in is really important. You don’t want a website which is drowning in copy. People just don’t spend long enough reading through everything and, on their initial visit, will be ‘scanning’ through your website looking for key words. Think through what those key words are in both your industry and in your business. What benefits are there to people using you over a competitor? Keep copy crisp and to the point, but write to a consistent tone. This will make information much easier to digest for the user and will naturally invite them to want to read more about what you have to offer.
4. Design is key
As an industry, we’ve come a long way in the past 10 years. Websites are now like a good publication, but with the added bonus of interactivity. The most effective sites are beautifully laid out using a template. The template should reflect the brand of the organisation – colours, layout, language, imagery. The visitor should feel that they have stepped into ‘your world’ and really enjoy being there. A good website designer will add subtle touches which really make a big difference to the user experience and can guide you on the best ways of taking your visitor through your world, ensuring that they are exposed to all the key messages you want to highlight. A simple colour scheme usually works best with copy broken up with good quality images and icons. Tables can help to display large amounts of data and bite sized chunks of information which ‘click through’ to more can help the visitor to not become overwhelmed. Signposting through beautifully designed arrows and scroll-throughs really enhance the user experience and ensuring that the site is responsive means that it will automatically re-size to the screen that the user is viewing the site on.
5. Future proofing
It’s impossible to be build a website that will be 100% relevant for your business year after year, but ensuring that it is built flexibly will help to keep one eye on the future. You need to be able to update information, upload new photos, move around the order of key messages throughout your site, update or build in any timely messages such as offers or news items, upload new blogs and change your logo if need be. Just ensure from the very beginning that you have some flexibility to change things over time. Successful businesses evolve over time and their website should too…
We hear about security breaches in the digital world every day. Fortunately, it doesn’t often affect us directly – but for this reason its impact can easily pass us by. Website security is of paramount importance. If you have a website, it must be secure for the sake of your business and your customers. Imagine what could happen if your site were hacked! It could stop you trading with immediate effect, and your long term reputation really compromised. Ouch.
This thought sends shivers down our spines. Security of a website is one of the most important things to us, and we spend a significant amount of time and effort protecting the websites we build for our clients.
As web technology experts we use a variety of different approaches including regular updates, fixes, de-bugging and SSL certificates to keep the hackers at bay. For some clients, a more enhanced service is needed, so for them we provide extra barriers to help protect their particular business. This includes things like monitoring, encryption of data, enhanced back-ups and more. If you’d like a bit more detail on security, we’ve pulled together our 5 top tips:
7. What happens if I get stuck?
When you are looking at a company to build your website, you need to think about what long-term customer service they offer. This may not be something you need very often, but when you do, it will be worth its weight in gold! The frustration of feeling ‘stuck’ and not knowing what to do or how to improve things wastes so much of your time and energy. We provide all of our customer with ongoing friendly support, as well as offering them the option to purchase support packages up front to help to manage their budgets.
We are Olamalu, web technology experts based in West Oxfordshire. We have years of experience designing, building and hosting websites for a broad range of industries using Drupal technology. We are a friendly team who are passionate about using technology to solve business challenges and deliver our solutions through excellent customer service and offer ongoing support packages. www.olamalu.com