Websites are increasingly an essential tool for businesses to communicate with customers. A website ensures your business is accessible; people can interact with your business online in a way that suits them, at a time that suits them. A well designed website creates credibility, allows potential customers to find you 24/7, increases the geographic reach of your business, and is an effective marketing tool.
Our resources provide advice on getting the most from your online presence as well as case studies highlighting how New Zealand businesses are using technology to improve their operations.
We recommend you schedule a periodic review of your website
Consider the look and feel of your site, for example does it look dated, is it easy to navigate and find important content and contact details? Consider what new technology has become common practice since your website was built? It may be helpful to see how your website compares with your competitors. Regular review ensures your website is performing the best it can for your business. Make sure you get others to look at your website and provide feedback. . A good place to start is to make a list of the pages in your site. You can then assign goals to each page or group of pages. This list is also a good place to track keywords, and other information as well as priorities to determine where you will focus your efforts first.
The following list of questions may be useful to consider when reviewing your website:
Do you have generic images? Avoid generic images if possible. You don’t want people to think your business is ‘generic’. Ensure your images have an emotional connection to the text. It’s better to have no image, than a poor quality image.
What are the benefits of selling online?
Selling online can increase your productivity and give your business access to an international, 24 hour a day marketplace of potential customers (much more than a traditional retail store is exposed to). To find out more about selling online from a small business point of view take a look at this article from NZ Business.
There is a wide range of options available for businesses to sell online, from building your own ecommerce shop to setting up a store in an online marketplace such as Trademe, Etsy or Ebay. A few ecommerce platforms to consider include; Bigcommerce, Magento and Shopify.
Steps to selling online
Do your research – investigate the ways you, your family, your colleagues, your friends purchase online, what is easy, what sites do you repurchase from. Consider how your competitors are selling their products – what works, what doesn’t. Read online articles and resources about setting up
Decide whether you want to sell your products from your current website, or whether you want to use an existing site, such as Trademe
Determine whether you are going to set up the ecommerce site yourself or whether a web design company will do it
If you are going to set up the site yourself investigate the products you could use, talk to colleagues, friends, business advisor, other businesses to see what they use. Also talk to your domain name provider
Don’t forget to ensure your online store accepts credit cards – this is a must for online commerce. Investigate the merchants you could use, such as Paypal
Read the section in this website on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Responsive web design is a type of web design that provides a customised viewing experience for different browser platforms such as computers, tablets, smart phones. A responsive website adapts to fit the screen size of whatever device is being used with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.
Why is responsive web design important?
As mobile usage, especially smartphones, is increasing it is important to accommodate the needs of your customer whether they are viewing your website on their phone or on a computer.
New Zealanders are embracing mobile shopping, take a look at how Kiwis are using mobile devices to buy online.
Steps to making your website responsive:
What are social media accounts?
Why integrate your social media accounts with your website?
Using your website as the centre of your online presence, linking all your online activity together can increase engagement with your customers and build the audience for your social media accounts. Integrating your website and social media presence gives people a choice of channels to stay in touch with your business, it also provides the ability to boost communication and service to customers and the potential to increase sales.
Things to consider when integrating social media accounts and using social media:
Note: To get inspired have a look at awwwards for best websites with social media integration.
‘Blog’ is actually short for web log. A blog is a type of website or webpage which usually displays information in chronological order from the most recent ‘post’ (or entry) at the top of the page to the oldest at the bottom.
What are the benefits of having a blog on your website?
There are a number of benefits to blogging. Blogs are a great way to position your business as a leader in its field. Sharing your expertise via a blog is a cost effective way to communicate with existing customers, and highlight your expertise within your industry.
Things to consider if you want to add a blog to your website
Often a lot of time and effort can go into creating a good blog post. Use this great content to your advantage by posting a link to your blog on your social media pages. But don’t just post the link, take time to explain to your followers why they should click on it and the benefits for reading the post.
To manage content changes to your website it may need to be on a content management system (CMS).
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
CMS is software that providers a user-friendly interface so you can create, edit and publish content on your website.
Why should I be editing my content?
Customers now expect websites to be dynamic, provide them with the information they are looking for and highly engaging. Gone are the days when your website looks like a brochure or a sales leaflet. Regularly updating your website will also improve your results in Google searches (see section on SEO). Also, updating your own website using a CMS can save time and money.
Where do I start?
Before deciding on a CMS, it’s a good idea to review a few options so you can choose one that best fits your website goals. Some examples include:
Because of the vast amount of information available on the Internet, users are becoming increasingly discerning in what they read. If the information on your site is poorly written it can detract from your message and send readers away from your pages. Consider the following when writing for your website.
Keep it short
Grab the attention of your readers by delivering short messages and using short sentences. Long sentences that stream from side to side of your web page are harder to read and look visually unprofessional.
Make it easy to skim read
The majority of readers will scan your page or article (rather than read every word). To help them out you need to make your page easy to scan by breaking the information into ‘bite sized’ pieces by using variation such as; headings and subheadings, bullet lists, numbered lists, step by step instructions etc. Photographs or images which support your message may help.
Start with the conclusion
Readers may not make it down to the end of your page, so make sure you get your point across in the first paragraph.
Think about titles
Capture the readers’ interest by using exciting titles. Keep them short. Consider including the main benefit or solution to pique their interest.
Target your audience
Think about who your audience and write for them, avoid generalising. Make your text personable and friendly. Appeal to emotions, especially if you are trying to sell a product or service.
Your text should be rich with information and succinct. Avoid using technical jargon where possible. In addition ensure your links are descriptive, avoid using ‘click here’.
Typos, errors and hard to read text will detract from your message and discourage readers from your site. Get your text proof read. It may be helpful to print off your text and read it in hard copy a day later, to help you spot areas for improvement.
Do your research
Ensure your content is factual and accurate. For more information on writing for the web refer to How to Write Successfully for the Web.
If you feel like you need more skills in this area there are also free online courses available on web writing, such as Writing for the Web by the Open Universities Australia.
Why have Video Content on a Website?
Online video is quickly becoming a key way for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs. It is estimated that by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. If small businesses don’t include it as part of their Content Marketing plans then they risk losing business.
Consider how popular video is already. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors each month. Done well, video is engaging, provides information in an easy to digest way, and in the era of information overload can almost seem relaxing as it takes less energy than reading.
Video content can be created to suit a range of budgets. Some options include engaging a video production company to produce content for you, or using an online tool to produce your own.
With the progress of technology, and the ability to record video becoming almost ubiquitous on smart phones, production costs can now be created to suit a range of budgets, making it an accessible medium for the smallest business.
Incorporating multimedia elements into your content enriches the quality of your website. In addition the inclusion of video improves the amount of time visitors spend on webpages as well as increasing social sharing.
Ideas for Content
When planning video content you need to consider your audience and ensure you video will be relevant to them. Following are some examples of video content that might be useful for businesses:
Vlog it – a regular quality video blog that provides the customer with useful information can be a good way to get customers revisiting your site and keep your brand ‘at front of mind’.
Tips for Creating Video Content
Initially the thought of creating a video for your business may seem daunting, but TweakYourBiz.com has some great tips for getting started.
Some examples of online tools that assist with video content creation include:
More information on additional tools and tips and tricks can be found on The Next Web.
Why have a customer contact facility on your website?
One of the key things customers want from a website is to work out the best way to contact you. If you're using an online contact form or email, providing an expected response time to customers (such as next business day) allows customers to be reassured they are valuable to you. Including a phone number to a physical shop or business cellphone gives a personal touch and some customers still prefer being able to call to talk to someone directly. Allowing customers to easily contact you and your business using your website is reassuring if they are considering purchasing from your business.
Buller-based adventure company Wild Rivers Rafting has a very good reason that its website takes bookings. “We don’t have an office,” says operator Bruce.
“The alternative for us would be to have a full on booking office. So just doing away with that and having just a simple website is actually way cheaper than the other options for us, he says.
SEO is short for search engine optimisation. SEO covers a range of strategies, techniques and tactics used to obtain high-ranking placement in the search results pages search engines, such as Google.
Why use SEO?
The use of SEO is like sending out invitations to view your website, without the invitations no-one knows to come and look. Users searching for a business online will often only look through the first few links on the first search engine results page. The higher ranked sites are displayed higher up the page and therefore the greater the chance of the site being visited. Ranking highly in search results for keywords that are relevant to your business can give you an edge over your competitors.
How to apply SEO
As SEO is very specialised skill it is best done by someone who is an expert (for example Google takes into consideration over 200 factors when ranking your website). However to improve your site’s performance you should consider:
Take a look at the SEO advice Google can give in under 10 minutes.
An online directory is a catalogue of websites that users can browse or search. These are usually put together and maintained by people. A search engine is an online tool (such as Google) that helps users of the Internet find the information and/or sites they are looking for. Most search engines use automated programs that search on key words.
Why list with an online directory?
Today’s consumers are more likely to search for a business on the Internet instead of reaching for the phone book. Most search engines will provide multiple references to a company within a particular region. These online references are likely to include listings with online directories, rating or review sites and social networks as well as company sites.
A domain name is the unique name that identifies an internet resource such as a website, for example www.digitaljourney.co.nz Top level domains are .co or .com, second level domains are .nz or .au and can indicate the country where the website is located.
Email can also rely on domain names to work, for example once your company has a domain name you can then set up emails based on that name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org
Why use a domain name across both website and email?
Using your domain name across your website and email creates a professional impression which customers look for and trust. If you are a New Zealand business then think about what domain name is right for you.
While there are many options available, a good place to start is to consider what your customers look for. If they see you as an NZ business then consider getting a .nz domain name. If you want to be seen as an international business then consider an alternative such as .com.
You can even register multiple domain names for a website and effectively target customers in different countries.
If you are already using email (eg: gmail.com or xtra.co.nz) here is a guide on how to link your domain name to your email address.
Research indicates that customers trust businesses more if they are using a registered domain name.
Hear why Survive-it use their domain name for both website and email.
This is what happens when there is too much, especially in the form of movement, video, and style, crammed into one website space. When there is a sensory overload a website becomes too complicated for a user to navigate and will discourage instead of encouraging customers. You want a website that contains all of the information that the customer needs so that they do not feel like something is missing; however you don’t want anything more than the essentials.
As much as your website is about your company you want the customer to feel as if it is about them. The customer wants information about your products, their interests regards your product, and information to potentially improve their experience with your product. A separate web page is useful for providing information about your company and history if you desire.
Dull or generic websites
If your homepage is your name and location and what you sell, or your website is never updated then customers are going to become bored with it and stop visiting Adding fresh content on a regular basis is essential but ensure that the fresh content is interesting and relevant. Providing a good reason for your customers to return to your website is essential.
Visitors should know within 10 seconds of landing on your site if they are in the right place and what makes you different. The name of your business and what you do/sell is essential but also what makes you unique, think about how you are different from your competitors and ensure your website highlights this.