How To Make A Professional Website in 2022
Having a website is still one of the best options for selling products and services online, and it doesn't look like that is going to change for the foreseeable future.
Here are all the steps you need to go through to create a successful website in 2022.
- Set Your Goals
- Choose a web builder or outsource to a professional designer
- Define your layout
- Claim your domain name
- Gather your content
- Add the right pages
- Usability should come above everything else
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Pick the professional tools you'll need
- Make your website accessible to everyone
- Engage with your visitors
- Optimise for mobile devices
- Call a friend
Step-By-Step Guide: How to Make a Professional Website in 2022
1. Set your goals
Before you do anything else start making a list of things you want your website to achieve. This will define the type of website you will need. Here are some examples;
- Ecommerce website allows you to sell online
- Portfolio websites will be arty and showcase your work (art, design, photography etc)
- Landing pages are focussed towards promotion and joined to a specific marketing campaign
- Estate agent websites allow customers to contact multiple estate agents, and do multi search filtering. Or load photos of properties to sell and rent
- Blogs allow you so share knowledge
- Service websites allow you to showcase your services
There are so many types of websites, we won't list them all here, but there will always be one that will fit your situation.
The one thing all websites have in common, they all need the customer to carry out a goal;
- booking an appointment,
- buying a product,
- joining a mailing list,
- making contact
People as well as Google need to understand what your website is about within seconds of landing on your website. Neither have the time to decipher what it is you do. If you have multiple objectives this can result in confusion and people leaving your site prematurely, and when Google spots people aren't hanging around, they will move you further down the search rankings.
2. Choose a web builder or outsource to a professional designer/developer
You can use a website builder and create your own website; you'll probably have to put in around 20 to 30 hours a month if not more while you learn to design, code, correct mistakes, and work out what your customer wants. Or you can fast track and outsource to a professional website designer/developer, and only have to put in around 2 hours a month. Eventually you'll end up in the same place, but the scenery along the way and end result will be very different.
A professional website designer/developer will take care of must things for you, so you can relax about this part of running a company. Here at DR Adept, we design the site, develop the CMS to fit with each individual customers needs, produce content, keep products updated, promote customers websites using blogs, social media and advertising. If you need help just give us a call.
You should now be at the stage where you know what you want your website to do, and whether you will build it yourself or not. Remember the website builders on the market are owned by large American Corporations, and if you want to ask people to support you as a local business, then its only right that you also support your local website designer.
Website builders start you off on a free package where you can design, publish and host your website for free. Once you want tailored features that will actually get your website noticed, then you have to start paying fees that are often higher than using a local website designer. If you have the budget it's always going to be better having a professional website from a local website designer, then trying to do it all yourself.
For those of you who want to do it yourself, here are the things you need to consider.
3. Define your layout
It takes seconds for someone to judge you by how your website looks. This is why it is so important to have a great layout that speaks to your customers. Website builders have plenty of templates you can choose from, but often you will be choosing what you like, and not necessarily what will work for your customers. A professional designer will have the experience needed to guide you and provide you with the perfect solution.
People designing their own website tend to stick with one page that visitors scroll through, which is also great for mobile devices. However, Google responds better to websites with lots of content and you can't place hundreds or thousands of pieces of content on one page and expect everyone to continuously scroll. A website needs a menu and well placed links within content so people can get to what they want as fast as possible.
It's a great idea to look at what others have done and write down what you like, this will give you a good basis to starting your own design.
4. Claim your domain name
A domain name is your address on the internet, it's that bit you see after the www part. You should pick a domain name that matches your business name. At one time many companies decided to pick domain names that matched their keywords such as 'burystedmundsbestrestaurant' which are known as exact match domains. They were used in the hope that the website appears first in the search results for anyone looking for the best restaurant in Bury St Edmunds.
It is always best practice to go with your company name as Google prefers brands, and it sets you apart from your competition. Build a customer base that will know and recommend you by name, not a generic set of words.
Once you have your domain name you'll then be able to have a custom email address. Example firstname.lastname@example.org
How to choose a domain name:
- Keep it short, a person has to remember it, the longer the name the more chance for misspellings.
- Avoid symbols, special characters and numbers.
- Your domain name should be your brand/company name to avoid confusion
- You could add a keyword to your domain, DRAdept would add DRAdeptwebdesign, but that doesn't help if in the future the business changes. SEOmoz changed their name to MOZ and they lost a lot of traffic and their top position in the search engines for months and had to work even harder to get back to where they were before the name change. So future proof your domain as much as possible.
Don't worry if your domain name isn't available. Try different variations of spelling, or add your location. Also look into .com, .co.uk etc.
5. Gather your content
Content is something a website designer will sort out along with a copywriter. Unless of course you already have marketing material that can be reused on your website.
Now is the time to bring all your content together and decide what can be used on your website. This will include your images, slogans, videos, text and much more. Your content will need to be created by you and not copied from someone else, it's always better if it's in your own voice if you are the person customers are going to deal with. If you don't have the ability to write your own stuff, then use a copy writer who specialises in website content, either from a sales, SEO or blogging prospective, depending on what the content needs to do. You can obtain images from companies such as elements, pixels, pixabay, and unsplash, check the details for how the image can be used.
Quality should be your priority over quantity. The more content your website has the slower it will load to a device. It's getting the balance right between what the search engines want, and what your customers need. Without the search engines your customers won't find you, but pleasing the search engines can annoy your customers as they vote with their feet and go off to the competition.
Spread your content across your website and don't put everything on one page.
Think about your brand, from your website to social media to advertising and real world print. Everything should tie together. It should all present who you are, the colours need to be consistent as well as the fonts and your logo.
6. Add the right pages
Here are the main pages you shouldn't miss out.
The homepage: This is usually the first page people land on. It needs to be clean and well organised. Only display the most crucial information - your logo, your business name, and call to actions to encourage the customer to look further.
Product or service page: Add high quality images, preferably ones you have taken of your products. Describe your product/services as precisely as you can, and have links to your terms and conditions (shipping, returns policy etc).
About page: Tell your story, your values, your methods, and every other piece of information that helps to depict your brand; what is it that makes you stand out from the crowd. Use 'I' or 'We' as this will make the page feel more personal. If you can do humour, add some. Then include a picture of you and your team.
Contact page: Keep it simple. Add your phone number, postal address, email, social media accounts and a contact form.
These two pages are considered extras but they do help to turn visitors into customers so we highly recommend them.
A blog: This is were you can showcase your knowledge. It will boost your reputation and help you to create a loyal customer base. Plus it helps with the websites SEO. Your readers will love to discover the tips, methods and hacks you use to solve problems, which may resonant with them.
Testimonials: There is no cheaper way then having existing customer recommend you to others. Ask your customers for testimonials and include them on a page on your website. Testimonials mean half your job has been done for you, you simply have to close the sale.
7. Usability should come above everything else
Unfortunately a beautiful website is not enough, people are not visiting your website to gaze at your design, they want to get to something they need. Your website has to navigate them towards their goal in a timely manner. This is what we call 'user experience' and it involves:
Architecture: Your website needs to seamlessly flow and have no places where someone gets stuck and can't move forward. There is a 'two-click rule' - get the visitor to where they need to be within two clicks. This can be achieved with menus and well thought out content links.
Colour: It is best to limit your pallet to three colours, one primary colour (60%), one secondary colour (30%), and one accent colour (10%)
Colour can be a powerful thing, making a person relax, feel excited or getting them to take action. Amazon worked out after years of monitoring and data crunching that the orange of their buy now button was the most effective colour to have to encourage people to buy. It also stands out against the rest of their website.
Calls-to-action (CTAs): CTAs are the messages that tell the visitor what it is they have to do. Examples of CTAs are 'register now', 'subscribe', 'buy now', 'pre-order' etc. They can be a button, a banner or a link within the content. They need to be short, have a verb (action word), and include an element of urgency.
Fonts: Pick a font(s) that are easy to read on a desktop as well as on a mobile device. Keep it to three fonts max so the page doesn't become visually confusing.
Footer: The top of your page is the header, the bottom of your page is known as the footer. The footer is usually where you find contact information, and links to important pages such as the sitemap, terms, delivery and returns information. This is often where social media links are, although they can also appear in the header.
Menu: This is the main door to the rest of your website. It's the place that makes it simple to get to all of your content. It has to be on every page, it should be fixed so no matter how far someone scrolls down the page, the menu also scrolls down and can be seen at the top of their screen. A menu should be kept to a minimum number of categories for mobile devices as you don't want to overload a small screen.
White space: This is the area of your website that doesn't have anything in it. It gives your visitors a rest and effectively gives them a bit of room to breath. Don't be scared of white space on your website, filling up every part of a page will just be over stimulating.
8. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Getting the search engines, especially Google who is the biggest in Britain, to notice your website takes a lot of work. Where your site gets ranked is determined by how competitive your industry is, the number of links to your website from other websites, quality of the content, uniqueness and much more. SEO is a science in its own right, which requires time, patience, and persistence in order to get results. It can take years to get into the top position in the search results, so don't expect it to happen over night.
There are steps you can take while building your website and many more can be added once your website is launched.
Keywords: If you talk to your customers on a regular basis, you'll know what language they are using to find your products or services. You'll also know the main questions they ask. You can produce content for pages on your website that answer those questions. You can also use these words as your keywords.
You need to decide on your main keyword and a few secondary ones but no more than that. Place your keywords within the title tags, page meta descriptions and within the content of the pages the visitor will read. Don't go crazy, your content needs to make sense to a person, and if Google spots keyword stuffing (filling a page with one or two keywords) you'll get a penalty and it will be hard for your website to come back from that.
Hierarchy: Put the important stuff towards the top of your pages. Use different heading types so Google understands which are more important (heading 1 is going to be more important then heading 2 and so on). Headings also allow your readers to skim to the bits they want to read.
Local SEO: If you have a brick-and-mortar shop (office, studio etc) you will want your website to appear at the top of the results for people who live or work in your geographical area. Use Google maps and Google My Business to give Google the correct information about your business. If you are in any directories make sure your information is up to date and correct.
Alt text: Google can't see images, after all it's just a computer. To help Google understand your content, use the alt text label to add a description to any pictures you have on your website. That way Google will know what they are and you'll appear in image search as well as the main search results.
Internal linking: The more you inter-connect your pages with links, the easier it is for bots to navigate through your entire website. Add links to relevant locations in your text, inviting people to discover more pages of interest.
9. Pick the professional tools you need
This can be anything from secure certificates, payment processing, image storage, customer data storage and much more. This is where it comes in handy using a professional designer as they will be able to tell you exactly what you need and they will get on with it. It can be difficult to connect a payment system to a website, or you might not be able to use your choice of bank if a website builder has a specific payment gateway they use.
10. Make your website accessible to everyone
When websites and web tools are properly designed and coded, people with disabilities can use them. Making your website accessible benefits individuals and businesses.
International web standards define what is needed for accessibility.
11. Engage with your visitors
Customers have come to expect to be able to engage with you through your website and social media. Adding the right tools will help you to convert visitors into customers, and customers into loyal advocates for your brand.
Live chat: This provides your customer with another way for them to quickly get hold of a representative in your business who can offer support and help. Live chats are usually a small window that opens at the bottom of a screen, a visitor can clarify a few sticking points which the live chat can deal with thus helping to convert that visitor into a customer. If they have a complaint, and come to the live chat, the complaint can be rectified and head off a bad review.
Social media: To become successful at using social media, you will need lots of fantastic content that keeps people on the social media platform, once the social media platform starts to reward you by showing your content off to more people, then you can add the occasional link out to your website. You'll need to come up with a well planned social media calendar, brilliant social media content ideas to inspire your followers, and the tools to create social media graphics.
You'll also need to connect your website to your social media accounts. Add social media icons with links to your social media accounts either within your websites footer, or under or next to your menu on the home page.
Newsletter: Email is still a major source of traffic to your website. Better still these are people who have asked you to contact them through your newsletters, so they actually want to hear from you. You can advertise your products or services, promote your blog articles, or celebrate your company's achievements.
Forms: These are great for feedback. Keep them short as the longer they are the less likely the customer is to complete them. They can give you lots of information that you can use to improve your business, and/or can be used as testimonials.
12. Optimise for mobile devices
All websites should now display correctly on whatever screen size they are displayed on. Check as many different screen sizes as possible while using your website. If there is anything that irritates you or slows you down, then it will also have the same effect on your visitors.
Make sure your website works well across all mobile devises. When displaying on a smaller screen, not all elements that are used for a desktop need to be used on a mobile device. You shouldn't need to try to enlarge anything when scrolling through your website, it should all be easy to read and the buttons big enough for a finger to sit on, the same for menus and links.
13. Call a friend
Friends and family are not always the best people to use to test your website on. They will think anything you do is great, or won't want to hurt your feelings. But if this is all you have available to you, get them to test out your website before you launch it to the world.
Provide them with a list of actions you want them to carry out while on your website. They can then tell you if they had difficulties. Rectify any problems before you launch the site.
You have launched your website, but it doesn't finish there. You will need to update it with fresh content on a regular basis. Information and technology moves too fast for you to be able to stand still. Try to be as original, valuable and as fresh as possible.
It's still necessary to have a website for the foreseeable future, it is the hub where you bring everyone back to from all advertising, social media and face to face contacts. It's the place you have full control to drive your visitor into becoming a loyal customer.