How to find and design a business website

How to find and design a website

At Small Business Plans (SBP), we write hundreds of businesses plans every year. The next step, especially with our start up clients,  is often to build a brand, get a really effective business website, and begin their marketing journey. 

We are often asked for referrals to the people that we use for the various tasks and functions that drive a really great marketing approach. Below is the distilled wisdom from our many years in helping small businesses, and from running our own business.

The steps at a glance:

Before you start contacting website builders, here are the things you need to know about business websites:

  1. They have evolved, and are still evolving very rapidly, from glorified brochures to tools that both build a brand and grab new customers or sales leads. And more!
  2. Like any industry or profession, people who will build your website range from amazing and brilliant, to … not so much.
  3. To many business people, a website lacks the tangibility of a brochure or a catalogue. Because it’s not a tangible thing that you’re buying, it can lead to miscommunication between what you as the client wants and what your website designer will do. 

Therefore, the following steps address these three challenges: 

  1. Start by having a really good look at what your competitors are doing and have done with their business websites. As we always teach in our business plan workshops, and we always write in our plans, understanding your competitor is a real shortcut  to understanding the standards that you need to meet and beat in every aspect of your business. But in this blog, we’re just looking at their websites.
    • Spend quality time on their websites and understand what exactly they are trying to do with it, what they’re achieving, what they’re not achieving, how much you like it, and how emotional their appeal is. Remember, brands are emotional – if a website doesn’t make you feel something, it’s not really building your brand (but it might be doing other good stuff). 
    • When you have decided what you think is effective and/or like about their website, make some notes as to which bits of their site you want yours to also have.
    • Then repeat the whole process for someone that’s completely outside of your category and industry. Why? Because your category/industry may not represent best practice, and your competitors may not be all that good – so your source of inspiration can come from both them and other best in class providers.

  2. Beware the shonks. With no disrespect to website builders , every industry has shonks, but it also has amazing people too. So, the obvious question is, how do you find the amazing ones. Firstly, be a good client. If you approach the web developer having not done Step One (and so have no real clear idea of what you want) but you expect them to get out their crystal ball, then … you’re dreaming. Secondly, write a very clear description of the type of person that you want to work on your website based on your learnings from your competitors’ sites. Do you want someone who will write a huge site with many pages and lots of features, or do you want someone who will write you a simple but effective landing page?
  3. Thirdly, stipulate exactly what you want on your business website. Think about the number of pages, what the pages will be, etc. Again, copy but improve on your competitors.
  4. Fourthly, think about how much of the information you have, how much you need and whether the developer  will need to get any of it. A good example would be images – are they supposed to source the pictures, or do you have licensed ones to use?
  5. Fifthly, what do you want the web developer to make your site do? Do you want it just to look pretty and make clients and prospective clients think “Ahhh”? Or do you want prospective clients to get information to help them decide about buying from you? Or do you want them to actually click on something and give you information about themselves, because at some point they may want to buy from you, or maybe even want to buy from you right away?
  6. Sixthly, place a well-worded ad that summarises the above on a jobs board (such as Airtasker, Upwork, or Fiverr). Be very prescriptive and use a budget. If your requirements are just a glorified brochure: $300-$500.

If you want a good-looking site with a bit of interactivity that does a little bit (such as captures names and addresses, and allows people to download brochures): $1,000.

If you want a site that’s interactive and gets leads for you, with well-designed graphics and professionally sourced pictures that aren’t just boring clichés: $1,500+.

(Obviously, if you’re reading this, you are savvy enough to know that these numbers are approximate. But the best way to hire someone who will really understand exactly what you want is by talking about a price with them upfront. This will also make them realise that you are savvy and tell them the scope of the job – in one go.

Make sure they use a standard, universal app/program to build the site like WordPress. And make sure that you tell them you will need to log in and access the program yourself – if you ever need to [get rid of them])

  • So, with all that information above in Step Two, you will have either found your web developer soulmate or you’ll be able to frighten off the person who has a plan for your website that has nothing to do with your plan for it.   

If all of this sounds bewildering and you would like to run through some of your thinking on any of the steps we’ve outlined above, or if you have some questions about creating your business website, click here to book a one-hour coaching session. We can point you in the right direction and get you started with steps one and two, as well as the six sub-steps within.