These days, almost any website is better than no website. But some websites are still better than others.
Here’s a checklist of the important points to make sure your website strikes.
Prior to launch:
1. Find at least 30 – 40 businesses whose products or services are similar to yours – what works on their sites? What's not so good? Steal what works and forget about what doesn’t.
2. How can you stand out from these other businesses? What is your brand? What is unique to you?
3. Find the best hosting you can afford.
4. Invest in your own domain name. Anything else presents an unprofessional image.
5. After the above research steps, literally sketch out what you'd like your website to look like. Simple design and uncluttered navigation - you are trying to focus your customer on the key points. Direct their attention as aesthetically but as simply as possible.
6. Organise your information logically - where would a customer want to go next? This is not necessarily the same as where you want them to go next.
7. Unless you’re using a professional web designer, look for a themed template that closely resembles your sketched out design.
8. Make sure to include the following pages:
a) Home page – feature your very best images in large format; include an opt-in of some kind; make sure that there is a ‘call to action’ clearly visible.
b) About - write your About page as though you were a member of your ideal audience, welcoming them and giving them an idea of what to expect from you and your business. Put any needed technical details about your business in a separate drop-down page.
c) Lots of images rather than text - text should be minimal. Go for large images – shoot for 500+ pixels wide, with file resolution set to 72 dpi or ppi.
d) Each product or service should have its own url on your site.
e) If you’re selling individual products or services directly from your site, clearly label each with a title, description, and a 1 - 2 paragraph description or story on the page. Stories sell.
f) Blog – use your blog to tell the story of your business in human terms, make customers fall in love with you, and encourage sharing. Be open, engaging, and fun. Add your personality.
9. Use size 12 - 14 web-standard fonts, nothing too quirky or hard to read. The Internet is for images more than text: try not to have more than 4 lines in a paragraph and use sub-titles as much as you can.
10. Don’t have:
• auto-playing music when your site loads or auto-video – most customers will find these annoying and you’ll lose them immediately
• special mouse effects of any kind
• any other kind of ‘effect’ which interrupts the line between your customer and your products or services
• any 3rd party advertising – your website should be about you and your stuff. Ads distract from your message, and won't bring you much revenue unless you have thousands upon thousands of visitors.
• background images
11. If applicable, have Paypal Buy Now buttons discreetly positioned by all products and services.
12. Make sure your contact information is on every page, and is easy to find.
13. Also, on every page have a discreet but visible link to your biggest, most premium and most expensive product or service. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
14. Make sure that your site is mobile responsive.
15. Have all your blog posts and other content point to your sales page with as few clicks as possible.
16. Regularly display testimonials from customers.
17. Have at least some SEO to make sure your site is visible.
18. Put social sharing buttons on all of your pages, especially your main products and services.
With the above in place, you have a foundation upon which to build.