Making and creating a stunning website is an incredibly effective method to grow your business and reach both new and existing clients. A website gives you many extraordinary advantages; it provides you with a shop front window on the digital high street, makes it easier for people to find your business and can increase the potential for new deals channelled through e-commerce systems much like Amazon.

You may think the web isn't for your business or that getting a website is excessively costly or difficult. Don't stress. You may not know it, but you have the right skills to get started and this short guide will help. Here, we clarify the advantages of having an online business, dissipate the common myths, and offer some simple strides to get started.

Did you know that according to Google, 94% of people in the UK search online when trying to find local businesses? If you're not online, you could lose out on potential business but if you are, you could thrive. It's never too late to get started.

Five reasons why you should have a website

1. Customers find you easily

The client purchasing adventure has advanced as the web has changed the way we shop. Customers are ending up progressively dependent on the web, looking for information on what to purchase, where to eat, and which companies to do business with. 

Not all your potential clients are hoping to purchase online, however they are highly likely to research the businesses they want to use on the web. Potential clients could be looking for what you offer in your area, however will struggle to discover you if your business isn't on the web.

2. Your competitors are online

Most retailers have a website. When clients are scanning for products and services, they are pulled into the businesses that offer the products they want, nearest to their location. If your business is not online, potential customers will find your competitors first.

3. A website makes your business more trustworthy

Research shows that businesses that don’t have a website are more likely to be seen as less trustworthy and less credible to customers. The equivalent applies to email addresses. Research has demonstrated that businesses using free email addresses (e.g. Gmail and Hotmail) risk coming across as amateurish and being paid less attention to by clients. 

Having a yourname@yourbusinessname.co.uk is a straightforward method to raise your business profile immediately.

Utilising a professional website and email address expands the range of your business and upgrades your image and high street credibility. 

4. Ensure you're open 24/7

Clients hope to peruse and enquire about things whenever, wherever, all day, every day. This is the new standard. Making your business continually accessible with an online presence is a simple method to guarantee your retail store is never shut. Clients can visit you for all their purposes from wherever they are, see the items and services you have on offer, discover you, and look at your area and opening times.

5. Communicate with your customers

Having a website is an incredible way to become acquainted with your clients – it makes it much easier to communicate with them. You can easily inform them about your most recent items, events and promotions. In return, they can let you know what they need and how they think you are doing. There are numerous online tools that permit you to monitor your client base, communicate with them, get reviews and tributes, and website audits. 

Meeting clients’ desires is a basic requirement in this day and age of retailing. The principles of the game are changing and being on the web has turned into a key part of the high street. You can use a website as a stand-alone expansion of your physical business, and you can also manufacture an online networking presence to draw in clients, for example by sharing surveys and blogs. The degree to which you utilise social media will rely upon the age and interests of your clients, however for most businesses it is an extraordinary method for expanding the scope of an offer. 

A website and social presence can help you to communicate with your clients and energise deals, and you’ll also have the option to share and showcase the extraordinary things your clients are saying about your business!


Myth 1 - "I don't want to sell online so I don't need a website"

It's a typical misguided judgment that you need to sell on the web to profit from having an online presence. There are a wide range of ways to use the web to upgrade and advantage your business. Clients regularly utilise the web to discover and research businesses, not simply purchase from them. Even just showing clients where your shop is based and what times you're open can increase footfall to your store. 

There are loads of ways you can utilise a site to advance your business. For example:

  • A brochure website to guarantee your business data can be discovered on the web.
  • A promotion and marketing site where you can engage with clients in a conversation, through a blog or social media.
  • An e-commerce site from which you can sell products and services.

Myth 2 - "It's too technical for me"

It's totally understandable to feel intimidated by the thought of developing a website, yet the process can be very simple.

The web has numerous basic well-ordered assets to help get your site ready for action. Some site suppliers will take on the specialised work for you, and numerous site manufacturers will help newcomers make an incredible looking site. There's loads of alternatives to help you build up your digital skills, including free site formats that enable you to simply drop in your content and media.

Myth 3 - "I don't need a website; my business is doing fine as it is"

Having a website isn't all about selling online. It's about giving the clients access to resources that relate to your business, which could be a number of things. Even though your business may be running well, it's best to not be complacent. Being online can open lots of exciting marketing opportunities and allow you to strengthen customer relationships and increase brand awareness.

Myth 4 -  "It's too expensive"

If creating and maintaining websites was extremely costly, no one would do it. If you begin by investigating expert web-building strategies or costly experts, you may discover the procedure can be extremely expensive. However, there are loads of low cost ways to do it. 

Domain registrars (businesses who sell the space names), website platforms and web hosting services frequently have low cost bundle bargains, amazing deals and offers that you can exploit when you begin on the web. Facilitating a site can cost a couple of pounds a month and change depending on the size of site and what you need to accomplish.

Four steps to get started

Step 1 - Choose a domain name

A domain name is a string of characters that are used to identify websites on the internet. For example, 'google.co.uk'. Choosing the right domain name is one of the most important steps to getting online and there are some things you should consider before making your final decision.

Is it simple?

Making your domain name as simple as possible means it will be easy for customers to type, spell, remember and find online. Complicated or confusing names may have a negative impact on both your online and offline marketing attempts.

Does it reflect what you do?

Your website and email address are all about making a great first impression and your domain name should represent your business well. Make sure your domain name loosely matches your business name, as many customers will often guess your website address based on the name of your business. Having different domain and business names could become very confusing.

Is it future proof?

Although it is possible to move your website to a new domain in the future, it's better to pick a domain name that will stand the test of time right from the beginning. If your website becomes very popular and you decide one day to move to a different site, you could possibly lose customers through confusion. This requires you to think about where your business will go in the future and ensure your domain name won't limit you if you decide to expand your range.

Use an appropriate domain name extension

You need to think about which extension you want to use for your domain name. A top-level domain is the bit that you see at the end of the web address. For example, .co.uk .com or .net etc. If you're a UK-based business with UK customers it would make sense to choose a domain ending in .co.uk. You can get more advice and purchase a domain at the following address - theukdomain.uk/buy-a-domain.

Choosing a registrar

Registrars are online retailers from which you can buy your domain and there are many to choose from. Each offer a wide range of services for different prices so make sure to spend time researching what each registrar offers. Depending on what website you want to create and develop will change what offers you'll be looking out for. Website and hosting packages are usually charged monthly but again this will depend on the supplier. 

As your business grows your site will require more storage space which means an increased fee. 

Step 2 - Creating your first website

It's important to set aside time for planning when you start creating your website. You'll want to allocate time to design and work on what you would like to achieve.

What do you want your website to do?

Deciding on the purpose of your website is very important and having this in mind before you start and while you're creating your website, will focus your efforts. Keep in mind who your ideal target audience is throughout the process. What's their age range, interest, location and occupation? What would they like to see on your website? Services, blogs or information?

What type of website is best suited for your business?

As already mentioned, a website doesn't have to have e-commerce functionality to be an effective online home for your business. There are many websites offering a mix, such as:

Brochure website - These websites tend to be very simple. Their intent is to tell potential customers what your company does, what you offer and how to get in touch. This means you might only have a couple of web pages including an online catalogue of all products and general information. 

Blog - Some websites’ sole purpose is to provide news and blogs, however most businesses use a blog to compliment a brochure or e-commerce website. It can be a great way to keep clients up to date with the latest news relevant to your business.

Online shop (e-commerce) - An e-commerce website allows you to sell products directly from the website and take secure payments over the internet. Amazon is a well-known example of an e-commerce website.

Step 3 - Building your website

How do you want to build your website?

There are lots of options available for building a website for your business. This depends on your level of expertise, how much time you have and your budget. Many of the website building packages are very user friendly and offer simple functionality with 'drag and drop'. You could also consider:

A registrar - Most registrars offer web building services along with domain packages to allow you to keep everything to do with your website in one place. They are often relatively easy to use with lots of tools, and the registrar’s customer service will help you with any issues.

Website Builders - You don't need too much technical knowledge to use website builders. Weebly, WordPress and Wix are great examples of services that offer a large choice of free ready-made templates.

Web design agency - If you're short on time and have the budget available, it would be a good idea to involve an expert website design agency or freelancer to handle all the work for you.

What should you include on your website?

Regardless of the type of website you're building, there are some fundamentals to include:

  • Business name and logo
  • Selling point and the benefits of your products or services
  • A clear headline on what your business is all about and what you offer to customers
  • Contact details and location
  • Partnered businesses
  • Links to social media accounts

Test your website

Make sure to do intensive testing of your website and check that it presents well in all of the major search browsers (e.g Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer). Don't forget to test out on different devices as well, because modern websites must be mobile friendly.

Step 4 - Attracting customers to your website

Once you've got your website up and running, you need to start attracting people so your online 'showroom' isn't empty. 

Social Media

Social media is a great tool for raising brand awareness, particularly in your local area and for connecting with customers. 84% of UK adults are currently on social media platforms, which is a huge amount. Once you've built up a following, sharing your site content via social media is a great way to get more traffic to your website. You'll also be able to:

  • Build relationships with customers
  • Gain customer feedback
  • Easily share content and information
  • Improve brand loyalty
  • Create targeted advert campaigns

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is all about discoverability on the internet and optimising websites to climb up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS), so your business appears higher on the ranking list on sites like Google. Although it may sound complicated, there are some simple steps you can take to improve SEO. 

Local SEO is great for retailers as its main purpose is to target potential customers in your local area. For example, if you were to search for 'home interior shop' on Google, you should see a results page that not only responds to the keyword you typed in, but also tailors itself to your location.

Email Marketing

Email marketing involves using email as a tool to communicate with your customers, directly emailing your target audience to promote your business and products. One of the ways you can encourage customers is to sign them up for emails offering them a monthly newsletter of products in store. 

You can use email marketing to:

  • Enhance existing customer relationships
  • Acquire new customers
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate sales
  • Build customer loyalty

Learning from your online presence

Once you're up and running online, there are some great tools that can tell you everything, from where your target audience lives, to their age, and how many people are visiting your site.

Google Analytics is a popular and free website that provides in depth information and interesting data on how your website is performing. These are just a couple of examples of what you could find out from Google Analytics.

  • How many people are visiting your website (per day, week, month, year)
  • How long people are spending on your website
  • Which of your webpages are being visited the most
  • The age and gender of visitors to your website
  • Which devices people are using to visit your website

What are you waiting for?

Being online will open a whole host of new opportunities for your business, so what are you waiting for? If you would like any further support or information about anything featured in this guide or if you would like to discuss your website development with us, please get in touch via email at nowthen@steelstudios.co.uk or call 08712374432.