Online business masterclass
Content supplied by Barclays
Got a genius idea for the next big thing on the web, but not a clue how to get started? Barclays asked Small Business Websites that Work author Sean McManus for his top tips.
- Build a good website
Setting up a website is the best way to find customers. You can learn how to create your own website or you can pay someone else to do it, but the most important thing is that it looks professional and inspires trust.
Try to create content (articles, videos, photos) that people are looking for, so there's a reason for people to come to your website in the first place. It's also worth learning about search engine optimisation, which is the art of making your website easy to find in a search engine.
If your idea is for a retail business, you might not need a website at all. You can list items for sale on eBay for a few pence, and sell products in Amazon's Marketplace. These are low-cost ways to advertise your products in places customers are already looking for them.
- Get the fundamentals right
This is pretty basic advice but it's crucial. Make sure your contact information, including an address and phone number, is situated in an obvious place and consider including Company Background, How To Find Us, Frequently Asked Questions, Team News and even Webcams, so they can see a glimpse of your business at work.
Testimonials are important, too, as people love hearing what others have to say about a business or your services, especially if you're not a well-known brand yet.
- Create printable pages
If your pages are printable and branded with your website address, as well as getting a presence on your customer's computer screen, you get one on their notice board or fridge door, which will be a constant reminder for people to visit your site. Stick to a white page and black text for ease of printing.
- Reward return visits
What brings you back to any of the websites you visit on a regular basis? Generally, you'll come back for a few reasons, primarily content. Few people will buy on their first visit, so you need to have content they'll come back for, giving them time to feel more confident with what you've got to offer.
Send visitors away with an arresting thought, a smile, a potential offer or hot news. But always try to send them away with the thought that your website is worth returning to.
- Remember the fold
When you click on a website, there is a screen full of content that is referred as 'above the fold', or in newspaper terms, 'your front page'. It's what people see without having to scroll down the page, so it's essential that your website's identity or branding, and navigation, appears here.
You should also think about having your hottest sale item or news feature right up there to catch visitors' attention immediately and make them want to read more.
Include multiple columns of text, so you can start several different stories above the fold and invite people to click to read more or scroll down the page to finish reading.
- Write for the web
Use short paragraphs and bulleted lists to accommodate short attention spans. Break up the text with videos (so long as they do not play automatically) and static graphics. Don't waffle.
You need to tell customers what they want to know straight away. Good website content is customer focused. Consider hiring a writer to smarten up your articles as good copy will make you feel more trustworthy and professional.
- Have a secure platform
The quickest way to financial ruin is allowing your visitors' purchasing information to be compromised. You need to partner with a company like PayPal for example, that will promise you the utmost security.
- Expert information on starting your own business
- Family budgeting and saving tips
- Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos
Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:
Barclays Bank plc takes no responsibility for the content of third party websites or the views and recommendations expressed by named third parties in this webpage. The material on this webpage is for information only. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England. Registered No. 1026167. Registered office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP. Barclays Insurance Services Company Limited is authorised and regulated by the FSA. Registered No 973765. Registered Office for both: 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP. Barclays Business is a trading name of Barclays Bank PLC. Barclays Bank PLC subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed and regulated by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products to consumers and related services. Further details can be found at www.lendingstandardsboard.org.uk