10 website building top tips every start-up should know

Looking to get online? Experts share their tips and tricks to help you build a website that works…

1. A website should function like a well-designed supermarket…

“…Shopping aisles (sections of a website) should be clearly labelled, groceries (important pieces of content such as site navigation and search) should be within easy reach, and the checkouts where you complete the transaction (completing a contact form or purchasing) should be fast and efficient. Finally, remember to say thank you!”

Justin Norton, web developer, J Norton Interactive Design

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2. Prove to potential customers how credible you are

“Credibility is key. Customer testimonials are word-of-mouth recommendations in the digital world, and look great on your website. Endorsements create trust in your business, especially if visitors can see details of who’s said what. Never underestimate the power of a well-known brand. If you’re associated with a bigger company, make sure it’s on display.”

Jared Turner, founder, Actual Digital.

3. Present users with clear Call-to-Actions

“What do you want your visitors to do? Every page should have an objective, whether it’s viewing prices, buying or simply getting in touch. Make it easy for visitors to know what they should do next. Make sure the links that advance this journey (often referred to as ‘call-to-actions’) stand out on the page, and that the text is descriptive, not vague – for example, ‘BUY NOW’, not simply ‘Continue’.”

Chris Baker, marketing manager, Made Simple Group

4. Avoid a high bounce rate with simple design

“Try not to pack your website full – negative space is just as important as images and text in order to frame and highlight your content. A clean and simple design will ensure visitors won’t bounce off in frustration from not being able to find what they’re looking for. You have a small amount of time to engage with a visitor to your site – so make it easy for them to get started.”

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Andy Prior, graphic designer, Andy Prior Designs

5. Be mobile-compatible

“Make sure your website works on mobile devices. 10% of all web browsing is done on mobile devices such as a smart phone or tablet, and that percentage is growing rapidly. You need to be sure your site is as accessible as possible, or potential customers may give up and go elsewhere.”

Alun Davies, web developer, Deeg Consultancy

6. Get to know your users – test, test, test!

“The one basic principle I stand by is: don’t presume to know what visitors to your website want. Come up with some basic user journeys, identify some changes that may improve the process, and test them! A/B testing, multivariate testing and usability testing is essential, and doesn’t have to be expensive. Free tools, such as Google Content Experiments, can help you analyse the success of an alteration to your site.”

Mark Rowntree, web development manager, Mamas & Papas

7. Get quality hosting with good support

Whatever you do, make sure you have a good quality web-hosting service. If your hosting goes down so does your website – so it’s worth investing in. Website hosting varies greatly in price and what may seem like a bargain-bin price may actually end up costing your business enormously, particularly if your website goes down and there isn’t a technical team provided to help you. Check the company has a good reputation, UK-based servers, is a solvent business, and comes with technical support – to fix any issue that prevents your site being live.

8. Optimise your position in search engines

Think about the search terms people needing your services are likely to try in Google – and put them in the text on your site. Using a certain keyword phrase several times, in different styles of text (headline, body, sub heading, bold) will increase the strength of your relevance for that phrase, and in turn improve your ranking in Google. The higher your search engine position, the greater visibility you and your site will get.

9. Your domain will connect you to an audience

A country specific top-level domain (e.g. .co.uk) helps search engines more easily identify the location of your website’s target audience, which means your website will be more likely to appear in search rankings when someone’s searching in that location. If your target audience is based in the UK then there’s also a slight advantage to having UK hosting for your website, primarily because they’ll then experience a faster page load time. In addition, it helps to have your technical support and maintenance downtimes focused around the times your site is accessed by your target audience.

10. People are impatient – so make sure your site loads quickly

There’s no point having a beautiful website if it loads so slowly that all your users leave immediately. Keeping your website design and structure simple will help it to load faster and you should make sure that your HTML code is cleaned up too. Remove any unnecessary tags, comments, and if possible put all your CSS and JavaScript in external files.  Also – if you make sure you specify the height and width of your images in the html code of your site, your webpage can load other content at the same time as your images.

Startups has reviewed some of the most popular website builders to help you get started – read our guide to the best website builders for small business here.


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