A great website is essential to a successful business. When people come to your site, that's often the first impression they get.
If it looks professional, sets a tone that fits the business model, and makes it easy to find information, it will bring in new customers and encourage existing ones to return. How well it does this depends on you, the business owner.
This doesn't mean you have to manage every detail of it. The first skill you need is the ability to delegate. If you come from a tech background, you may know how to run a site all by yourself, but there are more important demands on your time.
You'll want technical people to run it and writers to create content. However, its overall character is your responsibility, and you need to know enough to give it the shape it needs.
Let's quickly look at the components of a WordPress website.
- Pages are static content. A business website, as opposed to a simple blog, will always have these.
- Posts are the blog part of the site. You can choose to have a blog or not.
- Themes are a combination of code and style sheets that controls your site's look.
- Plugins are code that gives your site additional capabilities.
You need a theme that can give your site a layout and look that matches your business's style and needs. A professional designer can give you recommendations, but the final choice is yours. Are you appealing to the impulse buyer or the accountant? Should the site look exciting or conservative?
You don't necessarily need an eye for the fine points of design, but you need the ability to tell whether a site conveys the message you want.
You generally should delegate writing the content, but its direction is your responsibility. You need to decide what to cover and what tone to set. Review the writers' work to make sure it matches.
What do you want your site to do? In addition to presenting information, should it let people fill out a form to request a personal response? Do you want to sell things online? Should it include a blog, and if so what should it cover?
You need to understand what's easy to do and what's harder or impractical. Including a blog with weekly updates isn't hard. Adding e-commerce is possible but takes a significantly higher level of commitment.
Plugins can do many things that a basic WordPress installation can't, and a designer can recommend ones for your purposes. Some plugins let you add widgets to a site. They can appear everywhere, or in pages or posts you select, adding useful capabilities.
Other plugins let you generate page content for special purposes or help you to analyse traffic to the site. You need to work with the developer to choose the ones that will enhance the site and think carefully about whether ones that just add sparkle are excessive or not.
You need to understand Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the art of maximising your site's rank in Web searches. One of the most important things to understand is that companies like Google have a lot of experience with attempts to game their rankings, and the attempt usually backfires. What does work is well-chosen titles, the use of keywords in a natural way, and outbound links to relevant content.
Encouraging others to link to your site is a huge help, but "link farms" won't fool the search engines. Plugins are available to aid with SEO. The important thing for you as the owner is to encourage sensible SEO and discourage cheap tricks. If it looks like a cheap trick to you, it will almost certainly look like one to Google.
Understanding social media is important. You can greatly increase your site's outreach by tying it to your company's accounts on major sites. This is one of the best reasons for having a blog; with suitable plugins, you can automatically post to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr every time a blog post appears, linking back to the blog. This will help your SEO and make it easy for people to follow your news.
You need to understand the analytics you get from plugins well enough to make decisions. Is your traffic growing? Are people finding your contact page? If not, it could be time to look at what needs improvement. If it's working, figure out how to capitalise on it. Growth in views isn't enough unless it turns into growth in sales.
In brief, your job as a business owner is to decide what the site should accomplish and to give your people the necessary direction to accomplish it. To learn how we can help you achieve that, please contact us.