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What Kind of Website

Editors Note: Expert content needs an expert content writer and Yorkshire Powerhouse is pleased to publish this business advice article on Website Strategy and Internet Marketing, kindly written by a real expert in his field – Sam Hollis from Sam Hollis Web Design – Risk Free, Pay-as-you-go websites.

Please consider contacting Sam with any website design and build projects you may have in mind – just click on the advert links above or below – and please mention Yorkshire Powerhouse if you do make contact.

Your business has to have a website, right?  It’s become an assumption in the modern world that if you’re in business and you’re serious, you’ll have a website.

So, most businesses accept they need a website … but what kind of website?  Elsewhere on the Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’ve published a guide to deciding whether you should design your own site (normally using a templated system) or whether you should employ a professional designer / developer.  But an essential decision to also make is what kind of website should you use.

The decision is normally quite simple and should be based on what’s right for your client (not what’s right for you!).  Your client is using the internet for two reasons … to make a purchase or to research possible suppliers of a product or service.  As such, you need to make sure your website is providing the right kind of information. And makes it as simple and tempting as possible for a visitor to engage with your services or buy your product.

Here’s the Yorkshire Powerhouse guide to the different kinds of website and why you might consider them:

Thinking about what kind of website your business needs?

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E-commerce website:

This is great for those selling physical products. It’s an extension of your physical shop or another ordering system. It makes life simpler for you and your customers. This is also a great way to sell virtual products. It could be documents, videos, tickets or even a voucher for your time. Using E-commerce to sell these things make the process easy to use for visitors and simple to manage for you.

Here at the Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’ve seen all kinds of things sold on e-commerce sites, from baby grows to spectrometer servicing kits (!!!) and the consistent thing here is that the website makes it easy for the customer to purchase what they want.

Clearly the two dominant sites for e-commerce are Ebay and Amazon.  These are highly established platforms that offer advantages and disadvantages depending on what you’re selling, your profit margins, etc.  The main advantage they have is mass-market appeal.  But they’ll put you up against a lot of other competitors selling similar things and it simply becomes a price war and a ‘race to the cheapest’! They also take their share of the income which you need to factor into your financial projections.

Owning your own e-commerce website can be a complicated affair and we’ve prepared a guide to the implications of this – click here to read more. But don’t be put off. With a little thought and some good support, it can work really well.

Page driven / brochure website:

This is the ‘normal’ approach to website design.  The website is essentially an online brochure for your business, products and services.  You have a series of pages that provide customers with all the information they need and a contact page to allow them to get in touch and make contact with you.

This kind of site is perfect for a ‘head office’  It allows them to present themselves as a highly professional, credible organisation.  Perhaps of most use where they are being checked out by potential future clients or being assessed for a tender.  It’s usually a great start for service-based businesses, but works much better when combined with one of the other ideas below.

Most template-based systems are geared around this ‘page driven’ approach.  That doesn’t mean it’s the best for your business on its own.

Blog / article websites:

You’re looking at one!  The Yorkshire Powerhouse is a site based around sharing high-quality information.  Its purpose is to make the information helpful and easy to access.  It is funded by advertising revenue and is effective so long as the content is genuinely of interest to the reader – you can be the judge!

Your blog site doesn’t have to bring in revenue. Blogs are great for SEO and, so, helps drive visitors to your site. Blogs are also great for explaining things to prospects, showing your expertise and helping people. A brochure website (as above)  with a blog can be a powerful combination. It stops your brochure site from standing still and not being visited. See our article on blogging for more advice.

Lead generating website:

When you’re thinking about what kind of website you need, you’ve probably never heard of a lead generating website!

The ‘problem’ with a traditional page-based website is that it doesn’t actually generate many enquiries or leads.  Most website visitors are ‘just looking’ and are not yet ready to engage with you.  As the website owner, this can be quite frustrating as you see hundreds of visitors to your site and not that many enquiries.

A lead generating website generally uses ‘squeeze’ pages.  These try to encourage the user to swap a little bit of personal information (say an email address) in exchange for a download containing information that might be of interest.  Doing this, and assuming your site allows for it in its privacy settings, you can then send follow up emails to the person, gently nurturing them towards your business. Make sure the free give away is tempting. The more you can give away the more tempting it will be. Make sure it’s fully branded for your business.

Personal brand website:

If you are a sole trader or consultant type business then it’s normal that your message is more ‘personal’ than ‘corporate’.  This is not to say unprofessional, but more that the reason someone will deal with you is because of you and your personal skills and knowledge rather than some corporate message.

As such, a website that presents you to the world with some of your personality and charisma is more appropriate.  A personal brand site is a combination of a blog / article website and a personal profile (such as a Linked In profile page).

A series of personal brand sites is also a powerful mechanism for a larger business.  The business itself would have a more traditional ‘corporate’ website (page driven or lead generating type) and the customer-facing staff could also have their own websites allowing them to improve their ‘authority’ on the internet and their individual expertise.

Membership website:

Do you have the skills and knowledge to help others? Selling your time in a business can work to a point, but if there is only one of you, this is limited. A membership site is a way you can spread your knowledge and skills to a much wider audience. Members typically pay monthly and get access to a range of resources. Different membership levels can work really well. A free level with one or two useful resources is a good start. The different levels of membership can then get more resources. Higher-level access could also include 121 or group time with you. This is a great way to get your skills and knowledge out to a much larger audience than would normally be possible.

Conclusion

Make a decision and get your site built. Things can always change as time goes on. A brochure site can add a blog. A blog could eventually become a membership site with the blogs becoming paid for resources. Decide what’s best for your business right now, and make a start.

Take expert advice on website strategy.  Your website should be the cornerstone of your business marketing but it should integrate into all your marketing and have a consistent message and style.  Speak to a marketing strategist who understands the internet to make sure you get the right balance.

Yorkshire Powerhouse helping you understand what kind of website you need

You’ve read our thoughts on what ‘kind’ of website – have you any questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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