Today, my clients hire me as a site consultant and ask me for ideas on how they can build a better site. With so many other open source and free CMS programs, plugins and other tools that require very little knowledge of coding and programming. Many of my clients have asked me, "which CMS is best?","how do I keep my site professional, while staying with the trends?" and "how can I drive traffic to my site?"
To better answer these questions, I recently revisited a great article that I found last year on Mashable.com, it offered some valuable tips on how to build a simple site that will attract visitors and have them coming back for more. Here are a few tips that I've come up with along my journey in site building, some of which were inspired by the Mashable article.
Finding a HostTo get your site started, you will first need to sign on with a reliable hosting company. Now, I know that you are running a business and trying to cut back on your overhead expenses, but having a free "blog" will do little to attract clientele, who are willing to pay for your services. To build a professional site with any CMS, you will want a hosting service that will support your online presence. There are many VPS or virtual private server hosting companies that charge small monthly or annual fees to offer you multiple email accounts and allow you to store and archive large files of data. The average fee for a Windows VPS hosting service is between $30 and $50 per month, which is a smart investment considering the amount of traffic that a well-made site will bring to your front door.
The Right LookTry out some of the free templates that are offered by Wordpress that will project the look and feel that your business is going for. Don't be afraid to take chances and be bold in your template's style; if you don't like what you see and want to take your chances with another CMS. Two that I like are Weebly and Jigsy. Both are free and easy to use and have hundreds of professional templates to choose from. Weebly also offers cool extras like HD video and audio players, animated slideshows and an iPhone app, so you can post updates to your site while you're away from your laptop or desktop.
Using Social MediaOnce your site is ready for clients to see, one great way to attract visitors is to let your friends on Facebook and Twitter know that you have a website and ask them to pass the site onto their friends. Create Twitter and Facebook fan pages that link to your website and promote your brand further. When you're ready to build your brand, it's a good idea to promote it as widely through social media as possible. Provide incentive, whether it's coupons or discounts, to the first 100 fans who "follow" your Twitter page or "like" your Facebook page. Once you've got that many, try for 1,000 more and then 1,000,000 more. The sky's the limit in social media.
Client ConversionThis last piece of advice will help you if you are having trouble getting visitors to fill out those dreaded contact forms. Neil Patel, owner of two Internet companies that measure the conversion metrics for companies, Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics, advises small business owners to create contact forms that are easy to fill out with a limited amount of required fields. Limit your fields to name, email and message and you will see how quickly you get the information that will get your client-relationship ball rolling.
One final note, and then I'll leave you to your fun and exciting task of getting your business online, there is so much information that you might believe is necessary to have on your site; but the more sparse and simple your site is, the faster you will reach your audience. Be bold, simple and logical in all of your design and content ideas and before you know it, clients will start pouring in.