Setting up a basic website is stressful enough without having to think about further developments.
But, as stressful, time-consuming and complicated as it might sound, your website is often the first impression your customers have of your business.
It’s also something they will return to again and again.
At its simplest, you can view your website as a virtual networking event – it’s a chance for you to introduce yourself, hand over your contact details, and give them a bit of insight into who you are and what you do.
When it’s really working for you, your website becomes the hub of all your online marketing efforts. It’s a central nexus around which all your offers, products, and services interact with the world.
It’s a showcase of everything you’ve achieved, everything you’re capable of doing, and everything your customers’ lives can become if they work with you.
As a business owner, your site is not a thing you look at once, and then never revisit. It should be a constantly evolving mechanism that draws traffic, prospective customers, and profits to you.
In the virtual world, it’s an almost living entity that’s constantly growing, changing, and improving.
Or at least, it should be.
Website development services look at your website, and consider the ways in which it can become that nexus. How can it grow? What ways can it improve? What new functionality could be added to improve the customer experience? What new features could be built to enable the business to expand into a new area, or add a new revenue stream?
When it comes to business growth, web dev is one of the best investments you can make. Here’s why…
More Than Just A Website…
Let’s say you’ve been noticing a load of posts on Instagram showcasing what appears to be an epic product. Everyone’s raving about it. And you want to know more.
You head over to their bio and click their website link. This brand really looks enticing and you would like to see all of their collections.
That’s what their website is for.
In digital marketing, websites are essential. It’s through your website that you will generate most of your ROI and build a relationship with your customers.
If you find it hard to acknowledge the importance of a well-executed website, try and think about it from another perspective.
You have an actual, physical shop in the centre of town. You’re naturally going to take the time and care to ensure it was clean, tidy, well stocked, and had enticing window displays to draw in new customers, and lure back repeat business.
Without that effort, all you have is a messy, dirty storage room that’s not only going to fail to attract people, it will actively discourage them from coming in (or coming back!).
And it’s the same with your website.
Your website is far more than just information presented with a fancy design: it’s the core of any online business that should improve your growth and leads.
In order to become and remain that essential attraction magnet, luring people in and convincing them to come back again and again, you need to put some effort in.
Why Is It Important To Update Your Website?
There are a lot of great reasons to keep your website up-to-date. The first, most obvious, reason is ensuring your customers are happy to use it and to return to it for further information and purchases.
The complex version is that a website that’s updated regularly is much more likely to convey the intended message, to be positively ranked by search engines, to load and run quickly (pleasing users and, in turn, the search engine gods), and to remain safe from a cybersecurity point of view.
But let’s dig deeper into all the possible developments your website could benefit from…
What Are Website Development Services?
Simply put, website development services allow you to expand the functionality of your website. This may mean improving the site’s speed and usability. But more often it involves adding ways for visitors to do things they couldn’t before. For example, by adding a shop you allow people to purchase items from you directly, with the click of a button.
Increasing functionality on your site will improve your user engagement levels from different points of view.
Dev services can affect the design, the user experience, and the interactivity of your platform according to the latest trends and your audience’s needs.
6 Services That Will Help Your Website Grow!
Maybe your website is well designed and was thoroughly thought out.
Maybe it’s fast and your users find it easy to use.
But still, you notice new and emerging trends in your industry, functionality on competitor sites that your own can’t match, and you want to ensure you’re keeping up with the proverbial Joneses.
And maybe your website wasn’t well built at the start. Maybe it’s a quick one that got thrown up so there was some form of online presence for your business, but now you want to actually work for you.
Here are some of the top development services that will help you grow your business…
Bookings Made Easy…
Booking and payment systems are essential for many activities. You probably already appreciate this kind of option when it comes to your own experience as a customer!
How frustrating is it when you want to book a hair appointment, or a table at a restaurant, you go to their website and there’s nothing.
You have to call them.
And speak to a person.
It’s frustrating, and irritating, and may discourage you from using that salon or restaurant again, in favour of somewhere that lets you book with a couple of clicks online.
Non human interaction needed.
How does that look when you consider it from the perspective of your business, and the customers or clients using your website?
If you offer any kind of bookable service – wellness treatments, medical appointments, beauty therapies, even consultations or viewings – the odds are your customers are frustrated at the prospect of having to call to make an appointment.
It’s too time consuming; having a full conversation takes far longer than selecting a box on a calendar, auto filling your details, and hitting ‘Book Me In!’
It’s not as easy to do while juggling other things. A conversation requires your full attention. It’s also obvious that you’re doing it. You can’t just quickly make a booking from your phone at your desk in the middle of the work day before you forget. Calling means stopping work, and everyone overhearing you on a personal call.
You also have to account for potential human error. What if that person on the phone forgets to add you, or double books you, or writes you down at the wrong time?
Adding an online booking system to your site is one of the best ways to improve its functionality.
Many people experience genuine anxiety at the thought of making a phone call, and will choose not to do something at all, if the only way of arranging it is by phone.
You will save your customers the headache of having to call you – and God only knows how we Millenials hate that…- and you will optimise the way your employees’ workflow is managed.
No more messy notebooks.
Flexible Payment Systems…
Just like nobody wants to faff when it comes to booking appointments, nobody wants a complicated payment system. Having a quick and flexible way for people to pay you directly, via your website, is one of the best ways to maximise your profitability.
Now, you might think this is only relevant for people who sell products directly through their website. But service-based businesses can also massively benefit from having payment systems readily available.
Why not package up your services at fixed prices and offer a simple website signup? Or have an online portal that allows customers to sign up to a direct debit system you can invoice them through.
The more steps people have to take in order to pay, the more likely they are to have second thoughts. Having inconvenience in the payment system is another issue. Maybe they want to pay via PayPal. Or perhaps they want to put it on a credit card. If they’re anything like our Head of Marketing, they will hate having to use any method of payment other than Apple Pay – she never remembers her wallet!
With an online payment system, you optimise the way in which you get paid for your services, avoiding unpleasant surprises such as clients forgetting or simply not paying you.
Online payment and booking systems can also be combined for a more effective result: take a deposit or full payment for your booking at the point it is made.
You can also develop a system that tracks time, such as a calendar, in order to determine how much you need to invoice your clients.
For example, lawyers and accountants use modified versions of a calendar and booking system to track their billable hours, which can then be invoiced to clients, who pay through the website. Similar systems are used by recruitment agencies to track time spent by themselves on clients, but also time worked by temps and part-time staff who are employed through them.
Setting Up Your eCommerce…
If your business is selling products – be they physical or digital – getting your eCommerce setup correctly is as fundamental as having the right content strategy. How else were you planning on selling your products or services otherwise?
If you have a product-based business, adding eCommerce functionality to your website is an absolute no-brainer. If you don’t have a bricks and mortar business, you need a way to sell your stuff. Even if you DO, adding an online branch to your sales can massively increase your potential customer base and revenue.
Let’s take Killstar as an example. This quirky brand exploded onto the fashion scene a few years ago with a brick and mortar shop in Scotland. The locals went nuts for their clothes, shared them on social, and soon people of a slightly gothic persuasion were flocking to the store from all over the country.
A short while later they built a website and began selling online. Sales exploded internationally. They realised online sales were far more lucrative than the expense of running a physical store, and became a digital-online company.
They now sell exclusively online and operate with a digital-first team of remote workers.
But what if your business model doesn’t include selling products?
You might think eCommerce is a pointless exercise, but you’d be wrong. Whatever you business model, there is a way to create digital products that you can sell virtually – think eBooks, webinars, online workshops or, even templates for blogs and design.
Budding entrepreneurs have been making millionaires of themselves for several years now by selling eCourses that teach people how to do what they do.
Just think about that for a second. You already run a business. You have expertise in your field. If you could bottle that expertise in an eCourse you only had to create once, but could sell an unlimited number of times and create a powerful form of passive income and a whole new revenue stream.
Having eCommerce functionality also allows you to more easily book fixed price services, by having them available as products – for example, we offer a content schedule creation service and an SEO training day which are both available to purchase as products on our site!
Mobile And Responsive Development: Aka I Want To Be Able To Read Your Blog From The Bathtub, Ok?
We all live more connected than we would actually like to admit. And that’s a fact.
Most of us will experience some calm moments at home where there’s nothing much to do and we can simply scroll through our favourite websites for new products or content.
Then we remember that we still have plenty of laundry and dishes to do and we regretfully close our laptop and save our purchases for later on.
You pick it up again the next morning on your tablet, as you’re on the train to work.
Maybe you find two or three options and you take a couple of hours to think it over, finally making the purchase on your phone as you’re standing in line for a coffee.
The majority of people these days use multiple devices. They have their personal laptops, their work PC, the iPad, their Kindle Fire Tablet, and their smartphone.
They have short attention spans, and flit between devices, which means your website needs different versions so it is always perfectly functional, no matter the device used to look at it.
Big screens may show you a perfectly designed site, while smaller laptops are a nightmare to view it on as the design is all over the place.
If your website isn’t fully responsive, and able to function perfectly regardless of the screen size or type of device in use, customers will be discouraged from looking. They’re a lot more likely to get frustrated with your site, click away, and check out one of your competitors’ websites.
And that’s the harsh truth.
Make sure that your website is readily accessible from all the platforms your customers might decide to use. Mobile? iPad? Computer? Make sure they’re all equally enjoyable and offer the same features.
When in doubt, think about what you like and dislike as a customer of other businesses!
Custom Website Coding – Because The Days Of Cookie Cutter Templates Are Over…
Some of you older Millennials might remember that before Facebook took over the web, social media platforms already existed but weren’t as polished as Zuckerberg’s creation.
One of these prehistoric social media sites was MySpace.
What do we all remember about MySpace? It had one complicated and professional feature that allowed users to tweak their own “themes”. And when you think of ‘users’, try and remember that most of them were like me; 16 years old without a formal IT education.
That meant that many of us actually inadvertently learnt how to code HTML just to add our favourite songs and a couple of goth designs to our pages.
Why did we do that?
Because it was our very own page and we wanted to make it special so that everyone knew it was ours.
Now, this trip down memory lane of a 2005 ex scene kid, is to tell you that people tend to enjoy personalised content over standard, out-of-the-box templates used by thousands of businesses.
If a reader is on your website, they probably want to know more about your brand and its identity. They’re looking for your personality, and that is never going to shine on a dull, copy-pasted template.
Develop your own bespoke website and make it special.
If you’re looking for someone to build you a new website from scratch, search for a web developer who knows how to hard code.
Don’t settle for a cheap site they’ve whacked up quickly using a template, and don’t know how to customise.
It may work perfectly initially – even if it lacks originality – but as your business grows you will need to add functionality and update the design and content.
If it’s not being managed by someone with coding skills you are very limited in what you can do. It will hinge entirely on the template theme being used
Hiring a developer who can code original features on your site is a must.
But please, for the love of God, don’t try and program your own website as I did with my MySpace page.
Search Engine Optimisation For Both Content And Performance…
We’ve said it before, we’ll say this again: you can’t do without SEO.
No, you can’t.
SEO serves as an instrument that directs people to your website as soon as they are looking for something that you can offer.
And you need to optimise your content for the most relevant search terms, with the highest volume of traffic. All of it. Whatever you are going to post on your website, be it written content or a video, it must be optimised.
How do you do that?
There are a myriad of things that go into ensuring your site is properly optimised for search. Most people think this is all down to the written content – blog posts, website copy, product descriptions, etc. But this is all front-end content.
The stuff that anyone using the website sees.
There is a massive amount of back-end work that goes on to ensure your site is fully optimised. A fully optimised site is about more than just throwing a few keywords into your copy. You need a site that has been carefully built to meet all the current criteria demanded by the search engine gods.
Currently that means prioritising user experience above pretty much everything else.
It means ensuring your site is as speedy as possible.
It means adding metadata to all of your content so the little bots crawling and reporting back to the search engines know what your content is about.
It means compressing images and videos so they don’t slow your website down. It means seamless integration of all your website’s functionality.
It means super clean and easy navigation.
It means a design that’s easy on the eye and engaging.
It means careful colour selection to ensure a contrast level that meets the Google Gods’ seemingly arbitrary standards of what constitutes ‘easy to read’.
And increasingly it means video, video, video, video… but well optimised video that’s (usually) hosted elsewhere (like YouTube), so it doesn’t slow your site’s speed.
Of course, next week, it might mean something completely different.
What constitutes a ‘well optimised website’ changes on a terrifyingly regular basis.
If you took a site that was perfectly optimised and ranking #1 for hundreds of keywords a few years ago, it likely wouldn’t rank for much of anything on page one (let alone rank #1) today.
You don’t even have to go back very far – the last major algorithm update happened in December 2020.
At the time of writing this, that’s less than a year ago!
Sites that were performing well last summer, that are still performing well this autumn, are only doing so because they have an SEO-savvy developer on their site, keeping them well optimised.
Optimisation takes concerted, consistent effort. Not only when building, but on an ongoing basis as new content is added, new issues arise, and new updates are rolled out by the search gods, who demand you throw out all the ‘rules’ you thought you knew, and learn entirely new ones.
The Perfect Website: How To Do It!
How do you successfully achieve a perfect website? Well, let’s start by saying that any website that is helpful and satisfies your target audience’s needs, while having excellent SEO, is a good one.
Perfection, however, is a whole other thing!
In order to have a spot-on website you should make sure that it reflects your brand identity, that it’s filled with relevant and consistent content and that it comes with all the perks of the aforementioned website development services.
Would you like to take a closer look?
Let us introduce you to one of our best works…
The first thing someone will notice about this website is the richness of colours and designs: it’s filled with custom branding, original content, and it doesn’t look like any other website. It’s unique, quirky, creative and perfectly embodies the cheerful spirit of the obsessive beer lover.
But it’s not just a perfectly designed platform. Above all else, it’s an online shop that’s elegantly organised.
It offers simple payment and versatile shipping options and it’s fast, making sure that customers don’t stress over their orders.
And then, of course, there’s content: being a beer retailer, The Belgian Beer Company’s blog mostly covers everything inside the universe of beer.
Now, we’d never claim this site is perfect.
It’s a work in progress. Like any site.
It changes near-daily as we find even better ways of doing things and upgrade them. As we get feedback from customers and tweak things to better serve the user experience. As we find elements that aren’t working as we want them to and rethink them.
A website should be a constantly evolving entity.
You’re never ‘done’ with your website. We’re sorry, but you’re not.
When TBBC first asked for our help they already had a large database of clients attached to their website: by simply shutting it down and creating a new one, they would have suffered incalculable losses. So we decided to work on the pre-existing structure by improving it and adding the needed features and designs.
Now their newly revamped website is up and running, providing customers with delicious beers on a daily basis.
And we couldn’t be more proud about our work!
Develop And Grow: Start Improving Your Website Today…
As you can see, web development services don’t just stop at coding something and getting it up and ready to go. There are several other factors that need to be taken into consideration, and the best way to have a website that truly embodies your brand while providing the best user experience is to have a team of professionals working together on it.
The perfect website? It takes a digital marketing village to raise one. If you are unsure how to upgrade your own website from one that ‘does the job’ to one that has excellent functionality, smashes your competitions, and makes it simple and easy for customers to find you, pay you, and come back for more, get in touch today for a free personal consultation.
The sooner we start, the sooner you’ll start growing!