Marketing firms get asked a lot of questions that don’t relate to what they do. While your focus may center on content, branding and advertising, it’s not uncommon for a client to ask for a new website. While you may want to say, “We don’t do that — go find a web design firm,” proceed with caution. Even if web design isn’t your forte, it is something you should be willing to take on to keep your clients satisfied.
The truth about business websites
Unless a company’s website is the primary sales channel — i.e. direct-to-consumer ecommerce — businesses don’t need to overthink things. The website is merely another extension of the business — not the business itself.
And while a business can go out and pay $3,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 for a professional to design a simple website, this is often wasted money. There’s only so much a designer can do for a basic website, and the tools exist for anyone to closely replicate their work. (Note: This is not a knock on professional web designers. They have their place. But the average startup can enjoy the same results without overpaying someone.)
You should advise clients to avoid hiring a professional web design firm because they are still in the beginning stages. They can make such better use of their money. For example, it could go towards advertising, branding, product development, content marketing, or dozens of other things.
In essence, you should encourage your clients to let you handle the web design aspect of their launch, in addition to the other marketing and advertising efforts. Not only is this good advice for fledgling startups, but it also creates an extra revenue stream for your business.
Here’s what you need to know
But I don’t really know what to do!
Have no fear… we’re about to give you a crash course in how to build sleek, professional websites for your clients. You’ll need to do a little more research in the future, but the following tips will get you started:
1. Choose the right domain and host
It all starts with the domain name and host. These are the very first things you have to consider and then you can move into web design and execution.
There are more choices than ever, as far as domain names go. While businesses were once limited to .com extensions, dozens of others have recently opened up. These include things like .club, .design, .US, .info, .biz and more. While there’s nothing wrong with choosing unique extensions, it’s best to stick with .com. If your client’s company name is already taken, try mixing things up. Instead of MyCompany.com, try MyCompanyOnline.com or GetMyCompany.com.
Once you have a domain name, your client will need a company to host their site. Finding a host is as simple as researching the options and choosing one that’s cost-effective and reliable. You can compare some different hosting services with this resource.
2. Leverage a powerful website builder
You obviously won’t be building and designing a website from scratch, so you’re going to need a website builder. Once again, there are plenty of companies to choose from.
While you can’t go wrong with any of them, we suggest that beginners try eHost. Not only can you couple it with hosting — as more than a million websites already do — but it has a nice drag and drop builder that’s perfect for beginners.
“A drag and drop website builder is all well and good, but the quality and design of the templates needs to stand up to the challenge,” Michael Benninger of Top 10 Best Website Builders notes. “eHost offers literally thousands of templates, all able to be customized at the click of your mouse.”
Other good options include Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
3. Aim for simplicity and minimalism
When it comes to choosing a template and actually starting the design phase, aim for simplicity. Minimalism is the hottest trend in web design and you want to ensure your clients have a site that’s easy to use. This means relying on negative space and cutting out superfluous elements.
“Negative space serves to manipulate the user’s visual flow,” Jerry Cao of The Next Web explains. “Additionally, negative space allows for more comprehensive organization of elements, preventing the design from overwhelming the user.”
4. Invest in quality content
As much as good design and layout matters, a website can't be effective without some quality content. Thankfully, this is probably one of your strong suites. Work with your client to ensure you include the right website copy.
Then, turn your attention towards some onsite content marketing. Building up a solid foundation of niche content is a great way to keep visitors on site, as well as attract valuable backlinks.
5. Make SEO a major priority
Finally, SEO begins to enter the picture. Spend a lot of time tweaking the site so that it satisfies all the latest “white hat” techniques, and really dig deep into some long tail keywords. Specifically, you need to pay attention to site structure and how it relates to SEO.
“As I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I’ve been surprised at how often site structure is overlooked,” expert Neil Patel says. “On the one hand, it’s one of the most crucial aspects of a site’s SEO performance, but on the other hand, few webmasters and owners understand what it means to have a site structure that enhances SEO.”
Make sure you aren’t overlooking site structure. Good structure leads to better crawling in the search engine, which boosts your search engine results pages (SERPs) and dramatically increases your chances of getting referral traffic.
Add value to your company
While there’s a time and place for hiring skilled web designers, the technology and solutions that exist in today’s market don’t always deem it necessary. By learning how to design basic business websites for clients, you can save them money and add value to your bottom line.
This makes web design a mutually beneficial endeavor that every marketing firm should boldly undertake.
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