Building a business website has become one of the most important parts of running a business. These days if you’re not online, you don’t even exist. But it’s not just about having a website, it’s about building the right one. When we, at ForwardLine set out to rebuild and rebrand our website, the first step we took was establishing a clear goal. That goal was to design a website that would visually reinforce our commitment to improving the financial health of America’s small businesses.
How did we do it, and how can you do the same for your business? If rebuilding and rebranding your website is on your to-do list for the upcoming year, you’ll want to take these four steps.
1. Establish a Clear Goal
Ask yourself a few questions: What are you offering? Who are you offering it to? And why are you offering it? Once we answered these questions for ourselves, we were able to clearly state our goal and successfully follow the next three steps.
2. Build Your Voice
One of the most important things in branding (or rebranding) is finding the right voice for your company. The way you communicate with your customers sets the tone for how they see you. So why not create a strategy for it and incorporate that into your website and brand? When we sought to find our voice, we didn’t ask just ourselves what we thought our voice should be. We also asked our customers. We conducted a survey through SurveyMonkey in which we asked our customers what they were looking for in a financial company and how they would like to be communicated with. In that survey, we found that most small-business owners like to be communicated with in a friendly fashion, unlike the usual suit-and-tie approach of other financial institutions. And that’s where one of our mottos came from: “A friendlier kind of financing.”
So if you haven’t found your voice yet or would like to change it, start by conducting a survey to find out more about your customers. That way you can speak with them in a way they will relate to and appreciate.
3. Create an Identity
Imagine that your website is your wardrobe. The way you dress for the day says a lot about you, and the way you dress your website says a lot about your business. Take some time to really think about the imagery and graphics for your website. Do they portray your business in the best ways? How about the colors—do they relate to your brand? Deciding on all of this can be very time-consuming, but it’s worth it. When we were deciding on the type of identity we wanted to present through our imagery, graphics, and colors, it took us several rounds. But once we got everything figured out, our website was exactly what we wanted.
If you have the budget, you could also hire some help through a website like Upwork, 99designs, or Freelancer. So don’t get discouraged if you find yourself hitting a few walls—you can turn to a professional for advice or assistance. Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, you’ll eventually get it. And once you do, the effort will all have been worth it, because your website will set you apart from your competition and make a world of difference to your customers.
4. Test. Test. Test.
Many businesses neglect to test their websites. We’re not talking about testing simply to make sure the website loads properly and that it looks right. You want to take your testing a step further: Run test ads on one of your pages to gather feedback to ensure that the goal you hope to achieve is being met.
Start with just your homepage. Once you have that done, run a test on it using a site like UserTesting.com or UsabilityHub.com. The tools offered by these sites will help you determine if you should make any changes to your website before committing to something that may not work.
As a company that is committed to the success of small businesses, we encourage you and other small-business owners to take a deep dive into what goals you want to achieve with your website. Take the steps outlined above to create a website and brand that will help you gain not just one-time customers, but repeat customers.
Check out our press release for more information about our website rebrand and relaunch.