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As a small business owner in Australia, chances are you’re not going to pay someone to build your website – you’d rather try to do it yourself and save money, right?

Before you dive in, it’s important to take some critical steps to ensure that your website meets your goals and works in the way that your potential customers want it o.

We’re going to explore four things you should take before rolling out your own website, including focusing on your goals for the website, researching who the right people are to target, planning your content and structure, and choosing the right website builder and tools.

Step 1: Understand what you want to get out of your website

The first step to building a website suitable for an Aussie small business is narrowing down your goals. What do you want your website to achieve? Do you want to increase awareness of your business, generate hot leads, or sell your stuff online? 

Defining your goals will help you stay focused on what’s important on your website and stop you from getting distracted by shiny objects and unimportant details. It’s also going to ensure that your website is designed and developed with some real goals in mind – not just vanity achievements like hearing people say, “Oooooo your website is so pretty!”

To define your website goals, start by considering who you want to look at your website and what they might be looking for from it. For example, if you are a bakery in Camp Hill in Brisbane, your target audience might be looking for a list of what bread you sell, whether you deliver it or even when you are open and closed. And they’re probably going to be locals, so you probably won’t need to have a currency converter on there (remember what I said about the shiny objects?) 

Once you have a clear understanding of your who your website’s viewers are going to be and you’ve got an idea of their needs, you can begin to explore the words, images and videos that you might want to add to your website later on in the process.

Step 2: Who are your visitors going to be?

This step will help you create a website that appeals to your audience and meets their expectations. There are several ways to research your target audience, including surveys, focus groups, and online analytics tools.

To gather information about your target audience, consider conducting surveys or focus groups to gather feedback on their preferences and needs. You can also use online analytics tools to track website visitor behaviour and gather insights on the most popular content and features. By understanding your target audience, you can design and develop a website that resonates with them and meets their needs.

The reality is that you’ll probably do none of that high-level marketing research stuff. What you’re more likely to do is find a business like yours that is doing well and see what they’re doing – then replicate it. Am I right?

There’s nothing wrong with that. If someone’s doing something right, why reinvent the wheel? Over time, though, it’s helpful to review what you’ve been doing to make any adjustments to your website now that real people are using it. And that’s where your analytics and tracking tools will come in handy.

Step 3: Plan Your Website Content and Structure

To ensure that your website is easy to use and provides value to your target audience, it’s important to plan your website’s content ahead of time. You’re putting a lot of time into this site, so you want to be sure that the right stuff is going on it. 

This will include decisions about what pages and sections your website will have, what written and graphic or photo content you’ll include on each page, and how people will move around your website.

  • To plan your website’s structure, start off by creating a sitemap on paper that has all the pages and sections of your website that you reckon you’ll need. 
  • Next, plan out what content will be included on each page, including text, images, and videos. 
  • Finally, think about how your website navigation will work to make sure that your visitors can quickly find the information they need. This is all about menus and links.

By planning your website content and structure before your start building your new online masterpiece, you can create a user-friendly experience that meets your customers’ needs.

Step 4: Picking the Right Website Platform

To build your website, you’ll need to choose the right website platform that matches what you need and your level of website-building ability. 

Many website platforms are available for small businesses in Australia, including website builders, content management systems, and e-commerce platforms.

It’s already starting to sound technical, isn’t it?

When it comes down to it, though, choosing the right website platform is all about:

  • Considering what you need your website to do
  • Working out whether the cost is within your budget
  • Whether you have the ability to use the platform

Website builders, such as Google Sites, Wix and Squarespace, are ideal for beginners with no technical experience, while content management systems, such as WordPress and Joomla, offer a lot more flexibility and customisation that most small businesses will never use or even understand. 

Then there are the E-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and WooCommerce, that are designed specifically for online stores. They’ve got a learning curve, but hosted services like Shopify and BigCommerce make it a little easier for you than installing your own WordPress site and having to add WooCommerce to it.

E-commerce is a whole other topic though – as there’s a deep rabbit hole of extra information involved like dropshipping, shipping rates and automated stuff like cart abandonment mitigation. Eek – that got really technical really quickly!

The Bottom Line when it comes to a DIY website

Building your own website can be a fun, rewarding experience. And it can also be a nightmare of trial and error and wanting to throw your computer out the window. How you go with it will come down to planning.

Before you get started, take some small steps to make sure that the website you’re building meets your goals for the business and appeals to your target customer. 

Make sure you get specific about your goals, research your target audience (even if it’s just what other websites like yours they visit), plan out your website’s content, and choose the right website builder. You can build a website yourself with a little planning and a whole lot of time spent working out where everything goes and how it all works.

Remember, building a website takes time and effort, and it’s important to be patient and resilient with it. Things aren’t always going to go right. But every day gets you closer to the goal. And even if building your own website seems too much, don’t worry – many pros are out there ready to take your money and accelerate the whole process.

Like me! Check out how I work with my clients to deliver business websites quickly and easily.