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This article has been written by Kath Hewitt who runs the vintage inspired online fabric store Sew La La Fabrics.  Kath designed and built her own website, learning a lot along the way!

 

Time For Your Own Website?

 

A Reality Check!

The world of websites was a mystery to me when I decided to launch my own online fabric shop. I naively thought I just needed to buy a domain name, build a website from templates, click the publish button and that would be it, an instant business.

The reality is very different. Yes, you can buy a domain & build a website from templates then publish but Google may well not even list your site for 6 to 9 months. When your site becomes listed you can then be in search oblivion for the rest of your website days meaning no visitors’, no customers and no business.

Did you know that at least 80% of the population use Google as their search engine and at least 80% of people don’t look past page 1 of the search results?

Getting to page 1 for a result with plenty of searches is a science and can be a full time job, if you do make it to page one you will need to work equally as hard to stay there.

You also have 3 clicks (the first click being onto your search result) and around 3 seconds to engage the visitor to your site before they click back out.

In understanding this and thinking of how you search and shop online you will gain valuable insight into the reality of having a business online.

 

Still Want Your Own Website?

First you need to work out what you need your website to do, this could be many things but most likely you will want one of the following three:

  •  A basic site to achieve a web presence giving information about your business.
  •  A small online shop selling just a few items with some additional information pages.
  •  A fully functioning e commerce shop where you sell with stock control, full postage control, the ability to offer discounts and more.


You will also need to consider the visual aspects of your site; when doing this it is important to consider the following:

How would you like your site to look?

Who is your audience?

What age group and gender are your audience?

What would your audience be looking for from your website?

 Sew La La website

The Sew La La Website

What Next?

You will need to buy your domain name

For your website to be online you’ll need web hosting, research very carefully which host you use as moving an established site away from a host can be a real headache.

Will you be able to build a site yourself either by using templates, learning web design and coding, using an e commerce provider or will you need to employ a web designer? The decision you take here could make or break your business so ensure you carry out a lot of research.

 

The Letter Of The Law

When you have a website there are several legal obligations you have a duty to uphold. Sadly many website owners don’t take the time to find out what these obligations are so don’t comply.

To comply you should include:

  1. Full contact details including your name, your business name, your business address, e mail address and preferably a phone number.
  2. You must understand the Data Protection Act, include your policies with regard to the Data Protection Act in your Privacy Policy and be willing adhere to these policies.
  3. Learn the laws on Cookies, have a cookie policy and be willing to update it.
  4. Understand The Distant Selling Act and your obligations within this then include these in your Returns Policy, FAQ’S or Terms and Conditions.

 

Cookie policy on the Sew La La website
 Sew La La pages and cookies policy

 

I strongly advise the following:

Have a good about page - people like to know who they are dealing with.

List some FAQ’S

Put your contact details in an easy to find location

Provide clear details about your Returns Policy

Give details about Postage & Packaging and shipping times

Use Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter and have links from your site to these

Learn about SEO ~ Search Engine Optimiastion

Keep your copyright up to date, update it to the current year every year on 1st January

Be accountable and fair to your customers at all times

Consider the disability act when planning a site, ideally your minimum font size should be 13px and you should prepare your images so that they can be read by a screen reader to help partially sighted visitors.


Other Considerations

Will you be able to create your own logo and art work for your site?

Can you manage your own product photography?

Will you have time to update and maintain your site?


The above should be enough to get you thinking about whether you want a site and what you need to consider when planning your site.  Kath has written a follow you to help you decide what type of site you want here.