A beginner’s guide to designing a website for your service business in London.
In recent years, having an online presence has become a necessity rather than a luxury, so it’s no wonder that more and more small service providers are launching their own websites. Establishing a strong digital presence is a great way to reach a wider audience and deliver even better customer service, particularly in London’s highly competitive marketplace.
If you’re a small business owner looking to venture into the world of websites, this article is for you. From structuring your website to setting up online booking systems, it provides step-by-step guidance on launching a successful online platform where you can market and sell your services across London and beyond.
Website wisdom that works
First impressions count. Given your website may be the first time a customer “meets” your business, it’s important you make it a positive interaction. Here are ten top tips for website success that can help you attract new prospects and convert them to happy customers:
- Clearly outline the services you offer: use easy-to-understand language to let potential customers know the benefits of your services.
- Use local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies: attract London-based customers looking for the services you offer by including relevant keywords, location-specific content and keeping your business information consistent across online platforms.
- Invest in professional branding: a well-designed logo and cohesive colour scheme helps create a polished brand image which gives customers confidence in you.
- Showcase client testimonials and case studies: positive reviews from satisfied clients build trust and credibility, encouraging potential customers to choose your business.
- Make your contact details easy to find: it should be simple for potential clients to get in touch with you via phone and email.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly: most people use their smartphone or tablet to search for local services, so make sure your website looks good and works well on all devices, not just desktop computers.
- Use clear, compelling calls to action (CTAs): they guide visitors to the next action you want them to take, whether it’s requesting a quote or scheduling a consultation.
- Showcase your work with photos: if possible put together a portfolio or gallery so potential customers have a visual representation of your services that helps them understand what you offer.
- Design with the user in mind: make it quick and easy for visitors to find the information they need without too many clicks or too much confusion. Using intuitive menu labels and grouping related pages together logically makes your website easy to navigate.
- Put security measures in place: let customers know the steps you take to protect their personal data. This helps build trust and is particularly important if your website collects sensitive information.
Structuring your site for success
Setting up a business website for the first time can feel overwhelming. How many pages should there be? What information do you need to include about your services? How do you create a user-friendly experience? The first step is to clearly define your goals. In other words, what do you want your visitors to do? Whether it’s to contact you, request a quote or make a purchase – make sure you plan your site structure to achieve these goals.
Let’s look at some of the key sections you may want to include on your website:
Use this page to showcase your services and highlight key areas of your website.
Each of your services should have its own page with information about what it involves, its benefits and prices (where relevant). This not only helps potential customers understand what you do, but search engines too.
Do you offer location-specific services? If so, consider creating localised pages for different areas of London (and wherever else you operate) to boost your SEO. This will help attract clients searching for services in a specific neighbourhood.
Humanise your brand by introducing your business, its history and your team. Not only will it strengthen your brand, it will also build trust with potential customers.
Testimonials or case studies
Customer testimonials or case studies are a great way to show your expertise and reassure visitors to your website that they can trust you to do a good job.
Blog or resources
Sharing valuable content related to your industry is not only interesting for visitors but can also help improve your site’s SEO.
Local payment gateway
Ensure the platform you’re using supports local payment gateways popular in the UK, such as PayPal and Stripe.
Customers should be able to access your contact information on every page but it’s also worth adding a dedicated contact page with a contact form, phone number, email address and business address.
While not a page on your website as such, URLs are still a key feature of your website structure. Using SEO-friendly URLs that include relevant keywords will help search engines understand what’s on each page and can improve your ranking in search results.
Cookie compliance and data protection protocols
As a small business owner setting up a website for the first time, you need to be aware of various cookie regulations and data privacy rules. There are two key pieces of regulation which you need to make sure you comply with:
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
This comprehensive data protection regulation sets out strict rules for the processing and protection of personal data. It applies to all businesses operating in the UK – even small service businesses like yours.
Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
There are a number of different features that you need to consider/add to your website to ensure you comply with the GDPR and PECR regulations. These include:
- User rights: let users know their rights to access, correct and delete any data your business holds about them.
- Data security: ensure you encrypt any sensitive information you hold about customers and take necessary measures to prevent unauthorised access.
- Third-party services: make sure any analytics tools, advertising networks or plugins you use on your website comply with data protection regulations.
- Data breach response: if you become aware of a breach, you’re required to report it to users and the relevant authorities within 72 hours. Develop a plan so you know what to do in the event of a breach.
Data protection regulations are always evolving so make sure you keep up to date with any changes and implement any changes to your site as necessary. If in doubt, consult a privacy professional or ask the relevant authorities for advice on making sure you comply with the specific requirements for businesses in your industry.
Setting up an online booking system
Online booking systems can be a game changer for small service businesses. Setting one up can reduce the time you spend on admin while also improving customer convenience. It’s a win-win. Here’s a general overview of how to go about setting up an online booking system for your company:
- Define your requirements
Getting clear on the services you offer, appointment duration, and any specific requirements will help you choose the right online booking solution.
- Create an account on your online booking platform of choice
Choose one that suits your business needs and is compatible with your website host. Hosts like Ionos and GoDaddy, for example, make it easy to add an online booking system to your website with a number of different ways to integrate third-party tools like Square Appointments, Acuity Scheduling, Calendly and SimplyBook.me.
- Configure your services
Add the names, descriptions, durations and prices of your services.
- Customise booking settings
Make sure all the settings (e.g. working hours, availability and cancellation policies) are correct for your business. Specify any breaks or days off so that customers can only book appointments during your opening times.
- Embed the booking widget on your website
Add this to a dedicated ‘book now’ page or directly to your service pages so that it’s quick and easy for customers to schedule an appointment with you.
- Set up notifications
Make sure you get alerts for new bookings and customers get confirmation emails or SMS messages with relevant details.
- Integrate with your calendar
Most platforms allow you to sync your online booking system with popular calendars like Google Calendar or Outlook so you can keep organised and avoid overbooking.
- Test the booking process
Before going live, pretend you’re a customer and test the entire booking process from start to finish. Check the platform displays the correct slots, accepts your booking and sends confirmation texts/emails.
- Promote your online booking system
Let your customers know about your new, convenient booking system. Some hosting providers like Ionos and GoDaddy even have marketing features you can use to help boost visibility.
While there are a whole host of things to consider when designing your company’s first website – from complying with privacy regulations and ensuring a user-friendly interface to optimising for SEO and adding online booking systems – you are likely to start seeing the benefits relatively quickly. Building a robust online presence is an effective way to attract new customers and enhance the service you provide, which is especially important in a competitive market like London.
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