Best Practices for Building your Website
Want to build a website for your food business but do not know where to start? Are you afraid you don’t have the skills to build a website yourself? Well you have come to the right place! This article will provide beginner-friendly best practices on how to begin your website building journey for your food business. We will go over what you will need to build your website and the elements that should be included in your website. Then we will discuss goals and reminders to keep in mind when you decide that building a website is something you would like to pursue for your food business.
What is a website, and why will a website help in building a successful food business?
In simple terms, a website is an online platform made up of web pages and made available online by an individual, institution, or organization. As the digital world continues to grow as a valuable space for businesses to promote and legitimize their brand, a great way to further your food business is by building a website. Utilizing different social media platforms and running a website will help add value and exposure to your food business. A website, specifically, has the ability to serve as a comprehensive resource for your audience to get to know your business on a personal level and provide additional benefits such as easy access to information and purchase of products. Most importantly, your website will ultimately serve as a means to boost sales and accelerate growth of your business.
Don’t worry! You may start to get overwhelmed at this point, but here is where we will break down the steps for you.
You do not have to be an expert to build and design your own website. This is a learning experience, and we will help you create a check-list of the things you will need to build your very own website for your food business.
What do I need to build a website?
What is the goal for your website?
Having a clear set of goals will allow you to set milestones. It will also give you a better idea of how you may want to layout your website and the specific content you may want to add in the future. You may change directions with your website or have new ideas, but it is good to start with some basic ideas.
Choose a user-friendly content management system (CMS):
This is the space you will be building and adding content to your website. Explore the different options and identify which plans and features, such as e-commerce, will best suit your needs. Setting Up Your Business on Shopify is an article published by Union Kitchen that goes into detail about how to sign up and choose the right plan for your food business. Wix and Wordpress are two other established website builders that you may want to explore, but they are not specifically for e-commerce businesses.
A domain name, also referred to as just ‘domain’, is the name of a website (Google Domains). Content management systems often provide services for you to create a domain name as a part of the website building process. Your domain name should allow consumers to easily recognize your food business. Ideally, your domain will be your business name .com.
This is the service that connects your site to the Internet and maintains stable and secure storage space for your website. Many content management systems, such as Squarespace and Wordpress, will often guide you in determining which hosting service will work best for your website. Some will even have web hosts integrated into their plans, so it’ll be important to explore your options to see what may work best for your budget, workflow, and timeline.
Adding ecommerce platforms to your website will allow you to digitally sell your products to consumers. If you are able to fulfill online orders, this feature is essential for your products to be accessible to a wider audience and help you increase your revenue and business’s potential. Here are some Content Management System Plans that will help you build an ecommerce website:
- Shopify Plus
- Business Squarespace
Union Kitchen recommends Shopify because of its simple and user-friendly experience, especially for those who are new to website building. Shopify is also set up to make website customization easy for website builders. It allows you to easily add products and gives you the creative freedom to make a website that best reflects your business. Lastly, the affordability of Shopify makes it that much more attractive compared to its competitors.
What should I add to my website?
Once you have chosen the right plan for you and your food business, it is now time to customize your website. The important elements you will need to add to your website are:
- Home page
- The home page should immediately and visually show consumers what your business entails:
- Photos or Videos
- Footer (which should include contact information, links, and social media integration)
- About you
- Providing insight about your passion, mission, and core values will provide consumers with context of how your business came about. Some consumers may even resonate with your story!
- Providing product and ingredient descriptions will allow consumers to know exactly what they are buying and reduce lingering questions they may have before deciding to purchase your products
- Photos of both the packaging and the product itself will further help consumers know what they are buying, and can even help them easily identify your products if they are also in-store!
- Shop page
- This page will actually allow consumers to put items into their virtual carts and pay online
Your website should allow returning and new visitors to easily identify things such as what your food business is, your mission, the products that are being sold. Having an over-complicated website that is difficult to navigate will discourage your audience from using your food business website.
How do I know my website is meeting certain goals? What type of goals should I be setting?
Webmaster tools such as Google Analytics will allow you to track your website’s performance, including number of visitors, length of sessions, and referral source, among other metrics. Visually seeing the data and numbers will help guide you to understand what your website is doing well and what you may need to improve on. In order to use Google Analytics, you will need to set up an account.
Ask for input! Have friends, family, and customers test out your website. These are the people who will be buying your products, so making your website user-friendly will further improve your website.
What do you like about the website?
What do you wish was different about the website?
Are there any questions you have that you were not able to find the answer to on the website? Are there any features that work well or do not work well?
Examples of Food Business Websites
Let us take a look at some examples of Union Kitchen Accelerator members that have websites of their own and what they did well.
The content on Berg Bite’s homepage immediately displays some of their products and the flavor profile of each product. They also allow customers to immediately add the products to their cart, by providing a ‘shop now’ button under each product.
The navigation at the bottom of Snacklins’ website allows you access the information you need without having to scroll aimlessly to find what you are looking for. The breakdown of information is especially convenient for new audiences who are not familiar with the brand.
Start off simple and have a clear, organized process. Identify what you need. Once you have the fundamental pieces to your website, you can begin to customize and get creative with your website.
Trial and error is a part of the process in building a successful website. Do not be afraid to try things out and ask others for their input on your website. It is better to know that some things do not work earlier on in the process.
And remember that you do not have to be an expert to start your own website. Beyond this best practices article, there are other great tutorials, videos, and articles readily available on the Internet to help you navigate your journey in building a successful website.
Although we have explored the different elements you will need to build your own website for your business, we understand that the process can feel a bit overwhelming! We hope this user and beginner friendly guide will help you take things one step at a time and remind you that people from all backgrounds and expertise have the capability to kickstart their own website. As you gain experience through this journey and eventually launch your own website, you will see how valuable a website is for your CPG food business!