Designing your website: the basic rules

It is vital to have an online platform presenting the SME’s services and products. Here are some tips for creating a successful website. 

A large number of sales in the physical world are influenced by the internet. But some SMEs do not have a website, which is a serious mistake. Web users browse search engines day and night to find products and services. Companies not on the internet risk leaving the way clear for their competitors.

Choosing your domain name

A company must appear under a single identity on the internet, whether on its official website or on social networks. A combination of names may well lose potential customers. The SME needs to quickly find out whether the name it wants to use online has already been acquired by another company. Websites like www.switch.ch, www.name.com or www.godaddy.com help companies find out which domain names are still available. It is better to favor suffixes such as “.com” or “.ch”, which are more commonly visited than “.org” or “.net” domains.

If the required website has already been acquired by someone else, it is often possible to buy it. This process can be lengthy and costly. Adoption of an alternative name, referring to the company's values and/or services, can prove effective. For example, Suisse Tourisme has opted for the original name www.myswitzerland.com.

Creating a website

If the company's goal is to create a simple website, it is possible to ask an employee with basic IT knowledge to do this. Development platforms such as WordPress, Weebly, Yola, Wix or Aboutme are inexpensive and effective solutions which are easy to use. If the company wants to produce a complex, dynamic website, using the services of a professional is recommended.

The key criteria for a good site

A quality website must:

  • Present the services and/or products supplied by the company.
  • Give the opening hours, phone number, postal address and email address of the company.
  • Convince the customer of the quality of the services and/or products supplied by the company.
  • Use effective keywords to describe the website, which positions it high up in search engine results.

A guide to help SMEs create their website has been produced jointly by the Federal Office for Communication (OFCOM), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the association InfoSurance:

Checkliste Online-Auftritt KMU (2019) (only in German) (PDF, 658 kB, 07.02.2019)Staatssekretariat für Wirtschaft (SECO) und Bundesamt für Kommunikation (BAKOM)

For optimization of referencing on search engines, see also:

Mobile websites for smartphones and tablets

Web users are spending more time browsing the internet using their smartphones and tablets than from their computers, according to a study carried out in the United States in 2013 by Jumptap and comScore. But only a small number of companies have a mobile version of their website. Companies are strongly advised to have a website adapted to mobile phones and tablets, because traditional websites take much longer to load on a phone.  Navigation on a phone is also too complex for a screen that fits in the palm of your hand. It is also proven that mobile users often stop browsing websites that are not adapted to their smartphone. A successful mobile website must be:

  • Ergonomic and quick to download onto a phone.
  • Simple ­– the information must be presented clearly.
  • Concise – only essential information about the company should be included.

E-commerce

The next step is to adapt your website so that it can sell products online. Producing such a platform is technically complicated, because a lot of elements need to be included. Using the services of a professional is recommended. On an e-commerce website, a customer must be able to:

  • Learn about the products;
  • Place an order;
  • Make a secure payment;
  • Provide personal details to allow delivery.

For more information about e-commerce, see:

Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.


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Checkliste Online-Auftritt KMU (2019) (only in German) (PDF, 658 kB, 07.02.2019)Staatssekretariat für Wirtschaft (SECO) und Bundesamt für Kommunikation (BAKOM)

Last modification 28.08.2018

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