One of the most important actions a new business can perform is creating it's very first website. After careful deliberation for days, building your perfect brand and its identity, you're ready to bring in visitors!
Before you embark on the wonderful world that is web development, it's important to lay down a few foundations to set your brand up for a successful digital presence.
Understanding your brand’s marketing goals along with it’s KPIs(link) will help plot a course for the actions you’ll take in making a marketable, engaging website possible.
Let’s say you run a new beauty boutique shop in the local Chicago area and you’re looking for ways to generate new leads, manage appointments, and connect with a wide range of clientele.
In the example above, the beauty brand’s main service offering is providing makeup, beauty, & hair care services primarily for women.
Depending on how niche your market is, you’ll have to tailor your public messaging to match the pain points your customer has and provide a solution to them that no one else has.
A well thought out website answers the 5 W's clearly, and effectively.
If you can answer those questions in about a paragraph or less that is usually the sweet spot. Remember, your mission, vision, and business pitch should be simple, convey powerful language that appeals to the pain point of your audience.
It sounds weird to have website “goals” but just like any other endeavor, websites are a living representation of your presence online. Many businesses think they can just create one website and leave it as is and hope that traffic will magically appear and drive new business. Unfortunately that’s not how organic traffic gets generated on websites. Just like any other marketing channel, it takes persistence and constant improvement/adjustments to keep the momentum going. How might I craft my website goals you wonder? Here’s a few pointers to get started.
First, work backwards from the company’s sales, and marketing objectives.
Is the website’s goal to capture new leads, increase traffic/conversions, provide information, perform pre-sales for product, showcase work or maybe all of the above?
What are some tangible traffic numbers you expect your website to generate? Some important website metrics to keep track of are
Over time, how will my website evolve to meet my marketing strategy?
Second, determine how the marketing team will track those metrics. Google Analytics is great for this, but other website building tools may have their own metrics dashboard your business can use for tracking engagement. This gives you direct feedback from the digital marketing results.
Finally, craft your website objectives and requirements to your target audience.
Now that you have a basic marketing message, plan, and way to track progress, it's now time for usually my favorite part, which is building the damn thing! Depending on the type of website you want to build, you should choose a layout / type that works best for your business
What the heck am I building anyway?
There are a number of popular website types you can choose from:
It’s critical for your website to support your business needs. For example, if you are running an e-commerce shop, you need a way to manage customers and the products you publish on the web. That’s where services like Shopify and BigCommerce come handy, they allow you to build storefronts quickly by providing a content/product management system plus website.
Content Content CONTENT!
Content plays an important role in engaging your audience.
Here’s a great rule of thumb: If your website doesn’t WOW or capture the attention of the reader within the first 4 seconds, then you will lose that website visitor (source https://www.makerobos.com/topic/ask-an-expert/15-seconds-rule-to-engage-website-visitors)
Content is a major problem for new businesses because they either lack the content marketing skills / resources, don’t commit the time to content, or otherwise. It is also difficult to create content when the business plan / venture is still very new and hasn’t fully formed all of its service offerings yet.
So how can I start generating content for my business?
Content should do either 1 of 5 things:
1. Entertain, 2. Inform, 3. Inspire, 4. Engage, 5. Entice
Great Content Does All 5 of these in some form!
Content usually consists of:
Create a central content theme:
If your goal is to provide every woman in Chicago with the best in beauty services then build your content around that audience and talk about things in context they might actually listen too.
Create a content schedule:
It takes hard steady work to keep up with content every week, coming up with new topics/ content to engage but totally worth it! Content creation is a long-term investment with enormous ROI.
Keep Up With It!
Don’t let your eye off the ball, if it gets too much, try outsourcing the workload! Content doesn’t always have to exist in your mind, other people’s input is valuable in making the entire content machine work as intended.
You finally have your goals, great marketing content, & a sound strategy for your digital presence; now it's time to build it! In 2021, there are endless ways for you to create your first website, web application, or mobile app, but choosing the right solution for the right business is often the challenge.
To determine the best route consider Time, Cost and Quality. Unfortunately, you can only have 2 of the 3 when it comes to building most projects, each combination often comes with a tradeoff.
Depending on where you fall on this range, that will determine the best course of action in how you should get the site completed.
You have a couple of options when it comes to building websites.
Getting a domain is the first step in building your first website! The rule of thumb is to get a short and sweet .com domain for your business. Here are a few domain providers to start you off with.
Chances are, your perfect and ideal domain name is probably already taken so here are a few tips to get a good domain name.
After purchasing your domain, you can now link your domain to the hosting platform of your choice.
Choosing a place for your domain and website to live is critical to the long-term success of your web project. Depending on your needs, your hosting provider can differ from just “hand-off management”, to full suite hosting solutions such as AWS. Hosting providers give you the infrastructure necessary to deliver web experiences and direct traffic to your website.
Hosting with another provider often provides you an out of the box solution to your web hosting needs. Hosting it yourself requires some extended knowledge to get started. Each hosting platform has different pricing and features so be sure to do your due diligence first to find the right one.
After setting up your account with one of these providers, you must connect your domain registrar with your host provider. Your host will likely provide detailed instructions on how to connect the two. It's usually just as simple as copy and pasting your nameserver DNS to the hosting providers dashboard, and clicking apply.
Now all that’s left is to build the website out! Depending on the type of website you are building, we want to craft something special to your target audience.
This is a great stage for brainstorming the design of the website, its layout, what the content should present, and the visual component
Common Website Layout Components to consider.
At this stage we develop the site! If you are building the site yourself, via website builder:
For others that employ professional web development for their business:
Testing is almost just as critical as building the site itself. Not everyone's experience is going to be the same when you first enter a website. We are all on different devices, browsers, and settings so the potential for error is almost endless! So how do we manage this? There’s the old fashioned way of testing websites by trying out a bunch of different browsers on computers, and that's great for starters. However, Cross-browser testing is all the rage these days with web developers. If you are looking for more advanced solutions to testing, here are a few options if customer experience is a high priority for you.
Lastly, have someone review your work! It can be a coworker, close friend, family member, or otherwise. You want them to catch any bugs, issues, wording misspellings, & if it actually makes sense content wise. Feedback during this stage will provide insight into where you are, versus where you want to be.
Now that you’ve tested everything, you’re just about ready to launch! Make sure you cover this quick launch checklist.
Now that you have launched, you are well on your way to building a better brand! Here are a few best practices for running your website.
If you’ve followed these steps, you’re ready to go live with your site. Now the real fun is just beginning. In Part II of this blog, I will go over how to market your website, drive traffic, A/B testing methods I’ve personally used before, and what you can do to get your business recognized on Google.
Need technical consultation for something more specific? We would love to hear from you. Shoot us an email: email@example.com
Stay tuned for Part II in a few days. Happy building!