Thinking about launching your website?
Before you proceed, take a look at this article and do a bit of research before you take that journey. That research may include reviewing platforms or business portals. But in case your interest, I have over 20 years of IT experience and more than few website design projects under my belt and recommend reading this article first.
Let's get right into it.
Launching a website can be a daunting process and even more so as technology and markets are changing and evolving daily. Websites when done right are a great opportunity for small business owners, and with the post-pandemic era still having an impact, it's a great opportunity to take advantage of the millions of people around the world who are forced to use the internet more, whether it's for work, or leisure. Since you have come this far, let’s take a moment to consider this quick business advice.
1. Always seek professional advice.When it comes to your business, making sure you put your best foot forward in the beginning will be crucial to its longevity. Seeking a professional can save you from making costly mistakes in starting a business website. After having owned and operated a business for over 10 years, the best opportunities have come from listening to the advice and suggestions of experienced professionals. These individuals will have already gone through what works and doesn’t and can save you from having to make the same mistake with your business. A wise person once said, “Learn from other people's mistakes so you don’t have to make them”. From one professional to another.
2. Develop operational cash flow.
The internet offers a great deal of videos and articles on starting out on a shoestring budget for little or no money, but many of these authors are directing you to a slow rolling sales pitch game. Articles and videos that are genuine will do a great job of explaining that the strategy given, is just one of many available to you and that you should weigh your options according to how fast or how slow you wish to expand or grow. Shoestring budgets or free to start type approaches are meant to be temporary. Why? Because the business should start to develop some operational cash flow based on the approach. You must have a handle on how the business will make money and sustain itself or else you are setting the business up to fail within the first year.
3. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate.
Seek out your tribe! There are many businesses and inidividuals that run websites successfully who are be just getting started. Find these people within your industry and network, network, network. Write a blog article for a peer, or offer help to others and always consider the value being created for them before yourself. Having a group of your peers in your chosen market is invaluable as there is a great chance to network and learn new information as well as share and bounce ideas off of one another.
The Website Pre-Launch Checklist
Brand Message (a.k.a. Branding)
The message a website communicates directly affects results. When your message isn’t clear, your potential customers won’t be clear about what you are offering or selling. This can be to your companies detriment because a customer that is unsure is one that won’t buy. Without a clear message stagnation is certain. Research, read, research, and read some more before deciding on a path to follow.
Keeping it simple will always be how I lead with advice and suggestions. Make sure that you state your companies mission and values as well as what you are offering. Then, make sure that what customers receive is exactly what they were offered. Lastly, create a style that speaks to your brand and what you are offering and one that adequately articulates your mission, caters to the customer experience and sets proper expectations. Package it up and sell, sell, sell!
Storage needs will vary depending on the type of business but always consider how to source images, written content and your creative process. A huge pain point when reviewing websites is the disconnect between the photos and the product/service offered on the site. Every aspect of creating content comes with challenges and time restraints.
Every business is different, so concentrate on your goals when executing business tasks. All website related tasks should be implemented in cycles, especially content creation. Figure out if the media needs to change monthly or quarterly and stick to it. How you source content depends on the industry, but I always suggest paying for professional work because you can not substitute quality. Lastly, keep it simple and maintain some consistency and the response will match.
Learning the basics of how analytics work will ensure the message is on target, which will create good habits. Knowing when visitors viewed your website, clicked on a link, or where visitors are coming from will tell a story of how your business receives attention. We'll talk about this later on, but for now, recognize the importance of learning data analytics as it relates to your website.
The data collected from your website and even social media accounts are the first steps to finding out if the website works as intended. Connect the data with your marketing efforts and watch closely as the results shift.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Commit to 1 or 2 strategies that will increase the chances of people finding the website during regular internet searches. SEO is one of those topics that is addressed in articles written on shoestring budgets. I also enjoy sharing free tips that businesses can implement to achieve better search results.
Here are a few terms/phrases you can start with to better understand SEO:
There are many steps to consider in order to improve SEO but remember, 1 or 2 tasks to start with makes a big difference.
Identify a set of action steps that will drive customers toward the website and garner repeat customers. It may sound simple, but isn’t that the goal? Of course, it's not that simple, but if you feel like the website is ready, then invite some people to take a look and see how they respond it. Marketing can take weeks to plan and months to implement. Then, the results are something else to talk about later, but right in line with everything else; please, keep it simple.
Wrap everything together with a comprehensive layout and flow where users gain value, then take action. Once you have addressed the previous topics, then apply it to the website design and layout. This ensures that the story conveyed by your business is consistent and appealing. Your target audience will reward you for creating value for them in the form of online sales and promotion.