What You Need to Know About Starting a Website

If you are like most people, you have dreamed of quitting the rat race and starting your own business. The thing is, a lot of successful business owners have started their companies on the side with nothing more than a website, myself included. Remember that the best time to plant a tree is today. Here, we have compiled a checklist of what the basic things you need to start a new website.

Unique Domain Name

Your domain name should be easy to remember, short, brandable and catchy. Most importantly, your domain name should match your company name like YourCompanyName.com and always try to select the .com extension if possible because the weird domain extension craze has not really gone mainstream yet so fewer people will find you if you use a different domain extension. Don’t try to smart by spelling it differently because you will just lose traffic that way. When we were in Vancouver, we worked with 6S Marketing and I had always assumed that their website was SuccessMarketing.com when it really was 6SMarketing.com.

Web Strategy

A web strategy is a long-term website plan outlining how to build your company’s online presence following your business development strategy. A great starting point is to know some of the questions you would like the strategy to answer like:

Who are your website stakeholders? Essentially, who is running the show, who is involved at each step and who makes the final decisions? There also needs to be one project manager to compile and relay everyone’s feedback back to your web design and development team.

What are the demographics of your target market and what appeals to them? What will attract more of them to your website and how will you persuade them to buy?

Describe your business and what this website will do for you. What are your website goals and how does this project fulfill them? What will bring you traffic and conversions?

What is your content strategy and do you have a rough draft of your content? It is crucial to involve all your website stakeholders in the writing process to get a more in-depth final product.

What kinds of functionality or features do you need? Some common functionality requirements include ecommerce, email marketing subscription, animated homepage banners, advanced search and showcase galleries.

Which websites do you like in terms of their design, functionality, and/or user experience? If you don’t know where to start, check out your competition’s websites. The best way to create a successful website is to take inspiration from what already works.

Web Design & Development

Sure you can probably customize a generic pre-made website for $60 but it will pale in comparison to a professional WordPress website built from scratch for your target market. A website designed from the ground up will be unique, load faster and rank better than any pre-made theme. Hire an experienced web designer based on his/her portfolio because your website will probably turn out to be something similar. With mobile traffic having exceeded traditional laptop and desktop users and Google preferentially ranking mobile-friendly websites, be sure that you are getting a website is responsive.

Beta Testing

Even though you have hired a professional design and development team, you still have to do your own beta testing and due diligence on different browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Also be sure to review your website on tablets and smartphones like iPhone and Android. This is especially important if you are building an eCommerce website as everything has to be functionally seamless for customers to complete their purchases online.

Web Hosting

Web hosting is where your website is stored so that it can be accessible on the Internet. There is no need to secure web hosting until you are ready to launch. Your web hosting requirements will depend on your website so it is best to consult with your web developer. Shared hosting should get you started if you just have an informational website. Although there are millions of web hosting companies out there, for affordable reliable WordPress hosting, we recommend BlueHost.

Monitoring your Traffic

Chances are if your website is successful, you will continue to build onto it over time. The best way to do that is to use Google Analytics which is a free web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic so that you can better optimize your website. Implementing Google Analytics is very quick so your web developer should not be charging you extra for this.

Getting your Website Noticed

The common misconception is that “if you build it, they will come”. With close to one billion websites out there, you will have to do a lot of marketing to attract qualified traffic and build your customer base. Here are some proven ways to market your website:

Search Engine OptimizationSEO is the process of improving your website’s organic ranking for specific keywords. The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google because according to Search Engine Journal, 75% of users never click past the first page of search results. Effective SEO techniques include creating unique and sharable content with weekly blog posts and building reputable backlinks which indicates the popularity of your website. SEO is a long-term process and is best left to a professional. If you have not written your content with SEO in mind, it may take months to see results depending on the competition in your industry.

Email Marketing – Email marketing nurtures leads because most people need to be engaged multiple times before they buy. Give prospects compelling reasons to subscribe like contests, discounts, and fresh, interesting content on a regular basis. According to Convince & Convert, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

Social Media – Similar to email marketing, social media helps you connect with your potential customers and convince them to buy. Again, you should provide compelling reasons to “like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, but you should also share content that gets them regularly visiting your website reminding them why they subscribed to your updates in the first place.

Pay-per-Click – Just as the name suggests, pay-per-click ads like Google Adwords charge you a specific price for each visitor that clicks on your ad. In highly saturated and competitive industries like mortgage, loans, and insurance, keywords can get very expensive so we still think that SEO is your best bet.

YouTube – Short professional videos can really engage your website traffic and increase trustworthiness. Videos uploaded to YouTube are indexed by Google which can improve your website rankings. Learn more about how to create your own promo video.

Press Releases – Having a reputable news source backlink to your website will increase your credibility which will drive more traffic and generate more awareness towards your products or services.

Retargeting – Retargeting ads work by placing tracking cookies so that when they leave your website, they see ads to return.

Web Maintenance

Hopefully, through your website project, you have built a solid relationship with a creative agency who understands your brand and target market. If your website is successful, you will need a reliable web developer to maintain your website. Even though WordPress websites are editable, we often fix websites where clients have broken code because they tried to do everything themselves.

In Conclusion

Obviously, the above guide is not exhaustive. It is a distillation of some of the essential steps to getting your website launched. If you need help designing, developing, maintaining or marketing your website, please contact us.

Ready to discuss your project?