We recently shared 10 reasons why every small business needs a website, so naturally, we’d like to follow-up with some insight on the requirements of starting one. It’s tough to consider what is needed to build a quality site, and not being prepared can push a project back weeks at a time. Many small business owners commonly cite time, money, and expertise as top reasons to why they don’t have a website. If any of these resonate with you, we hope our tips can help you navigate a new website build with more peace of mind.
Here are 14 things you need before starting a website:
Domain Name and Hosting Provider
Let's start with the obvious. Depending on the goal of the site, you should strive to use a domain name that’s either your company name, your name, or something relatable to its purpose.
For example, a website for a lawyer could be thelawyerguy.com. If you’re a plumbing company named Plumber Guys, then you may want theplumberguys.com. Keeping your company and domain name as consistent as possible makes it memorable and easy to find.
Hosting providers can be third party vendors such as GoDaddy or Inmotion, or directly through website builders like Squarespace, Wix, or Wordpress. We recommend the latter if you prefer to keep it all in one place.
If you’re building the site yourself, we recommend selecting a website builder like Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, or Wordpress. Each builder comes with pre-built templates, along with some customization. Designed a website yourself can be a daunting task, so for those who are less technical, we recommend Squarespace or Wix.
Color and Layout Theme
Communicating your brand and creating a memorable experience can be achieved by implementing a relevant layout, colors, and elements. Depending on the goal of the website, your design can range from modern and minimalist to bright and interactive. Drawing ideas from websites that inspire you can be a great starting place.
We encourage using your own images to create the look and feel you want. However, we understand your capacity may not allow for custom photography. If you fall into this bucket, there are services that offer free stock images such as Unsplash and Pexels.
Ask yourself, “What’s the purpose of my website?” Whatever it is, you should have an identity that distinguishes you from competitors, including a logo, design layout, and images.
Make it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your website. A simple top of page navigation is what we’d recommend, as it’s easy to spot. As you plan your website build, consider the pages you want to publish and how you want visitors to flow through your website. Outlining pages and subpages before your build can help inform the content you’ll need to create.
Think about the actions you want your target demographic to take when they’re on any of your pages. If you’re a nonprofit, your CTA may be to donate. Therefore, you’d want to prominently display your donate CTA somewhere clearly visible. Other CTAs include downloading a piece of content, subscribing to a newsletter, requesting a demo, book a consultation, and more. To take it a step further, identify where you want your CTAs to live on your website, e.g. donate CTA on homepage navigation and newsletter opt-in on blog page.
Whether it’s helpful tips, how-to guides, op-ed articles, or a collection of your favorite photos, creating and sharing content through a blog is a great way to engage your audience and generate traffic.
Your website can easily get lost in the jungle of search engines. Therefore, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important considerations to stand out above the competition. When preparing for a launch, be sure to identify keywords you’d like to rank or appear for and have a content strategy that draws visitors. For starters, if you’re a luxury car window tinting business in Los Angeles, you might consider using the longtail keyword, “Luxury auto tinting in Los Angeles,” within your page descriptions and content throughout your website.
Check out our post “5 SEO Hacks to Increase Landing Page Traffic” for tips on optimizing your website.
According to Statista, over half of web traffic comes from mobile devices. It’s a competitive advantage if you’re in a field that’s not so technical. We recommend visiting the websites of your competition to see if they’re mobile-optimized. This will give you an idea of the landscape and where your company falls. If your website is not optimized for mobile, then you’re going to miss out on potential customers.
This is obvious if you’re starting any business and wanting a website. You need to have an online presence, and one of the best ways is to be actively posting on social media. Having your social media handle linked on your website is a must.
Document every positive testimonial and display it on your site, across pages that will push your leads along the buyer’s journey. Testimonials not only help drive search traffic and keyword ranking, but also increases the likelihood of conversion.
How do you want to present yourself? Having original text showcasing your brand’s story, mission, and offerings will distinguish your from competitors. No one can tell your story better than you, so make sure the content stands out to capture your audience. If you need a little nudge or inspiration, we can help you craft a meaningful message. Holler at us here.
There are many analytics tools out there but we recommend using Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to integrate. Using GA helps you collect data to track website performance, better understand your customers, and tailor content and offerings. Consider this - your newly launched website is generating a lot of traffic but your CTAs are not converting. Why? Maybe your CTAs are not readily visible or they’re in the wrong places. Gathering data on visitor behavior from GA can help you identify this gap.
Building a website for your business or personal brand is a major but necessary consideration when starting out. Whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a designer or agency, preparing yourself with the necessary assets will provide a clear roadmap for the project at hand and reduce redundancies.