Are you planning to build your first website? It can be a daunting task to do. There is so much to do: all the decisions to take, contents to write, layout to plan and obviously, a website to launch. But if you divide this massive task into smaller units and keep fundamentals clear in your mind, it would become a lot easier.
How do I know this? From experience! I have launched a lot of websites (few for my personal business that I have co-founded with Himanshu Patel, and a lot of our clients that we work with through our digital marketing business ItsGuru). With a lot of research and changes o the website, we have defined a basic checklist of key elements that every new website should be following. There is no “one fit for all” solution as it totally depends on a lot of other factors like: the type of business and the niche, your budget, your technical skills, etc. But there are a few basic fundamentals that remain the same for any business you are targeting.
What are those fundamentals? What are the points of guidelines or tips, one must strike out of the list in order to develop their first website successfully?
We are here to clear that cloud of confusion and give you a straight insight into how you can make the task of launching website, a breeze.
1. Start Off With a Purpose And Have a Vision
This is a universal fact that everything starts with a purpose. Purpose and visions are like building blocks of anything, so is with the website.
Why are you building a website? Why do you need it? What is the purpose behind it?
If you have answers to these questions, you are half way there at building your website.
If your website is about a service or products, if it is merely informational or personal website, develop it keeping the purpose in mind. You should not leave your visitors guessing about the purpose of your website, that’s the last thing that a visitor want to do.
2. Plan & Design Your Website Smartly
Have you ever heard of anything being built without any planning? Even if so, have you ever heard of it lasting long? No!!
Anything build, without planning is doomed to failure, so is your website!!
Therefore, plan your website ahead, what are the things to be displayed, how they should react and what should be your user experience are some of the areas that need to be looked meticulously.
For example, if you are a graphic designer, plan and design your website in Avada Theme or if you are a journalist design. your website in magazine layout theme.
Plan your design and layout, come up with relevant and smart content, spend some time collecting high-quality visuals and plan your SEO strategies (as is discussed in coming points) for your website. Planning will help you monitor your path, what you did so far and what you have to do now.
#1 Building Your Website
There are a lot of CMS (content management software) out there, some better than others. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal are a few popular ones, but my personal favorite is WordPress. Here I am talking about WordPress.org and not
WordPress.com. If you are looking for a fairly basic website (including eCommerce) or a blog, then these platforms are the way to move forward. If you are looking for a customized solution, then I would suggest hiring an external web development company or partnering with one (if you don’t have enough technical resources in hand).
I like WordPress because it’s quite customizable and you don’t require coding skills (until and unless you want huge customizations), has a lot of pre-designed themes (free and paid) and a gigantic repository of helpful plugins that come in handy when you want additional resources.
Techotics.com is made with WordPress and this beautiful Avada Theme which has a lot of pre-built variations and is fully customizable.
Keep it simple and readable. There is no need to select a creative font to stand out. When it comes to web typography, stick to the standard fonts that your visitors are used to.
Here are a few resources that will guide you through the web typographic and its best practices:
#3 Logo Design
Your logo is your identity, I mean you are gonna use it at every possible place you can. Your visitors and your customers will know you by the logo, so make it remarkable!
Spend some good amount of time researching the colors and the design. If you are not skilled as a graphic designer, there’s nothing wrong in freelancing that part.
- Gicree: get someone to design it for you starting from $5. You won’t get something really awesome for that price, but for starters, it should be good.
- Fiverr: similar kind of marketplace to get it designed, starting from $5. Contact the sellers before placing an order.
- UpWork: create and post your requirements and freelance designers will bid for the work.
- Freelancer: similar to upwork, but you get a lot of designers at a cheaper price as a lot are located outside of the USA and are ready to design for a lot less money.
3. Use High-Quality Visuals
Another way to make your website attractive is to use high-quality videos or pictures. I repeat: HIGH-QUALITY visuals.
How would you feel, if you are visiting a website and all of its images are blurry, pixilated or “unable to display”? NOT Good obviously!! Low-quality visuals will repel your visitors and will affect your impression in worst possible way.
So, do not take chances with your quality. Go for high-quality images. There are a lot of paid and free websites to find high quality images.
4. Ensure Smooth Navigation
Another thing you can do to win your visitors is, ensure their navigation to be as smooth as possible.
When it comes to the visitors, they don’t like to do any hard work. If they have a hard time locating the home button or comment section or any other thing they are looking for, they will simply leave your site.
Therefore, keep menus, share button, comment sections and other important stuff straight in their sight. Connect each and every blog on your website. Fill your website with relevant links to help them find important resources just with a click.
Just remember: Smoother the navigation better is the visitor’s experience.
#1: Keep it simple
You do not need to fit everything onto one page, just to confuse your visitor. Instead organize it properly. Build a navigation flow, just like you are walking your customer through each and every step individually.
Provide pages like “About Us” and “Contact Us” just in case your visitor needs to know about you or wants to contact you for any inquiry.
#2: Provide Search Option
It’s very likely that your visitor may be searching for something but is having a hard time locating it. A simple “Search” button will come to your rescue! That will ensure that your visitor may perform a search before leaving the website.
5. Build an effective SEO strategy
What is the purpose of a website, your online presence? To get online traffic that will browse your website and you can achieve your planned goals, right?
There is no need of going through all the trouble of developing an entire website if it is not ranked in search and people cannot find. Is there? Of course, not!!
Therefore, planning and figuring out the contents of the website is not enough, you need to plan your SEO strategy as well.
Optimize your website and content for better search engine ranking. After all, a better ranking is an indication of the good quality website.
6. Create Your Social Presence
Have you seen any website that has no social media account attached to it?? No, right?
That’s because social networking is integral to a website. No business should go live without making a presence on social media these days. Go and sign up on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram and other sites that you will be engaging on, with your audience.
Having social media accounts ready will help you in giving your visitors and an additional way of communicating with you, you can get their feedback through social media, engage with them and there is a lot more that you can achieve by targeting your audience there.
Another important thing you can do with social media is, create a buzz even before you are launched! That is a great way to build your audience even before you have made your first presence.
Do not wait till last minute as you might miss some of your great customers!
7. Get Your Content Ready
Launching a website is obviously not that easy. There are so many things to take care of, from non-technical aspects to technical ones, sometimes it just feels like there is too much on your plate. In between tending all your technical demands, it is easy to shift content writing down on the priority list. This is not a good thing to do, as we all are aware of the importance of good content.
One time-saving deed you do to help yourself a bit is to have all the contents ready for your website beforehand. Taking care of contents beforehand will give you enough time to work on contents without compromising its quality.
8. Double Check Your Technical Details, Or Better, Triple Check
Your early visitors are the most important visitors because they will be hugely responsible for building your reputation. So, taking a risk with their experience can cost you a lot and that is the reason why you should double check you technical details before launching your website.
Check if everything is working as they were supposed to work. Check if your mailing system is working or not if all the hyperlinks are active and pointing to right resources, if user-interface, commenting system and feedbacks all are in great condition.
Quick fix: there is a quick fix that I want to share: if there is a certain page that is yet to be constructed, rather than leaving as such and displaying “ERROR 404”, revise the page to give a message like “We are still working on it. Please check back soon”. This simple message will tell them, there is nothing wrong with the working of the website.
- Try to inherit the same theme as your website to give it a flow.
- Give quick links to other important pages that your visitor will find useful.
- Make it nice and funny, that your user doesn’t feel that he/she made a mistake by ending up on this page.
This is the most awaited moment. The most important thing to remember in this step is, launch your website on schedule. Whether the scheduled date was declared publicly or was made up in mind, launch it on the date. This will enable you to stay in line and work toward your goal. There is no worst enemy of website launch than “It will be ready when it’s ready” attitude of its builder.
The best characteristic of a website is, unlike other products you can keep on updating and adding new features to it. So, don’t worry, just launch your “for-now-finished” website and you can add other features further.
So, once all of the above points are taken care of, just Launch and see your website go online!!!
10. Measure Your Success
Now that you have done all the hard work its time to see if it’s as effective and worthwhile as it seemed? Measuring your success is as important as all the other key elements mentioned above. If you are not successful in achieving the goals that you had defined for your website, what’s the point of spending so many hours of hard work?
I won’t be able to cover all the website metrics in this post, as it requires a post in itself. But there are a few that tools out there that you can use:
#1 Analytics Tools
- Google Analytics (free)
- Clicky (free for 1 website, then $9/month)
- KISSMetrics (free for 30 days, then $149/month)
#2 Survey Tools
- SurveyGizmo (free and paid plans)
- SurveyMonkey (free for 10 questions, then $26/month)
Here is a detailed comparison of some of the most popular survey tools out there.
#3 Feedback from know resources.
Receiving feedback ensures that you are on the right track. There are a few ways that you can get feedback:
- You can contact your friends and family for their feedback and see what they have to offer in terms of their thoughts.
- You can shoot out an email (if you already have an email list, from another business/website) regarding the launch of your new website and ask for their feedback as well.
Note down their experiences and try to improve it for the rest of the visitors. Receive feedback from every resource available can be overwhelming and you don’t have to implement every suggestion you receive, just filter through it and decide what is right and what is not needed based on analyzing the needs of your audience.
While there is a lot to more to launching a new business and effective and attractive website design, adding these 10 key elements into your designing checklist will make a huge difference. Do not fall into the trap of going for the latest designing trends while overlooking the main purpose behind your website.
Focus on what your audience is looking for into your website and how all those minor details that you have added, like your call-to-action, search box, buttons, footer, etc are working. Keep on testing and keep on updating according to your audience’s needs. You will find that perfect mix (your taste + your audiences’ wants) with time and experience.
Launching a website is a vibrant experience, and it differs for each person. These were some pearls out of my experience, if your experience has taught you something else, make sure to drop them in the comment and share with everyone else!!
Top Image Courtesy Freepik