A website will almost always be a work in progress, launching one is not easy if you don't have the right tools and support. There are always tweaks to be made and changes that will affect the user experience, traffic and overall theme of the pages. But there are also a few key mistakes that people typically make when it comes to starting from scratch.
This morning Jeremy and I sat down to go through some of these key mistakes and while it was originally a large list we have refined it down to these 10. If you can focus on getting these right, you’ll have greater success in launching your businesses website.
1. Domain Names: Choosing a domain that is relevant, easy to remember and consistent with your brand. Check out Ryan’s post on “Your perfect domain name”
2. Brand Consistency: Spend the time to make your site look and feel like the rest of your brand. So if you have already designed a business card with certain design elements, make sure that you keep them consistent with your website. Professionalism is what you are looking for and it gives your customers confidence shopping with you online or in your physical store when everything is the same. This includes colors, tone of copy and including your company logo.
3. Consistent and concise information: Your customers are busy people these days and get bombarded with information all day. Having clear, consistent content which is easy to navigate is so important but too many people try to over communicate everything they do and how they do it to get their message across. Keep the format the same, shorter is better and above the fold is where your most important content should live. “Above the fold” is the term used for all the content you can see within the top part of the screen and it’s high value real estate. Check out Ryan’s post about content above the fold.
4. Call to action: Micro businesses have a website for a reason, be it informing their customers of where they are and how to contact them, selling products, or putting out content around their industry or demographic.. But no matter what the reason, there should always be a clear call to action for the customer to act and take further steps to do business with you. Giving the customer a clear direction gives you a better chance at a successful outcome. If you want them buy something think about the information they will need to know before buying. Give it to them then provide them with an avenue to purchase. For example, a PayPal purchase button or large phone number call out for estimates. Even a simple “contact us today!” can be effective in spurring action once people have landed on your site.
5. Investing time: Spend some time up front to make your site look professional and well presented. Check over your site design and content before making it live to the world. It doesn’t need to be perfect when you start, but having areas of your site looking sloppy does not make a good first impression. You want it to be as close to perfect as possible before launching it.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think about search engine optimization while building your site and consistently after it has launched. Too many people think about it after the fact and being aware of good SEO practices from the start will put you in a much better position to maximize your online potential. The Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer is a great tool to be able to monitor your SEO.
7. Customer contact details: At every opportunity try to capture your customer contact details so that you have an avenue to contact them in the future. Having a “Contact Us” page is a must, which will allows you to take your potential customer’s information in the process. Be open about your contact details; put your contact information on every single page of your website to make it easy to find. This will help you build a database of your customers and allow you to use mediums such as Email Marketing in the future.
8. Announce your site: People are not going to just stumble upon your site; they need to know or hear about it. Create an email marketing campaign to announce the launch of a new site, share it with your friends on Facebook, reach out to your local Chamber of commerce and put a link to the site on your new business cards or other marketing materials.
9. Understanding your data: Once you have your site set up and customers are coming to your site keep an eye on your website traffic. Make sure you’re taking the right steps to boost that traffic and testing your efforts over time. Again, your site won’t be stumbled upon, you need to be proactive about getting it found by search engines and customers. Check out an article by Francine on “Understanding your website traffic.”
10. Don’t set it and forget it: Your business is growing and changing all the time. Your website should be too. Too often micro businesses think, “Oh I have a website now, I am all set there.” The actual answer is, “it takes time to grow your business online and requires continual improvement.” Consistently spend time each week to monitor and make updates to your website. Listen to customer feedback and make changes to improve.
Hopefully these tips help you whether you are just getting started or are working on improving your site. Look forward to hearing the mistakes you made when starting out.