Launching a business and need to create a website? Here’s how to do it right
A lot of entrepreneurs who are starting out jump straight to, “I need a website, yesterday!” Creating a website is often the first thing small business owners do — and, TBH, it’s a big mistake.
Yes, websites are awesome. They give you credibility, showcase what you offer, and give people a place to buy them.
The problem with creating your website first thing is that, odds are, you won’t do it right. By “right” I mean: it won’t be based on a solid brand position and strategy that directly addresses your audience’s wants and needs with messaging that resonates with them as part of a broader integrated marketing strategy. If that sentence made you go either “huh” or “what is she talking about?!” please back awayyy from Wix or Squarespace or WordPress or whatever and go work on developing your brand. And also please remember that you — surprise — don’t need a website to start your business: you need customers. But I digress.
Anyway, if you’re like, “yeah, nailed it, I know exactly how my website fits into my audience journey and marketing strategy,” young grasshopper, you are ready to build a bangin’ website! Read on for the process that will help you build a great website in service of your business objectives.
“Creating a website is often the first thing small business owners do — and, TBH, it’s a big mistake.“
Information architecture & UI
Build your content
Functionality & integrations
DIY or hire an expert
Step 1: Decide on the Information architecture & User Experience
You need to know what conversions you want to achieve: what are the goals you want your target audiences to complete? Fill out a form, book a session, call you, sign up for a course?
This is why creating your website should be something you do AFTER you’ve developed your brand position and marketing strategy. You need to know how your target audiences think and understand their user journey. 97% of first-time site visitors will leave your website without purchasing anything. How are you going to build trust with them and nurture those relationships?
“You need to know the goals you want your target audiences to complete“
This is why the user experience (UX) needs to be at the heart of your website design. Think about each of your key target audiences. What do they need? What are they looking for? What do you want them to do?
Use this to map out the information architecture of your site. Architects design houses. Your website needs to be intelligently designed, too. You can think of this like a site map. What are all the pages of the site? How will they be organized? How will one lead to the other?
Step 2: Build your content
“YOU need to know what you want the website to say.“
One of the biggest mistakes I see — not just among early-stage business and nonprofit leaders, but also among seasoned communications and marketing professionals — is not understanding how the process for creating a website works.
YOU need to know what you want the website to say. YOU need to have all the content — the copy, the images, literally EVERYTHING (unless you are going to hire someone to do/create/get all that). You can find someone who will do all that for you PLUS web design and development — just remember that these are different things. Or you can simplify your life all together and hire me to move you through this whole process. 💁🏽
Step 3: Figure out what functionality & integrations you need
This goes hand in hand with Step 2. Sometimes one or the other will come first, but often, as you build out and finalize your content, you might realize you need different things.
There’s more to a website than words and images. You need to know what functionality your website needs — things like the ability to search, pay for something, or filter things are examples. You also need to make sure your website will integrate with your existing systems — financial (Stripe, PayPal, WooCommerce), email marketing (MailChimp, MailerLite), scheduling (Calendly), etc.
“Knowing the functionality and integrations you need will help you determine if you want to build the website yourself, or hire an expert to do it.“
If you’re going to hire someone, this is key information for that process. You want someone who is familiar with what you need and it will be a factor in the price they quote you.
Step 4: DIY or hire an expert
So, are you going to do it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you? This is the age old time-versus-money equation. There’s a lot to consider.
Here are some factors that generally contribute to whether you can or should hire someone versus go about trying to build your website yourself.
“This is the age old time-versus-money equation.”
DIY (DO IT YOURSELF)
- You know you’ll enjoy spending time learning how to create a website — and you have the motivation
- You know you’ll be good at building your website, and it won’t take you too much time or effort
- What you need is pretty simple and easy, and you feel confident you can get it done
- You want to give it a try and see how far you can get doing it yourself; you’ll have something simple you can build and improve on later
- You don’t have a choice — you don’t have the cash to invest in hiring someone to do it
- You know it will take you way longer to learn how to make a website — time that would be more valuably spent on the things you are better at (like, you know, your actual business) — than a professional can do it in
- Ask yourself: how many hours would it take me to do this myself? Multiply that by your hourly rate. Is that less than it would cost you to hire someone?
- Can/will a professional do a better job than you?
- You already tried doing it yourself — or already did it — and are ready to level up
Then of course, if you decide to hire someone, you need to make sure it’s the right person that is qualified and capable of doing the job. That’s something I can help you with, too — but a whole other topic!