Every business needs a website, but more importantly, every business needs a process for building a website.
The challenge small and startup businesses have is they generally don't have any good marketing plan for their business. When you have a great marketing plan, you may follow a slightly different process to the one below.
Here is how we approaching building a sub $10,000 website.
These are the philosophies we used to build this guide. These are the things we believe are true, and if you agree, this guide will be helpful to you.
Focus on the Customer and all else will follow
The biggest mistake we see made with websites is they don't build them around the needs and wants of the customer.
You need to adopt the digital marketer's mindset of being insanely useful to the customer. If the only reason a customer should go to your website is to read about how awesome your products and services are, you aren't going to be successful.
Instead think from the customer's perspective. The customer has a problem they are trying to solve, what's the best way to help them solve it? What can you do that builds up the relationship between you and the customer? How does the customer buy your product or service (most car buyers now know as much, or more than the salesperson). If you don't know, ask them.
Your Website Should be a Garden
Marketing legend, Seth Godin, insists that a website should be treated like a garden, not building.
Most website are build like buildings with someone engaging a website builder every 3-5 years to pull down the old and put up the new. Like a building, most of the work is done in the building, and once its built, very little maintenance or changes are made until the building is rebuilt.
A garden on the other hand starts small and grows over time. When the conditions change, you change the plants. Your goal with a garden is not to get it right on launch day, but it is instead to keep improving it every day it's in your care. Modern day platforms make this approach achievable for most businesses.
Deliver Value Early and Often
When should you launch your website? The minute it's better than your old website.
Too many projects go on months without providing any value to the business or their customers. When they are finally delivered, they miss the mark entirely with the customer and provide a poor return to the business.
We believe setting a clear strategy, creating content consistent with the strategy and getting it into the hands of customers as soon as possible is much better than spending months building the perfect website that doesn't sell your business.
The best slide i have ever found to describe this is this slide from spotify. Its actually explaining the concept of the Minimum Viable Product, but the idea is the same.
Zig Ziglar used to famously say "if you aim at nothing, you will hit every time".
Too often we see businesses build websites with one goal, to build a website. Imagine if you met someone who who told you they were starting a business with one goal, to start a business. You would probably think they were crazy, but somehow this is acceptable when we are talking about the centre of our digital footprint?
Think deeply about your goals. Where do your customers goals and your goals align? Write them down, share them with the team you work with. Challenge actions and ask "do these actions get me closer to my goals"
The Content-First Workflow
- First step is to start with the customer avatars. You will likely need to create 2-4 different customer avatars. The golden rule here is TLC = Think Like Customer.
- Resource: Customer Personas Template https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33491/Everything-Marketers-Need-to-Research-Create-Detailed-Buyer-Personas-Template.aspx
- Example: http://www.ryla9780.org/
we had three very different audiences looking for largely different information. Rather than build three sites, we built one around the audiences different requirements.
- Example: https://www.uptakedigital.com.au/
We built our site around our primary customer (small business) and they problems they have. We talk to businesses looking for next generation solution to new problems like Ransomware and email.
Provide a Useful information source to new and existing customers.
Generate More Qualified Leads
Improve Lead Conversion Rate
Increase Awareness / Educate Customer
Generate More Sales
Improve Sales Conversion Rate
Improve Customer Support
Improve Customer Satisfaction
- These goals will develop as you build up your content map.
- Action: Create a content map that decides what content will be reused, what will be created and the how you intent to interact with your visitors.
- Resource: How to Create Content Maps for Planning Your Website’s Content http://sixrevisions.com/content-strategy/content-mapping/
- Action: Create your need to have, should have, like to have list around what you want on your website.
- Tip: Some website features are really expensive, while others are quite cheap. you should also know by know whether ecommerce will be the core functionality of your site, or perhaps it's more information focused.
- Tip: Be careful, many will developers offer options that are obsolete or inappropriate based on your requirements. WordPress is often an excellent choice, but if you are a bricks and mortar retail store who wants an online shop, a shopify site might offer a better path for you.
- Tip: It's best to use a web host that only works with the platform you are working with. Generic cPanel web hosts are fine, but may not be ideal for running some wordpress sites.
- Stage 1: Create every piece of content you need to get the new site up and better than the old site. (home, about, contact us, couple of blogs, team, services, ect)
- Stage 2: Work with developer to design the front page. It should be minimalistic and easy to understand. (less is more)
- Stage 3: Build a "brochure site". This is basically all your content imported into a reasonably generic theme. The idea is to get the minimum viable product up and going.
- Stage 4: Do SEO related activities and get most of the technical things right.
- Stage 5: Start building out landing pages, sales funnels and any content advised by your content map.
- Stage 6: This is where your site might differ. This may be building out ecommerce, adding forums, or creating a content portfolio. It all depends on the business.
- Stage 7: Go for as long as you need.
- Tip: If you can, get a quote parted out by milestones and pay when milestones are completed. This is good for the customer and the web designer as it makes the payments more manageable on both sides