Does your business need a website? The answer is yes. If your business is not online, you are missing out on a large chunk of your potential market. It’s estimated that by the year 2040, 95% of purchases will be through eCommerce. So, where do you begin? In this guide, we will walk through all of the steps from creating your brand, to the process of designing/developing your website and marketing it. Let’s get started.
What is your “why”. Why do you do or make the products you make? Who are they made for? Why does that group of people need your service or product? This is all an important part of creating your brand identity or the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo.
Color is one of the most visible, distinguishing components of a brand. The color will influence the mood of your branding and website. You can choose palettes that are either monochromatic (many tints and shades of a single color), Analogous (colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel), or Complementary (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel). Gather color inspirations from different images or branding and try creating a mood board.
When choosing fonts for your logo and website, it’s important to choose fonts that are web-safe and easily readable. Serif fonts are fonts with a small line or stroke attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter. Some examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Georgia, Palatino, and Garamond. Sans Serif font means “without serif”. Some examples of sans serif fonts are Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial, and Geneva.
When designing your logo you want to take into consideration how you will use it. For example, the Nike logo is simple and clean enough to be put on a shoe and still be recognizable. You also want to remember that your logo should be able to be printed on a different color or patterned backgrounds and still be recognizable and clear. Designers will design your logo as a vector which means that it can scale up or down to any size without any loss of resolution. When coming up with a logo design, give your designer some examples of what you like and don't like so they can have a better idea of your vision.
To start the design process of your website you need to create an outline and wireframe. Outline the pages you will need for your website and the function the pages will serve. Next, you will want to wireframe your website. A wireframe is a simplified visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. This will guide you on where you want images, videos, and content placed. There are no graphics involved – simply I want “this” to go here and “that” to go there.
This is the time to start taking pictures and creating video for your website. Professional photography and videography are critical to making your website look trustworthy. 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video.
It’s time to start writing content for your website. This can be a daunting task for some, so you may want to consider hiring a professional content writer. If you are doing this on your own be sure to have others review it for grammar issues. Be sure to include compiling language and have a clear message. You can use software like Grammarly to check your spelling, grammar, and clarity.
Now it’s time for the design to start the mockup process. Your website designer will take your branding, outline, wireframe, photos, and content, and start designing what your website will look like. Giving your designer inspiration from other websites you like may be helpful for them. Additionally, it's important to give timely and detailed feedback when they provide you with the mockups so the design process can stay on schedule.
Once your design has been approved it time to move to the coding process. Here the development team will take over and start to wring the code of your website. There are several different types of code your website can be written in. Your development team will provide you with options and guide you in the best direction.
API stands for Application Programming Interface and allows for applications to talk and interact with each other. For example, if you are a realtor and you need an MLS integration for your website an API would allow you to do that. If you need another company’s software to work on your website, your developer can write code to have the systems interact with each other.
Plugins are software add-ons that are installed on a website for enhancing its capabilities. Your developer will add plugins that are important to your website's functionality and performance.
Once everything is coded it’s time to review your website and test it. Be sure to walk through all conversion areas and make sure it runs as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to test forms and other functional features.
You will need to secure your domain name for your website. You can do this by going to Godaddy.com and searching to see if your domain name is available.
A hosting provider provides space on a web server for your website to store its files. Think of it like real estate. You are renting a plot of land (hosting) to put your house on (your website). Hosting can be bill monthly or yearly depending on your budget.
You know that little lock symbol you see when you type in a URL. That means the website has an SSL Certificate. SSL stands for secure sockets layer, and its purpose is to transmit private data securely over the Internet by encrypting it. You will need to purchase and renew your SSL certificate every year.
After your website is launched it is important to keep it secure. All of the plugins and platform versions must be up to date when features are added or fixed. This will protect your website from going down and/or from being hacked.
If you are selling products on your website it is important to have a website manager to make sure that your orders are going through properly and you are receiving customer feedback. Having someone keeping an eye on your daily website activity can prevent large scale issues from occurring.
Blogging is a key component of your digital marketing strategy. To Google, content is king. Fresh content allows your website to show up for more search results. This is great news for your SEO. Blogging also allows you to show yourself as an expert in your field. It breeds trust with your audience. Try blogging at least once a week. If you don’t have time to blog, consider hiring a content writer to help.
In today’s day and age you must have social media if you want to reach your customers where they live, online. Set up a Facebook, Instagram, Linked-in, and Twitter account for your business. Setting up a posting schedule in advance can keep you consistent with your content marketing. Dedicating a staff member to be in charge of your social media or hiring a professional social media manager will increase your chances of success.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to your website from search engines. SEO is best handled by professionals as they know the technical ins and outs of the ever-changing Google algorithm. You can do your part as a business owner by adding new content, sharing your content on social media, and creating a business profile on google business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and other similar business profile websites to create backlinks.