Behind every successful product or service is a great website. This is because in today’s digital age every business needs a high-performing and aesthetically pleasing online home where consumers can learn more about its offerings. Although the process of creating a site is easier than ever thanks to the hundreds of site creation options available, the process of creating a site that can actually perform for your company is still pretty complex.
Although it may be tempting to sign up and build your new site on the first template service you see an ad for, take a moment to think about your company’s needs as it grows first. There are several key areas where entrepreneurs should focus as they create their first website in order to set the site up for success in the future.
Here are five essential steps you should take before launching your first website.
1. Choose a Relevant Domain Name
Most website creation services will allow you to host your site within their domain. The problem is, doing so tags the service’s name onto your domain name, which clues site visitors in to the fact that you didn’t pay for your own hosting. The first step you should take in securing a solid domain name is to choose a reliable hosting service that is secure and capable of handling your site’s needs. Check out PC Mag’s guide to the top hosting services of 2016 if you’re not sure which hosting services are highly rated among site owners.
Once you have a hosting service that will allow you to create your own domain name, select a domain name that will be intuitive in a consumer’s mind when he or she is looking to visit your site. This not only helps you further establish your brand, but it also helps consumers find you without having to look up your business first. You can use a domain lookup tool like this one to find out if the domain you have in mind is already taken. If it is, the tool will provide several suggestions for similar domain names that aren’t already taken which could help you identify an available option that is relevant to your brand.
2. Work With a Versatile CMS
The site you build now will need to be updated regularly as your brand grows and industry needs and demands change. This is why it’s important to begin with a CMS (content management system) that is versatile enough for web developers and designers to go in and make changes as necessary in the future.
The most widely used CMS among the creative industry is WordPress. This is because the platform is customizable, SEO friendly, easy to use and navigate, secure, and flexible. All of this essentially means that it is an excellent platform to build and grow a successful site within. Wordpress benefits site owners and the creatives who work on their sites.
3. Invest in Design
Templates have made it easier than ever to build and alter your own site. If you have the resources to hire a designer and would prefer to go that route, great! If not, a DIY template is a great way to get going on your site, so long as you avoid free themes at all costs.
Free templates and WordPress themes might seem appealing at first, but there are several issues you might run into later on down the road if you opt for a free option rather than investing a small amount in a paid theme.
First of all, free themes look like free themes. They are pretty generic and don’t do much to help your brand stand out from competitors in its field. Second, they often don’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll need and aren’t guaranteed to be responsive.
Some of the top themes for WordPress run for around $59, which means you can get a high quality WordPress theme for your site that includes everything you need without breaking the bank.
4. Run CRO Testing
Even if you pick the coolest WordPress theme, it can do very little for you if you don’t do your part to create solid user experience on your end. This is where CRO, or conversion rate optimization, testing comes in.
Your conversion rate shows how many visitors who come to your site actually convert to customers. Conversion rate optimization basically means taking a strategic approach to improving the performance of your site by defining your site’s goals, collecting consumer insights, and making the most of the traffic your site receives based on what you’ve learned from AB testing and consumer feedback.
CRO is an important process that should be implemented prior to your site’s launch to ensure it is able to perform to its highest potential for your brand.
Quicksprout and Qualaroo both offer up excellent CRO testing guides for beginners if you need some help getting started. If you’re already familiar with CRO testing, I recommend checking out this Tech.co article for some excellent tips for refining your strategy.
5. Make Sure It's Mobile Friendly
A user’s ability to access and view your site easily from a mobile device has always been important. However, it’s become increasingly important now that Google has officially announced an algorithmic change that favors sites with mobile-friendly design.
Changes to Google’s ranking algorithm now push sites that are not mobile-friendly down in the search results and boosts those that are mobile friendly up in ranking. If your site doesn’t pass Google’s test for mobile-friendliness, it could be difficult for consumers to find it as they search relevant terms in the search engine.
Speak with a designer or enlist the help of an SEO to find out how you can make your site mobile friendly. Building your first website is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. Despite the frustration, keep focused on the details and implement these tips throughout the creative process to build a site with a solid foundation.