5 Items to Consider When Starting Your Website

It can be tempting to use a social media platform for your business page. And while you should take advantage of the free and low cost services from the proper social media platforms, eventually your business or nonprofit will need a website. Launching your own website enables you to exercise full control over what your users see and present the best front to close the deal or generate the lead. No more losing clicks to competitors or distractions on feeds.

Starting out with a new website can be a daunting task because it requires more than just designing a website. There are several components to launching a successful website, and missing out on one can derail your website’s ultimate success. Fortunately, all of these needs are easily addressable if you understand each item.

Here is a list of what to consider when starting your website:

  1. Register and lock in your memorable domain.
    Your domain name is the ticket to accessing your website when it comes to the internet. As the term domain implies, this is your area on the web, and it’s identified by a unique string of alphanumeric characters with the possibility of some special characters.

    This is a very important choice for your business or nonprofit. The domain should balance being true to your brand, being memorable, and yet remain succinct enough to not easily be misspelled, mistyped or forgotten.A great rule of thumb is to Google your business name and confirm whether there are similar names already in use.

    Sometimes, you may discover that your business name is already taken, but don’t let that discovery create a sick feeling in your gut. Instead, look at other combinations that describe your business, including the name of what you do, a local name (if applicable) or even a longer spelling of an abbreviated word.

    You will need to renew your domain annually, and it’s not a very expensive proposition. However, make sure you keep up with your domain name’s schedule, as an expiring domain means that customers cannot get to your website. This is a common mistake made by many business owners where they set-it-and-forget-it.

  2. Find the right web hosting provider.
    If your domain name is the equivalent of an address, then your web hosting is the dock where people visit to explore your website. Every website needs a web hosting service. Regardless of whether you use a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, or your website is designed from scratch HTML, CSS and Javascript, the files that comprise your website will need somewhere to be served to your customers.

    Selecting your web hosting provider can be a very difficult process. It can also generate more than one blog post about what to lookout for when it comes to common practices. Your web host should provide excellent uptime (the percentage of time your website is fully online and reachable), basic security features, and be available for help with web hosting issues when you need it.

    Web hosting is either a monthly or annual cost, and can easily run into the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars per month depending upon factors like your website’s traffic and content served to your visitors. The good news is that web hosting is often scalable and can grow as you need it, rather than starting out locked into the most expensive service. Watch out for tricks where the provider charges you a low fee for the first month or years, only to jack the price up later.
  1. Determine the action that you want your customers to take when visiting your website.
    In other words, begin with the end in mind. It can seem like a no-brainer to figure out what you want your customers to do on your website, but the answer goes beyond simply buying. Is your website just out there for general brand awareness because your product or service requires a lot of communication to rightsize the final offer? Or, should your customers be able to purchase your product and get the predicted shipping information right away? The design of your website may look a little different depending on the route that you take, and one website may need to generate a call to speak with your CSRs while another might need to notify the shipping team.

    You can’t quite put a dollar value on this part, but engaging an experienced web designer can go a long way in delivering the right solution.

  2. Design obvious and prominent calls to action.
    Arguably the holy grail of digital marketing is the call to action. It fits hand-to-glove with determining what action you want your customers to take, because the call to action is how your customers take the desired action. It could be a telephone number properly coded to move the user to their phone’s dial screen or it could be a link to a fancy form to capture every important detail.

    Regardless, prominent calls to action are a necessary part of any website. You need to use the right combination of words and phrases that make your visitors comfortable and clear on the next steps. In many cases, you may want to deliver multiple calls to action that involve multiple products or sales funnels. The exact nature of your website will drive the structure of your calls to action, and this is an area where you or your web designer will spend a lot of time.

    Again, the dollar value of this area will largely depend upon the complexity of the website, but if you are unclear on your calls to actions, your users will feel the same way.

  3. Design a mobile-friendly website.
    Honestly, you probably want to even be mobile-first, depending upon your target market. Over half of the web’s traffic now comes from cell phones and other mobile devices. This means that it’s often more likely that your customers will see your website on a smaller screen than a desktop or laptop. Websites should be accessible and responsive to fit on smaller screens, but maintain the ease-of-use and clear focus of their larger screen designs. There are many caveats to making your website responsive (adaptive to screen sizes) as well as following key accessibility requirements. You don’t want to miss out on users because your website is not accessible on mobile devices. That could end up being a rather large portion of potential sales!

    A responsive design can easily increase the costs of a website anywhere from 10 to 25%, but the good news is that this cost is baked into the price quote for many web designers. 

If you hit each of these five items to consider when starting your website, then it will set you on the right path to digital success. While many choose to use popular do-it-yourself site design tools, fully understanding the ins-and-outs of proper website design can place you with a leg up on your competitors. Working with an experienced web designer can lower your stress levels and help you focus on your business, while offering a pathway to increased sales.

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