Creating a website for the first time? That should not be too difficult, you may ask? Choose a WordPress theme, put together some content and the website is ready to go live. Yes, many websites are created in this way, but what’s more important than the website itself, is the result you expect it to bring. And these results often turn out to be disappointing in practice. Are you going to build a new website? Then make a plan first. Here are 9 steps that you should not forget.
Determine the purpose of the new website
This is perhaps the most critical question in the list. Without an answer to the question, what the purpose of your website is, there is, in fact, no reason to start a new website at all. A website can have different goals:
- Generate more sales
- Provide additional information
- Community building
- Acquiring customers
- Online business card
But you may also need a private website for employees or partners. Think for example of an extranet or dealer zone.
As you can see, a website can have different (or even more) goals. Starting a website just because your competitor also has one is not a good starting point for a project that has to be a success.
Analyze the target group
Before you start a new website, I advise you to decide for whom you are actually creating the website. Who is your target group? Are these consumers or other companies? Are the customers local or international? Are they old or young people? Men or women? Perhaps you are targeting more than one target group. For an online business it is also important to determine:
- How do your visitors use the internet? What ‘language’ (read: keywords) do they use in Google and how much information do they need before they make a purchase?
- Is your target group the same for online as for offline users? Or are you trying to reach an entirely different target group online?
- Does the purpose of your website match the internet goals of your target group? Perhaps your target group did not (yet) purchase this product online, or similar companies in the industry mainly receive orders through word-of-mouth? Reaching your online goals becomes extra difficult.
Determining the target group is a difficult task, but this effort won’t be wasted. Based on this information you can focus the website much better on your target group. Besides, you can target products better, if you know, who you are targeting.
Mapping the competition
Today, many markets seem to be saturated. That is why it is essential to investigate the competition in advance so that you will soon be able to enter the battlefield more efficiently. Because even in market niches that already seem to be oversaturated, there is always a room for an extra player, assuming you strategically choose your position on the market.
Which position is a good choice, can be examined by the following key factors:
- Explore the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Why one competitor is more successful than the other can, for example, be fast delivery, extra services, a broad range of goods, good quality, but also strong branding can play to his advantage.
- Do a keywords search. How do your competitors score for popular keywords and maybe there are keywords that your potential customers would use, but your competitors do not score good at these keywords?
- Explore the online marketing strategy of your competitors. This not only shows where potential customers are present but perhaps also where competitors leave opportunities out.
Determine the problem of the target group
Many business websites are about the company itself. For example, what they do, who they are, what products they sell, where they are located, etc. Nevertheless, a good website is not created for the company itself, but for potential customers. The goal of the website is to a convince visitor to become a customer. The starting point of your website should therefore not be the company, but the problem of the visitor.
Examples of this type of problem are:
- Online marketing agency: a person’s business cannot be found on the web. That’s a problem, and he will look for an online marketing agency to solve it.
- Broker: the visitor cannot find the house of his dreams. That’s a problem, and he will look for an online real estate agent to help him.
- Restaurant: the visitor does not know where to eat tonight. That’s a problem, and he will look for a nearby restaurant online.
- Hotel: the visitor does not yet have a place to sleep during his vacation. That’s a problem, and he will look for a place to book online.
- Cleaning company: the visitor has a property that needs a lot of maintenance. That’s a problem, and he searches for a cleaner online.
You see, no one is looking to explore business profiles online, but instead looking to solve their problems. Every entrepreneur has a “target group with a problem.” Figure out this problem and take it as a starting point for building your new website.
Test your e-shop idea
Not every idea for an online shop will be a great success. It seems very easy to start an e-shop, but there several things that you have to take into account. For instance:
- The stock – Are you going to manage it yourself or through a third party (dropshipping)?
- Shipping – How much does it cost to ship the product and can the product be mailed safely?
- The market – Are there many competitors already? How will you stand out?
Create a functional design
Many entrepreneurs and companies want a beautiful website. But a website must mainly produce results and be functional. The user-friendliness of your website and functionality is just as important as the fancy logo you spent $2000 on.
A good project always starts with a stable functional design. This is an elaboration of what the website has to do and an overview of the pages and parts of the shopping process or other technical issues.
Branding on steroids
Do not forget about branding when you are developing an online strategy. Strong brands aren’t just marketing tricks, strong branding takes you a step ahead of other companies. A brand is not only better referenced and remembered, but also has a preferred status in the heads of customers and visitors. Think of Nike shoes, instead of some other brand you never heard about it. What will you choose? Developing a brand for your new website starts with:
- The mission and vision – What does your organization stand for and where do you want to go?
- The distinctive character – With a strong brand you try to stand out in the competition. An essential first step is to determine how you distinguish yourself from the rest.
- The corporate identity – A brand must also be easily recognizable. A good corporate identity that fits your organization should make this possible.
Even if you have already developed a brand, it is good to assess it properly. Does this still fit your organization?
Create an online marketing plan
Are you really creating a new website for a new project? Then you should know that the visitors will not come automatically. First and foremost, I recommend that all you make a budget for online marketing. Before or during the making of the website it is also important to think about how you will spend this budget. For example to:
- Search engine optimization – By improving your website for search engines, you increase the chance that you score higher in organic search results.
- Social media marketing – Reach more customers with informative, inspiring or entertaining content and interact with existing followers.
- Online advertising – Place ads in Google, on social media or on other websites that display advertisements.
- Collaboration with influencers – Let others write about your service or product to reach a broader audience.
- Offline advertising – Spread flyers, tickets, and posters or let already existing customers recommend your company to others.
Every online marketing tool has its’ advantages and disadvantages. A blend of both online and offline marketing usually produces the best results.
Making a plan that is feasible and that is not too far in the future.
Don’t you always make a schedule? Your website creation and results should also have a realistic deadline. Don’t expect results by tomorrow, but also don’t start a five years old agenda. Your new website can probably take a long time to develop into a big success.
Practice often proves that if there is no planning and scheduling, the project is often delayed or even suspended. Your new website will not be as successful as you had hoped in the beginning if you rush too much, or keep pushing your deadlines.
Do it yourself or outsource?
The kick-start of your own website project is a big challenge for many companies. The following components play a role in every website:
- Target group and competition analysis
- Communication and sales
- Design and branding
- Internet technologies
- Online marketing
If you want to make the website completely yourself, it is crucial that you have knowledge in all these topics to make the website project a success. Most entrepreneurs will not have sufficient knowledge, skills or an in-house team that has the needed experience, and therefore it may be better to outsource some major tasks. For example, you can outsource the design by purchasing a ready to use WordPress theme from Elegant Themes or Creative Market. You can outsource content creation, SEO services logo or copy writing on Fiverr. You can outsource professional writers on Bloggr. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks you are not good at to those who have a lot of experience and are ready to help for a fee. Good luck!