10 Steps for Creating a Killer Website
Stand Out and be Noticed!
In this article, Dr. Frederiksen discusses 10 steps to create a â€śkillerâ€ť website.
1.Â Begin with a clear business strategy.
It may sound obvious, but your website should support your overall business strategy, and vice versa.Â Your site should help you generate leads, close more business, and move people through your sales funnel.Â The site should also convey your firmâ€™s positioning, persuade audiences, and educate/engage prospects.Â Only after you have made sure your strategy addresses these needs should you start working on your site.
2.Â Learn about your audiences through research.
Who are your audiences, and what it important to them? Â You might think you already know, but in my experience, companies that conduct focused research always gain valuable and actionable insights for making sure their content and messaging is relevant to key audiences.
3.Â Develop your siteâ€™s structure and functionalities.
Consider why and how people visit your site.Â Do you have mechanisms to help them find what they are looking for, and convert them into leads? Â Do you want to provide visitors with a lot of options, or simplify their experience? Â Your decisions at this stage can have huge implicationsâ€”including costly fixes to structural problems later on.
4.Â Design how your site looks and feels.
Most designers start with the homepage as it is typically a siteâ€™s most visually complex page.Â Then you carry that look throughout the different types of pages.Â Among the many elements to consider are colors, typefaces, imagery, layout, headlines, animations, and offer copy.Â You also need to address how your site will look on mobile devices.Â An approach called responsive design allows sites to rearrange, resize, and simplify layouts depending on the size of a userâ€™s screen.
5.Â Write copy for your website.
For most companies, some of the copy on a new website must be written from scratch.Â Other copy (like blog posts and news items) can be transferred as-is.Â Some pages need editing, while others must simply be deleted.Â List every page on your old site in a spreadsheet (for large sites, use software tools that â€ścrawlâ€ť your site and capture each pageâ€™s URL).Â Next, go through this list and tag each page as New, Move As Is, Move and Edit, or Deleteâ€”and map each page to its new location.
6.Â Develop the website.
This process typically happens on a separate, private development server, although you may be given special access during the quality control phase, or perhaps sooner.Â As your development team is working, they may ask questions.Â Try to answer these quickly, because in some cases the developers may not be able to move forward until you do.
7.Â Quality control and debugging.
At least a couple of weeks prior to launch, visit every page and click on every link.Â Be on the lookout for anything that does not look or work right.Â If your web developer offers an online bug tracking system, use it.Â If not, set up an Excel file or Google Sheets document to track problems and their status.
Most modern websites are built on a content management system (CMS), making it easy to add, edit, and remove content.Â While the most popular CMS platforms (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) are fairly intuitive, they also offer loads of features and settings.Â So before launch, train everyone who will be working on your website (usually, users can learn the essentials in an hour or so).Â You should also create a step-by-step manual covering the most common tasks.
9.Â Launch your new website.
Have your team ready on the launch date to troubleshoot and fix glitches.Â One best practice is to launch when there is minimal traffic, such as Friday evening or during the weekend, so that when problems arise, few outsiders will see them.Â Likewise, it is better not to announce your new site immediately.Â Give yourself a few days, or even a week, to make sure everything is looking and working right.
10.Â Promote and optimize.
When the new site has been running smoothly for a few days, start promoting it via e-mail, social media, and press releases.Â Share links to your educational materials, and if you have a blog, invite people to read it and subscribe.
Monitor your websiteâ€™s metrics.Â Is it loading quickly enough? Â Are your visitors converting at the expected rates? Â How heavy is traffic? Â After launch, compare these metrics to those of your old site.Â Chances are, you will still find some things that do not workâ€”so plan on adjusting along the way.
Remember: Your website is not something you create and then forget about.Â It is a crucial component of any modern B2B marketing programâ€”so it pays to make ongoing, incremental improvements to both its performance and content.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Mr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.