Let’s face it. The idea of launching a new website can be intimidating and overwhelming, yet necessary and often overdue. As technology changes to accommodate new usage patterns and a propensity toward mobile viewing, today’s web design has completely evolved from the Web 2.0 of the early 2000’s or even the designs of the early 2010s. Tablets and smart phones taught us to swipe left or right, up or down, to find the content we are looking for. Faster WIFI trained us to impatiently click out of anything that takes much more than a second to load. Bluetooth proliferation has taught us we never have to be tethered to any cable to find the information we seek or complete the tasks on our to-do list.
The good news is, easy content-management platforms like WordPress allow anyone to be more “hands on” in their website’s updating. The bad news is, sites can start to look horsey with the 120th photo on the home page inserted just because you could. If you are one who spent hours up on hours building your own site, I applaud your enthusiasm. But is that really the best use of your time and the best reflection of your brand? At the end of this list, I’ll give you an example of a client who has done everything on this top 10 list, with tremendous success.
So, with that in mind, here is my Top 10 “Keeping It Real Guide” To Launching A Website.
- Let go and focus on what you do best. That’s right, step away from the keyboard. Find a digital design team you trust, and see where some fresh thinking might take you. Even if you’ve designed your old html site in the past, there are new trends and techniques in web design that html could only dream of. I’m not saying don’t be involved (see #3), but definitely be open to some new ideas.
- Does this website make my butt look big? Come on, if you’re asking that kind of question, it probably does. Rule of thumb, if it looks bad, feels bad, reads badly or is simply kinda clunky, then that’s how others will perceive it. Compare your new site side by side with other sites you admire. If they blow yours away, go for Round Two. Explore some WordPress themes you like on sites like https://themeforest.net/ or https://www.elegantthemes.com/. Often, you’ll find the functionality and appearance you might have been looking for all along. With some customization and a good digital design team, you can make it suit you to a tee.
- Be available even when it’s not always convenient. I wish there was an entrepreneurial version of the Vulcan Mind Probe from Star Trek, but there’s not. We can’t dig into your brain’s database with a couple of fingers to the forehead and cheek and pull out everything you want to say, show, do, and be to your audience. Sure, we’ll do the research and have a good idea what type of voice that will serve your brand best, but no one knows your business better than you do. Be available to answers questions. Be involved to comment on the flow and tenor of content. I’m not asking you to write copy (please, don’t), I am asking you to provide enough fodder for your team to develop a really compelling user experience.
- Maintain control with a vengeance. Nothing is more frustrating for a client than to not know how to access their website, where it’s hosted, who’s name the URL is registered in, etc., etc. These are the issues that keep business owners up at night. Always, always, always purchase domain names and hosting packages in your name using your credentials, so no one can hold you hostage later on when you’re ready to make a change. It’s sick and sad that some web developers withhold access information as a form of client retention, but it happens all to often.
- Be open to something new. This kind of ties into number one, with a twist. By this I mean be open to new color schemes. Maybe to a new logo if the one you have is tired and worn, or simply too Mom and Pop for the company you’ve become. Perhaps a whole new “about you” story is just dying to be written. Turn all those creative minds you have on your team loose and maybe, just maybe, they’ll help you see your company in a whole new way. A new website is also a great time to launch a refreshed, new brand.
- Get schooled and get in there. What is the good of having a content-managed website (CMS) if you’re never trained on it? That’s like owning a car with a stick shift you can’t drive. It looks great in the driveway, but it won’t get you far. Make sure anyone who designs your CMS site can train you on how to update it. And be sure to ask them to lock you out of areas where you can unknowingly harm the overall design. Some tweaks will always require a skilled web pro.
- Know their limits and provide valuable content. Sometimes, a client with a new website they control is like a kid with a new bicycle – complete with bell and streamers. Set up a plan of attack and a schedule to help keep you on track when changing and managing content, and then inform your email database that a change has taken place with a realistic frequency. Only send eblasts directing people back to your site when you have something really provoking to say. A couple of blog posts a month is plenty for most small businesses. Inundating an already information-stressed database doesn’t do anybody any good.
- Search engine optimization, please. Building a new website doesn’t automatically get results. If it’s a new site, it takes time for Google to index your site and all the other search engines to also recognize you’re out there. A good SEO plan can propel you to the top of search engine rankings, but don’t expect things to happen overnight. Stay the course, and keep consistent, and above all, hire a team that really knows what they’re doing, like Shield Watch IT Services in Tampa. http://www.ShieldWatch.com
- Be patient and be realistic. Websites can have a lot of working parts, so make sure you and your team set a realistic expectation for roll out. On the other hand, don’t drag your feet because it takes longer to dust off the project after sitting idle for too long than it does to just keep moving toward to final—even if at a slower pace. Also, if you’ve ventured out on your own, and then want your site “fixed” right away, you might just have to wait a minute. It often takes more time to unravel a site done poorly by a non-professional than to start from scratch.
- Tell the world. A new website is a thing of beauty and something to be proud of. Tell your friends on Facebook, send out an eblast, and make sure to include it on your email signature along with all your other media links. It’s your digital storefront, so promote it as such.
Meet one of our clients who followed all of these top 10 steps for great results, Motor Home Finders. http://www.motorhomefinders.com.
We’re now going on Year 3 with these fine folks, and their brand has never looked better. When we first met, they were working with an outdated template, no Google analytics to track visitor behavior and a site that was functional, but not as dynamic as it could be. We encouraged them to do a simple three step approach to more a more effective site – 1, Redesign & rebrand. 2, SEO. 3, Continual content refreshment. The site redesign involved a logo new, new tagline and entirely new direction for this then 10-year-old brand. The color palette of black, gold and white was as rich as the coaches they broker, and the interactive inventory search simplified the customer experience.
Once built and launched, aggressive SEO measures were put in place including organic rank improvement, pay-per-click keyword campaigns, blogging, and continual content refinement. Since we began this effort in November of 2014, Motor Home Finders now has 5 of its 15 targeted key words in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th positions on Google. From July of 2015 to November, 2015, traffic has results in 72,002 sessions, 39,659 new users, 396,062 page views, and an average of 5.50 pages viewed per session. On the pay-per-click side, campaigns from July through November of 2015 generated 7,883 clicks, 224,870 impressions, and 16 conversions. Overall, there were 156 conversions or leads Motor Home Finders received through the Contact Us or Used RV forms in the website in that five-month period in 2015.
By following all the top 10 steps outlined in this guide, Motor Home Finders is now attracting a more highly qualified audience, more convertible traffic, and offers buyers a seamless, simple process to make the purchase.
Thanks for reading. If we can help you with your digital presence, give me a call. Until next time…
Keeping it real,