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What Do I Need to Know Before I Build a Website?

Launching Your Website: A Strategic Approach

Building a successful website requires careful planning and execution. You need a marketing strategy, a lot of written content, images and logos, testimonials, and, of course. This guide outlines the key steps involved, ensuring a smooth launch and a platform that effectively meets your business objectives.

Define Your Website’s Purpose and Goals: What should a website DO for you?

  • Identify your target audience: Clearly understand who you are trying to reach with your website. What are the most important things they want to know about you?
  • Outline your website’s objectives: Determine what actions you want visitors to take, such as contacting you, making a purchase, or learning more about your services. What is the MOST important thing for them to do; second most important; third most important?

Secure Your Digital Foundation: Buying a URL that works.

  • Choose a memorable and relevant domain name: This will be your website’s address on the internet. Do NOT get cutesy or obscure – no one will find you. Say what you do and who you are in your name/brand. Then, use godaddy.com or name.com to search for the availability of the .com URL and purchase the domain (you don’t need add-ons at this point; the web designer will do it.)
  • Select a reliable web hosting provider: This can be the same company or person who builds your website. I like this best and get the best customer service for my clients. Consider factors like storage space, bandwidth, security features, and customer support. 

Design and Develop Your Website: How to make a readable website. 

  • Develop a sitemap: This outlines the structure and hierarchy of your website’s pages. Look at competitors to make a list of navigation buttons and dropdowns to start. Then you’ll write content later.
  • Choose a website builder or hire a web designer: This decision depends on your technical skills and budget. Pricing has come down. Dramatically. Unless you have a special need to learn web design, it’s likely worth your time to hire a professional – but, you’ll still be responsible for the content.
  • Focus on user experience and brand consistency: Ensure your website is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and reflects your brand identity. Readability is key. Avoid low contrast colors (i.e. mauve on a pink background), fancy fonts (may not represent on all devices), underlined text, and consider how it looks on desktop and mobile both. Avoid text overlay on photos as it is presented as a photo and ADA readability assistive devices don’t read photographs. 

Content Creation and Functionality: What’s so special about XYZ?

  • Develop high-quality content: This includes text, images, videos, and other multimedia elements that benefit and engage your audience. Educate before you sell. Use a call to action to keep people engaged and moving around the site.
  • Implement essential features: This may involve contact forms, e-commerce functionalities, or social media integration, depending on your specific needs. A download/white paper/flier can collect email addresses for remarkint.
  • Optimize for search engines (SEO): Use relevant keywords and meta descriptions to improve your website’s visibility in search results. AI can help you with this. Use natural long-format content like blogs and FAQ to get your keywords (short or long-tail) into your website. Don’t try to pack them all into one page.

Testing and Pre-Launch: When should you launch your website?

  • Thoroughly test your website: Ensure all functionalities, links, and forms work correctly across different devices and browsers. Share it (quietly) with friends and close associates to get user experience feedback. Alter as needed. Rinse and repeat until you have satisfied as any functionality issues.
  • At 85% completion, focus on:
    • User experience: Test navigation, page loading speed, and overall usability.
    • Content accuracy and completeness: Check for typos, factual errors, and missing information.
    • Functionality: Verify all forms, links, and interactive elements work as intended.
    • Mobile responsiveness: Ensure the website displays and functions seamlessly on various screen sizes.
    • SEO optimization: Review keyword usage, meta descriptions, and website structure.

Launch and Promotion: Taking your website live.

  • Connect URL, SSL via your web hosting provider and web designer. You need these to publish your site or google will not show it to anyone.
  • Make your website live on the internet: Your website designer will upload your website files to your web hosting provider and “turn the key.” 
  • Develop a marketing strategy: Don’t flood all your feeds with your brand new URL! Go slowly and invite strategic groups slowly various channels like social media, search engine advertising, and email marketing to drive traffic to your website.

Monitor and Maintain: How do you know how your website is performing?

  • Track website traffic and user engagement: Connect Google Analytics, use Google Tags, Create UTM URLs for special campaigns. As you go forward, analyze your web data to understand what’s working and identify areas for improvement. Do more of what works.
  • Regularly update your website: Add fresh content, fix bugs, and maintain website security. Monthly. With AI it’s a really quick fix for Blog Blockage – that need we have to write blog content every. Single. Month. Give Google Gemini a try. I’ve enjoyed using it but it’s only as good as what you put in as prompts. And you still want to personalize your content.

Don’t go cheap. Hire a professional or upgrade to professional templates.

Don’t choose a name (or URL) no one will remember or be able to find. 

Make the website design easy on the eyes, and remember, continuous monitoring and improvement are crucial for maintaining a website that performs well and delivers value over time.

Following these steps will provide a solid foundation for launching a successful website that aligns with your business goals and resonates with your target audience.

You have such great energy; you make me feel confident in my decisions. Thank you for pointing out to us to watch our numbers. I will definitely take you up on getting together to chat over some tea.

—Gail Goodrich, Binfinity & Beyond, LLC

I really appreciate you, Debi. I’ve been figuring this out on my own for 15 years. You are a blessing to me.

—Karen Koch, Home Modification Occupational Therapy Alliance

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing so much information. I look forward to being able to be involved in this great networking experience. I really will call on your assistance for the help with this Business Plan.

—Joanna Partee, Silver Fox Assistant, LLC

We couldn’t have gotten this far without your advice and encouragement!! Thank you!!

—Sherry Seston, Vintage Inn & Winery

Thank you so much for the help. This wouldn’t have been possible without you. Am very grateful for your help and support and all the encouragement and positive vibes. God bless you!

—Isa Clark

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—Sonja A. Dean, Senior Program Officer, LISC

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—Jäquil Short

We look forward to seeing more programing and resources from the South Haven Region Business Hub.

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—Mo’Nique Crowley, Fruit Street Kitchen

Thank you for all your help as always I can’t sing your praises enough.

—Brent Wedding, Business Banking Relationship Manager, PNC Bank

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