What’s the first thing you did when you realized that your idea was more than just an idea? I’ll guess that when you discovered this thing was going to be a legitimate business, you went searching for a business name and then bought a website domain.
This process is common, but after the domain has been purchased, most entrepreneurs aren’t sure where to turn next. What do I need to put on my website? How much is it going to cost me to have someone create this website? Do I even really need one?
Yes you do, so let’s start there.
You need to have one
For the love of all things holy, you need a website. I’ve seen a few people out there who argue you can build up a strong presence on social media and sell from there — which is not incorrect — but there’s so much more to a website than selling.
First of all, it gives you credibility. If you’re doing social media right, there’s a good chance people who follow you and consume your content want to know more. What if they want to know about pricing and it’s not listed on your social profiles? Maybe they’ll send a DM. Maybe they’ll move on to a company that states things more clearly.
It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it must be clear
Your startup website doesn’t need to be fancy, I promise you. Too many people are concerned with creating a website that stands out that they’re not creating a website their visitors can actually understand.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is: if I didn’t know ANYTHING about this company, would it be immediately clear when the website loads? Whether it be through imagery or a short bit of text, whatever is above the fold should be explicit. (Above the fold means whatever someone sees on your site before they start scrolling.)
This is not the time to be clever; this is not the time for fancy taglines or unusual imagery. Keep it basic. Keep it clear.
The next thing you should be concerned with is your main navigation. What is the most important action you want your visitor to take on your site? Is there a clear path to take that action?
Sloppy navigation can truly break a site. If someone can’t find what they’re looking for in 2 or 3 clicks, you’ve lost them.
Don’t lose the chance to capture a lead
Hands down, having no way to capture a lead on the website is the biggest mistake I see startups making. Without an email or a phone number or some way to get back in touch with them and nurture them, you’re missing some big opportunities because they may not be in the right mindset to purchase at that very moment they’re visiting your site.
You can have your phone number or contact form clearly visible, but there’s another way to consider: by using a lead magnet.
Simply put, a lead magnet is something that entices your lead to give their email to you in exchange for something of value. Most websites use PDFs like checklists, templates, and guides to get the visitor interested in sharing their email, but a lead magnet can even be a coupon code or free service. You’ve got to pick what’s going to be best for your audience.
Wordpress or Squarespace?
If online marketing isn’t your thing, you’re probably confused on whether to go with Wordpress or Squarespace. No worries, it’s a super common question, and the truth is that there are big benefits to both. I’ll make it simple…..
I set all my new clients up with Squarespace sites. The interface is incredibly simple to understand, the free templates are diverse, and the design is all drag and drop so you can create something beautiful without having to know a stitch of code. There’s also the ability to optimize your SEO. (While I don’t suggest new businesses invest in SEO because it is competitive, time consuming, and expensive, you also don’t want to work against it with something like a WIX site or by not adding alt tags to your images.)
Plus, all the functionality is built in so the chance that you’ll need to add plugins are slim. If you find yourself confused, all you need to do is hit Google, because someone has already put up a YouTube video that shows you how to get it done. Most businesses aren’t going to need more than this, so generally speaking, I always suggest Squarespace.
If you do need fancy design or increased functionality, then Wordpress is the way to go. The basics are easy to manage, so if you want to update copy or write blogs, that part is easy to learn. More than likely, you’ll need to hire a developer to manage the rest.
Launching your website is an important step for your startup, and it’s something you’ll want to do sooner rather than later, even if things don’t feel perfect. Above all else, make sure your messaging is clear and the visitor knows exactly what to expect before they even start scrolling. Whether you create an actual lead magnet or offer a free consultation, be sure you have a way to capture an email so you can get ahold of that person at a later date. And lastly, there are lots of options for building websites, but Squarespace is likely something you can manage on your own and it will be a cost-effective solution.
Originally published at https://www.shaunaarmitage.com on May 10, 2019.