DOWNLOAD here: Developing a BRIGHT, TIGHT, Well Optimized Website <--This presentation here was originally presented to the Cultivator START Cohort 3. It was a magical presentation where someone brought up the car I drove in high school and my Moms giant stick-on Parrot I put on the back window. THAT’S the thing they remembered about me from high school. What a memory.
Things to know before you start building a website
Buy and own your own domain (or get someone you trust to buy it for you). Too many stories of people not renewing their domain and someone else scoops it up. Don’t let it happen to you!
Work with people you trust. If you’re going to hire someone, do your homework, see what they’ve done in the past and who they’ve worked with.
Will they teach you how to update it yourself? Hire companies that teach you how to maintain it yourself.
What are your ongoing costs? Do you have to sign a contract? RED FLAG! Contracts are for phone companies, your website company should trust you.
Can any other company edit it? Is there anything proprietary that they will build that no one else can edit?
Can you or your web company add Google Analytics? This just ensures you or someone after you can help see what people were doing on the website.
10 Tips on Website Strategy in 2022
- Design has diminishing returns. We like a beautiful website as much as anyone but we also like keeping projects within a budget! As Carter would tell you;
“Really good design isn’t going to make someone stick around longer on your website, but bad design will scare them away immediately!”
We design great-looking websites but we understand that the design is merely based on the client’s brand and isn’t the reason people come back to it again and again. People come back to websites for the content on the website, not because of the way it looks. So make sure you can update it with fresh content regularly!
“A beautiful website that you can’t update is kind of like a Ferrari without an engine. Sure it looks good, but that’s not why you buy a Ferrari.”
- What content are you going to put on your website? Stories, about, services, tools, resources, tips, tricks, blogs, how-to’s, video, photos, FAQs, ratings, reviews, contact, etc. Come up with this before you build your website. Dream a little here, what would be on your ideal website?If you want to rank in Google Search results, you’ll want a minimum of 1500 words on a page, at least two photos, and ideally a video. As Elizabeth Gilbert would say;
“Done is better than good.”
Video > Photos > Text
- What are people using your website for? Contact you? To solve a problem? To ask about your services? To fill out a form? Think “skimmers, dippers, & divers” as the three different types of visitors you’re going to get on your website. Ideally, you will cater to each category with a different type of content, validated by feedback and traffic to specific pages.
- How will you get traffic to your website? Social Media is usually NOT the answer. I only say that because we have access to hundreds of website analytics accounts and by a long margin, social media doesn’t provide traffic to websites anywhere near the rate that Google does or even direct traffic (people going specifically to your website from a bookmark or typing in your URL). Generally, this is solved by updating the website with relevant stories, updates, blogs, news, etc. You can’t expect people just to miraculously “show up” to your website like some sort of Angels in the Digital Outfield remake. Nope, you’re going to have to work for your traffic.
- Customer Service matters. Whoever you hire to help with your website make sure you talk to them about after-service. Like after you’ve paid, what’s the service like? We’ve heard horror stories, make sure you can trust them and that they will be in business next year. Things to ask before you hire: When the website goes down, who do you call?
How often does that happen? Are they honest about when their websites have downtime? What do you do for small issues? Who’s updating the website?
- Things you can learn about your audience by looking at your traffic. What Google Analytics can tell you about your audience:
-Type of traffic you’re getting (where they are coming from)
-Demographics of visitors
-Type of phone/computer they are using
-Type of browser they are using
-What people are doing on your website
-How long do they stay on your website
That and so much more. Google Analytics is a free tool. We recommend installing it on your site even if you have no use for it now. You never know when someone may want to know what type of traffic you’re getting or where that last lead came in from.
- How will you keep your website updated? Gone are the days when you buy a beautiful website and set it and forget it. Today, you can update your website as much as you want, and Google likes a well-updated website. Here are some things you can update your website with:
-Blast from the past – Nostalgia is a powerful trigger
-A media mention – Just don’t get all “braggy”
-Something people care about – Causes, Charities non-profits you support
-A “behind the scenes” look
-Something weird, something new, something borrowed something blue.
-A Bonnie Riat post (let’s give em something to talk about)
-Something that inspires you and why
-Someone that pisses you off and why
-Whatever you’re currently learning
- Red flags when developing your website. Here are some things that should give you pause when hiring a website company:
-Using Proprietary Code (will be EXPENSIVE to maintain and keep updated)
-Custom CMS (unless you’re huge, same reason as above)
-If you can’t update it (just NO. A website you can’t update is USELESS)
-Hosting is overly expensive or overly cheap. Anywhere from $20 – $50 per month for hosting is average. Any higher than that and you better be a bank or a hospital!
-Measurement reports don’t compare to any past results (without a past trend we have no idea what the numbers tell us) Always, always, ALWAYS compare measurement reports to past periods or past years. A single snapshot in time should be IGNORED!!
- Things you shouldn’t have to pay (extra) for
-SSL Certificate (Free websites won’t have this included but any company you hire should easily be able to install an SSL certificate for you) at least that’s what Brandon told me!
-Training on how to update it (or at least a Loom video explaining the backend of the website on camera)
- What is success to you? What are you going to measure? Everyone has different goals for their website, don’t be afraid to write yours down. Track a number for a period of time and try to artificially increase that number. You’ll soon learn that website strategy isn’t that difficult, you just have to put in the effort. Publish weekly, or monthly if weekly is too much. Understand what your most popular pages are, and conversely which are your worst pages, and tighen up your navigation.