Thanks for checking out this article and doing some research before you act. Let's get right into it.
Launching a website in 2021 has lots of opportunities for small business owners, but you must adhere to certain standards in order to survive because the recipe has changed. Taking advantage of the millions of people using the internet majority of the day because of the pandemic requires attention to detail. Before I share the checklist please consider the following:
1. Always seek professional advice.
I have worked in IT for over 20 years as well as owned and operated a business for over 10 years. The best opportunities have come from listening to the advice and suggestion of experienced professionals. Professionals that are more concerned with providing value than slow rolling a sales pitch. As a business owner, I recognize the importance of building an audience and tracking leads to turn them into prospects, but the bottom line is this article is about providing value. That value will cost you time in reading it and effort to apply it.
2. Develop operational cash flow.
There are tons of videos and articles about starting on a show string budget or for free but many of these authors are playing that slow roll sales pitch game mentioned above. The genuine posts do a great job of explaining that the given strategy is just that, a strategy. Shoe string budgets or free to start type approaches are meant to be temporary. Why? Because the business should start to develop some operational cash flow based on the approach. You must have a handle on how the business will make money and sustain itself or else, it's not a business.
3. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate.
Seek out your tribe! There are plenty of people that are running businesses well and there are tons of folks just getting started. Find out where these people are based on your industry and network, network, network. Write a blog article for a peer, or offer help to others and always consider the value being created for others versus yourself.
The Website Pre-Launch Checklist
Brand Message (a.k.a. Branding)
The message a website communicates directly affects results. Without a clear message stagnation is certain. Now, I will admit that branding is a pain point for yours truly as the business has gone through some operational changes over the years. Rest ensure re-branding Just Right Technology has been at the top of the list, but that is for another day. Research, read, research, and read some more before deciding on a path to follow.
Keeping it simple will always be how I always lead with advice and suggestions. Create a message and statement about your business and the offering. Then, make sure that what customers receive is exactly that. Lastly, create a style that matches all of those things i.e. the message and customer experience or expectations. Package it up and sell, sell, sell.
Storage needs will vary depending on the type of business but always consider how to source images, written content and creative process. A huge pain point when reviewing websites is the disconnect between the photos and product/service offering on the site. Every aspect of creating content come with challenges and time restraints.
Every business is different so concentrate on your goals when executing business tasks. All website related task should be implemented in cycles especially content creation. Figure out if media needs to change monthly or quarterly and stick to it. How you source content depends on the industry but I always suggest paying for professional work because you can not substitute quality. Lastly, keep it simple and maintain some consistency and the response will match.
Learning the basics of how analytics work will ensure the messaging is on target, which will create good habits. Knowing when website visitors clicked on a link or where visitors are coming from will tell a story of how your business receives attention. We'll talk about that later on but for now, recognize the importance of learning data analytics as it relates to your website.
The data collected from your website and even social media accounts are the first step to finding out if the website works as intended. Connect the data with your marketing efforts and watch closely as the results shift.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Commit to 1 or 2 strategies that will increase the chances of people finding the website during regular internet searches. As mentioned earlier, SEO is one of those topics that are written about applying on a shoe string budget. I also enjoy sharing free tips that businesses can implement to achieve better search results.
Here are a few terms/phrases you can start with to better understand what is meant by SEO:
There are plenty of things to execute in order to improve SEO but remember, 1 or 2 tasks to start with makes a big difference.
Identify a set of action steps that will grab peoples attention toward the website and repeat. I know it sounds simple but don't you want a simple process? Of course it's not that simple but if you feel like the website is ready, then invite some people over and see what how they behave. No inquires or purchases yet. Well, do not be discouraged, marketing can take weeks to plan and months to implement. Then the results are something else to talk about later, but right in line with everything else please keep it simple.
Wrap everything together with a comprehensive layout and flow that has users gaining value, then taking action. Once you have addressed the previous topics, then apply it to the website design and layout. This ensures that the story leading up to your business is consistent and appealing. Your target audience will reward you for creating value for them in the form of online sales and promotion.