A guide to launching your website in 2023.

As we slide into yet another new year, why not make it your resolution to get started on that business idea you’ve been incubating? Whether you’re looking to sell products online, host events at a local venue, or crunch some numbers as an accountant, you should know that over 80% of consumers research products and services online before making a purchase.  There really is no better time to get started!

To help you get going, we’ve outlined five key questions to get you thinking about your business’s most valuable digital marketing tool – your website.

Question 1: What is your website’s purpose?

The first step to building your website is understanding how it will be used. Knowing the purpose of your website will let you narrow down the specific features and functionalities your website needs to help you hit your sales targets, book memorable events, or fill your schedule with clients for the year.

Start by determining the top two objectives you hope to achieve with your website. Perhaps your site aims to generate online sales and gather new leads, display sortable upcoming events and showcase a lookbook of stunning photography, or provide helpful tax-filling tips and an option to schedule a consultation. Take the time to establish a minimum of two objectives for your site that will be most helpful – and engaging – for your users.

Question 2: Who will use your website?

Are you getting leading-edge culinary tech products into the hands of major restaurant chains, hosting raging ceremonies for enthusiastic Gen-Z couples, or filling annual accounts for local hot sauce dealers? Not all users require the same functionalities.

Identifying your website’s target user before you start designing and developing is imperative. Not all website users navigate the internet in the same way or with the same goal. Your target audience’s needs determine how you’ll build your site’s navigation to enhance user experiences — which ultimately empowers users to perform beneficial actions such as ordering products, setting a date for their big celebration, or getting in touch for a consultation.

Start by analyzing your market and competitors to pinpoint gaps in which you can position yourself. Flesh out your preliminary audience personas based on the ideal users’ geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioural characteristics.

Once you’ve determined your target users, you’ll need to generate user stories by speaking with those most likely to use your website or seek out your services. User stories are short sentences describing your website experience – from your users’ perspectives – based on the actions they want to accomplish. For example, a user story for a business owner seeking product sorting functionalities on an e-commerce website may look like this: As a business owner, I want to sort and compare available items so that I can make the most cost-effective purchase. Your user stories influence your website’s content, functionalities, navigation, and overall experience.

Question 3: What content will live on your website?

The old saying, “quality over quantity,” rings true – especially in the dot com era. Making sure your website houses only the most helpful, valuable, or entertaining content is paramount so as not to overwhelm your users.

Adding personalized features to your website, such as custom filters and categorized areas of content across your site, ensures your various user groups can quickly find the information that pertains to them. At the same time, you save yourself many headaches managing your site’s backend.

A robust website content strategy will support your marketing goals by reinforcing your business’ positioning within the market while providing your users with quality, accessible, and engaging content.

Here’s something to note: the top five organic search engine results – for any given search – account for nearly 68% of all clicks. With that in mind, implementing a solid SEO strategy to organize your content by topic, ensure its visibility and first-page ranking on search engines, and get you the traffic you deserve is crucial to the success of your website.

Question 4: How should you build your website?

We stand by a “do it right the first time” mantra. With a custom-built website, the sky’s the limit regarding design, functionalities, integrations, and expandability. This development option allows you to build your website from the ground up for a truly unique, interactive, immersive, and accessible experience for both you and your users.

Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) is key to ensuring your website has the necessary functionalities, is easy to maintain, and supports your marketing objectives. As of 2022, over 43% of websites worldwide use WordPress (an open-source solution) as their CMS – it may be the right option for your website and its long-term growth.

Compared to proprietary CMS, open-source solutions separate themselves from the bunch with one key advantage: complete and utter freedom in every way. With a proprietary system, the organization or individual who developed it restricts access to the source code – which is precisely where it gets the name. This option limits your ability to tweak the source code in any way that may be advantageous to your website’s functionality.

Here are three aspects your should look out for when you’re on the hunt for a great CMS:

  • Flexible: An ideal CMS allows developers to tweak the source code to their heart’s content – whether they want to scale up or down. A flexible option will also let you build your website with custom integrations and plugins for all your desired functionalities.
  • Intuitive: Your CMS should work with you, not against you. An ideal solution must let you add, edit, draft, schedule, and delete content without challenges. Website maintenance and upkeep should be easy and accessible while requiring as little developer support as possible.
  • Collaborative: When you’re busy running your business, you may need a hand maintaining your website. An ideal CMS lets multiple users work on the website simultaneously. Different permission levels allow you to restrict what content each user can edit.

Question 5: What should you pay to have your custom website built?

Now that you’re ready to pull the trigger and start designing and developing your website, you might wonder what to budget. The answer: it really depends.

The cost to develop a website can vary depending on features and functionalities, design support, content creation, hosting, ongoing maintenance, etc. Whether you opt for a freelancer, a small agency, or a large firm for development, your website could run you anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000+. Note that the cost of your website reflects the customization and functional requirements you require.

It’s worth keeping in mind that – for most of your audience members – your website is likely their first impression of your business. It’s worth making sure it’s a good, long-lasting relationship.

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