It would seem that having a website is a must in this day and age. People highly rely on the internet for information they need. They connect with others, listen to their ideas and opinions, and even make buying decisions on even the smallest things such as what color of wallet should one buy to replace an old one.
The internet is a gateway to many possibilities, even for the small business owner or professional like you. Investing in your own website would probably be one of the best things you can do to move forward and be recognized in your industry. However, the cost of hiring a design agency can be expensive and hurt your startup budget. Doing it yourself can help manage your costs. If you are willing to learn and make it your personal project, you can launch one in no time, without breaking the bank.
Have you ever seen a sculpture or piece of furniture that caught your eye? It’s artist or maker had a lot going on before coming up with its final piece. In the same way, people think that website design is just all about having the right platform and tech to use. After all, there are many drag and drop website builders available that offers a small investment you can conveniently pay for every month. However, to design and launch a successful website, you need more than just a pretty homepage.
1. Plan to Succeed
There are two points I want to make clear at the very start. You must know Why you need to have a website and How to go about the process of making it yourself.
Having a website would still entail some costs and if you plan to maintain it continuously, its costs should be included in your business projections. Ask yourself:
- What is my purpose for having a website?
- What kind of information would I like to share?
- Why do I need to share these information? What stage of my Buyer’s Journey am I address? Is it for Awareness, Consideration, or Decision?
- How much information should I share?
- What kinds of formats am I willing to create?
- Will I commit to maintaining my website regularly?
These are just some of the questions you need to answer at the start so you have a good foundation from where you are going to build.
A website is a marketing tool to promote yourself and your brand. It aims to reach a wider audience that you, as an individual, and / or your physical store in a single location (if you have one) cannot reach. Your online purpose is your ally to be there to represent you when you are not physically there.
When people come and visit your site, there are many actions that you want them to make. List these down and from here, decide which one you would like to work on first, then the next and so on. From here you draft your website plans, and everything else follows to satisfy this specific goal.
Do you have a product or service that you can talk about? How do they help your target customers? This is what your website should have a lot of, continuously over time. As you build your relationship with your target customers, so should you build your content to reinforce that growing relationship. Provide a lot of helpful information that will help your customers in using your product or service, promote it to others who can benefit from them, and continuously engage with your brand to be part of their lifestyle.
4. The Buyer’s Journey
How will you capture your target customers’ attention? Perhaps giving them something for free might interest them to spend some time in your website and give more useful information about themselves that you can use to connect with them. Make posts and freebies that will create awareness of your brand at the very first touch point you have with them.
What will keep them coming back? Perhaps you have a better price than the alternative. Maybe you have a buy one, take one offer. It may also be as simple as being able to relate better with you because of your tone and approach in your site. At this stage, you build up your content strategy to make them Consider you as a solution to their needs. Present your best, showcase your features and benefits, provide testimonials, or even ask them to make a small purchase at this Consideration stage for you to know if they are willing to go onboard with you and what you offer.
What will make them loyal? Now that you have developed a relationship with them, it’s time to take it up a notch and nurture it. Consider giving them more in-depth solutions during this Decision stage. These are the customers from whom you have gained trust and confidence. Continue to provide exceptional service and engagement so they remain with you for a long time.
Do you know that there is a scientific study on how people shop in commercial stores? The layout of the shelves and placement of products are made so because they have discovered how their customers shop.
In the same way, you need to provide that kind of user experience to your customers when they go to your website. Choose colors, fonts, graphics, videos and even your tone of speech that would match the kind of customers you have. Identify the stages your customers are in using the above mentioned Buyer’s Journey and create a format that satisfies them. You can make mock ups and gather a few of your customers together to ask them their preferences too. Perhaps a survey will be helpful, or maybe conduct in-depth interviews. Do whatever works for you to help build the website both in terms of content and aesthetics as long as it will deliver your desired customer experience.
You may have a full bond paper with ideas and doodles by now, and it’s a good start. Great things don’t happen overnight. Knowing what you know now, you may think there is a lot of work to do and you may wonder how you can overcome. As your fellow entrepreneur, resilience and perseverance are main traits we possess and I believe that in the same way you have achieved other things in your life, you will be able to work on and finish this too.
Set aside time to work on this project at least 2 hours a day and you’ll see progress. Setup a system of doing things so you can have results every week. If you have a little budget to spare, explore outsourcing some of the work to others or to attend workshops to help you learn a little bit more in the process.
Lastly, if all else seem to fail, remember why you are doing this in the first place. Think about growth of your business and serving your customers. If it means much to you, you will overcome.