I love lists and will use them a lot in this short guide.
First, why do you need a website?
Advantages of taking your business online
- You will tap into a wide market
- Running an online business is relatively cheaper as you don’t need an office in the CBD to be trusted
- Easy communication with your customers
- Lower operational costs
- You can hire remote staff
- You can manage your business from a beach in Hawaii ;-)
- Websites allow you to build more trust, a business with a website is more trustworthy
- Getting a website allows you to compete favorably with other businesses that have already gone online
- You can use a website to educate your customers, informed customers are loyal
- Pairs well with Google Maps, appearing in Google maps search results helps your business. If a listed business has a website, people can easily learn more about it
What You Will Need to Launch Your Website
The list below includes all the basic requirements of launching a website
1. Your preferred domain name
When buying a domain, consider the scope of your market.
For example, if you will be running an international business, purchase a .com, .net or .org.
.com is the most common and when you tell someone your domain name, they will always default to typing www.yourwebsite.com as opposed to the other extensions. For that reason, I always recommend a .com.
Is your target market just within the borders of your country? Then choose a .co.yourcountry-prefix. For example, yourwebsite.co.us for USA, yourwebsite.co.uk for United Kingdom, yourwebsite.co.za for South Africa, yourwebsite.co.ke for Kenya or any other local domains in your country.
The extension of your domain helps or damages your business since it affects how well your website performs in search engines per given locations.
How much does a domain cost? It depends with the registrar of the domain. However, the common domains listed above cost between 10 USD and 15 USD for the first one year and then a recurring annual renewal fee of 15-20 USD.
2. Brand Design
You will need to get a logo. It’s a habit to place your logo at the head of the website. This is important to adhere to because people are used to. Therefore, have a logo designed for you or design it yourself.
A logo costs anything between 100 USD to 1000 USD depending on a number of aspects such as the experience of the designer as well as the amount of work that goes into the design.
Before your logo is designed, you will need to choose proper brand colors.
Always go for a simple logo that can look cool on almost any background. That means that you should use a minimum number of colors, say a maximum of 3 colors.
Ask yourself: if you were to take away all the colors of your logo, will it still stand out?
Most company logos are made of 2 colors.
Also consider a catchy tagline or slogan.
These brand elements are all you will need as far as branding of your website goes before launch.
3. The Content You’re Going to Post on the Website
Content can be static or dynamic.
Static content is for instance the description of your company, its contact information and location, terms of service and the like.
Dynamic content is for example a catalog of products and their pricing information, News, announcements etc.
The static content is essential before you launch your website.
It is important to think about both the dynamic and static content at the beginning in order to exhaust the features you will need on the website.
Thinking about content before the design will let you provide helpful information to your designer/developer.
4. The Website Design
This is just a simple picture or a quick demo of your website with dummy content. The Photoshop design of your website gives you room to tweak your idea. In fact, you can start designing your website by sketching it on paper and then polishing it using Photoshop or giving the sketch to your designer to fine tune and take care of the details. Always make sure to be part of the design process in order to get exactly what you want.
Be armed with a checklist of all the important features of your website as you go on with the design.
Remember: To get an excellent design, you will have to think about the features, the kind of customer you are targeting as well as how you will take them through the customer journey from the time they visit your website until they buy from you.
5. Website Development
After you have prepared your branding elements and you are ready with a website design, find a good Web developer.
During the development phase of your website, stress on the following aspects:
- The speed of the website should be good
- Adherance to latest web performance standards and technologies. This includes mobile support and considerations for weak network connections
- Ease of updating content and hosting the website
- Portability. That is, make sure you will not be tied down to a single Web host but are be free to choose any host and transfer your website with no major problem
- Security of your website and of user data should be considered from the beginning
- Ask for a good documentation of all the features for easy website management
After the website has been developed, you should ask someone with more technical knowhow than you to go through the whole project. You won’t need to go through this if you trust your developer and have seen other projects they’ve worked on.
6. Web Hosting for your New Website - How Much Does it Cost?
Hosting a website can range from 25 USD per year to more than 1000 USD depending on the complexity and features of your website.
The cost will also depend on the technologies used to design the website and how much traffic you are expecting.
For example, a simple agency website will cost you 25 USD per year to host if the website is static(more details coming) even if you are getting more than 500 visitors per day.
However, if the same website uses a bulky Content Management System (CMS), you will end up paying the 25 USD per month. 🤔 Just think about that for a moment.
An ecommerce website with thousands of pages and thousands of visitors per day can easily spend more than 1000 USD per month on hosting.
My advise is that if you expect to get more than 100,000 visitors per month, choose an on-demand service like Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services. These platforms bill you depending on your traffic/server resources consumed. Another advantage is that these platforms can scale to support a million visitors without any downtime or noticeable performance degradation.
With the above list taken care of, you can launch your website!
Bonus 1. Setting Up Custom Email - eg firstname.lastname@example.org
Most hosting packages come with a given number of free emails. Some even offer you the chance to create unlimited number of emails for your domain.
Some email hosting providers are:
- Gmail - Google can host your custom email addresses and you will be lucky because you will be using the familiar Gmail user interface. Also, Gmail can be accessed from any platform. This makes it very portable.
- Zoho Mail. This one offers limited emails for free.
- Your web host. This is the best option. When you have purchased a hosting package, you will be provided with a quick login guide that will help you set up emails and host your website. Don’t worry, we handle this for you if you need.
Bonus 2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Checklist
SEO is the process of making your website rank well in search result pages. For example, if your website is about business X and someone goes to Google Search and types something related to your business, if it turns out that Google provides a link to your website among the results, you are safe.
If however when a user types X and you don’t appear for the search term, it is said that you need SEO.
SEO helps your business. In fact, most traffic comes from search engines. There are great ways to make sure you rank well on Google after launching a website so that you can take advantage of this huge traffic.
Here is the SEO checklist:
- Making sure your website is fast. Search engines prefer fast websites.
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly. Mobile friendly sites now command better ranking thanks to the shift in how people access the Internet.
- Make sure content on your website is original. If you are selling something similar to your competition, don’t copy even the product description. You will be penalised because search engines always know the original source.
- Make sure that all the pages of your website have appropriate meta tags.
- Provide a sitemap of your website to the search engines. Use Google search console to submit the sitemap.
- Market your website on social media. The more the visitors you get, the better you will rank as this will be sending positive signals to the search engines.
- Make a progressive website. Read more about PWA. These are the websites of today!
- Avoid heavy websites. Optimize your images.
- Test your website using Google’s PageSpeed insights. You will have an idea on how to improve performance of your website.
- Sign up for Google Analytics and track the performance of your website. Google will tell you which pages of the website are performing well and which are not so you can take necessary steps.
- Link to other pages of your website. For example when you post something new, make sure to link to a related resource within your website.
- Avoid external links, unless it is necessary and make sure to use no-follow tag. External links are links to other websites.
- If you have a blog attached to your website, serve it from a subdirectory for example yourwebsite.com/blog/ as opposed to a subdomain like blog.youwebsite.com. This consolidates all the links to one domain.
- If you post content regularly, consider implementing AMP pages. These are featured on Google search and load super fast.
- Use HTTPS everywhere! This cannot be emphasised more. It’s safe for you and for your customers.
- Always use relevant keywords, naturally.
- Allow user comments on your website. Repeat visitors boost your rankings.
- Make your website engaging by improving the design to be more delightful to use.
- Most certainly you’re an authority in your area of business. Share your knowledge on the blog. Helping people improves their loyalty towards your business. It’s a win-win. More loyalty means more repeat customers.
- Use more content types. That is, Videos and images.
Bonus 3. Google Webmaster and Google Analytics
In order to keep track of the traffic to your website and be able to optimise various aspects of it, data is king. Especially today.
Where do you get accurate website traffic data?
You get excellent website traffic analysis from Google Analytics.
Remember Google knows the origin of most of the traffic streaming to your website. Therefore, you can understand your market and also know how to target them to improve your results.
Also, the data you get will be a good start to know what strategies are working and which are not working.
Say you notice that most of the website traffic is coming from Google Search. You will note down the search terms and then use this to optimise your website even more.
If on the other hand you realize most of the traffic is coming from Facebook, you will make sure to direct your efforts there.
Search Console - Google Web Master
This is the place Google let’s you customise how you want it to look at your website. For example, you can request indexing for certain pages and you can also see if crawling gives any errors. You also get the opportunity to submit an xml sitemap to help Google index your website neatly.
Google search console also gives you recommendations on how to improve your website in order to improve search presence.
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