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How to Start a Website, Courtesy of a Freelance Writer

Having a strong website is the basis of everything that you as a business do online. It may be the first and most significant touchpoint that customers have, and it will do everything from setting the tone of your brand to informing them about what you have to offer.

Knowing how to actually start a website that gets results, however, is tricky. Many businesses either throw something together quickly or outsource the entire process altogether, settling on “I’ll get what I get.”

Being strategic about your goals for your site and prioritizing core elements like the site design and layout to improve the customer experience, however, are imperative and can directly impact your business success.

In today’s post, we talked to Ana Gotter, a content marketer and freelance writer who has helped many of her clients start new websites for their businesses to understand the process she recommends using.

Ana Gotter, Expert Business Writer

1. Start By Considering Your Goals

Before you do anything (walk away from the WordPress!), you must understand your goals.

An eCommerce business will look very different from a SaaS website, and both will look nothing like the websites that consultants or service providers use to attract and book clients.

website goals

Write down your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your website, and what capabilities do you need it to have? This is your starting point.

2. Have a Visual Brand in Mind

One more step before you actually start with the website creation is to have a vision in mind, to the best of your ability.

Do you have a logo? Do you have a desired aesthetic in mind?

An eCommerce makeup brand might opt for a bold or feminine theme.

visual brand

SaaS brands typically choose clean looks, but they sometimes go for something unique for a heavily branded aesthetic (check out Breadcrumbs as an example of this).

start a website saas

Remember that your visual aesthetic will impact the themes you choose, the photos you upload, the fonts you use, and the logo you create.

3. Choose a Website Domain

Your website domain is the name of your website, and it’s easy to see why it’s important to get this right.

And as for what your domain name should ideally accomplish, this is the advice Ana had:

4. Select a Site Host + Website Builder

The site host and website builder that you choose will depend heavily on the site you want to create and what functionality you want it to have.

A site host and a website builder are technically different, but they often influence each other. In some cases, for example, Shopify is both the site host and the tool you use to create a website. In other cases, you may use a site host (which is the server that “hosts” your site online) like Bluehost or GoDaddy, and then use a website builder like WordPress to build the site you want.

According to Ana, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

When asked what she chose, she said Bluehost and WordPress.

5. Map Out Your Core Pages

Most websites have a few core pages that are essential to converting traffic. Almost all websites, for example, have an “About Us” page, a home page, and a contact page as central parts of their site design and overall navigation. This is true regardless of industry or business goals.

Aside from that, the core pages change.

eCommerce websites are going to have different product pages featured prominently. These product pages typically feature categories of products grouped by use case.

how to start a website ecom

SaaS websites often have product pages that detail key features of their single product, which often includes a video walkthrough and images of the interface itself. They’re also likely to have a “case study” page readily prominent in some cases.

how to launch website

An agency website often focuses on testimonials and case studies, along with key service pages that may detail their methodology and what makes them different.

agency website

6. Consider Site Navigation

After you’ve chosen your core site pages, it’s time to think about how you’ll actually move users through the funnel you’ve started creating.

ana gotter website

Keep people moving through your site. Well-placed links that consider the user’s stage of the digital sales funnel (and appropriate CTAs) make all the difference.

If you already have a site, look at your site analytics. You’ll be able to see common traffic paths through your site thanks to tracking data. Based on that information, you can use this to determine how to optimize traffic accordingly.

google analytics pathfinder

When it comes to site analytics, audience analysis is also crucial. Different audiences will need different information to convert.

website audience analysis
audience interest dynamics
site navigation

If you’re working with a professional development team, take note of their recommendations. They likely have strong UX design experience, which can be leveraged in your favor.

7. Choose a Theme

The outline of your site is now in place, so now it’s time to start fleshing it out.

Make sure that you’re choosing a theme that aligns with your specific needs and functionality, as well as your overall brand look. Read reviews online to make sure that there isn’t a history of the theme not performing well, and always make sure that it’s mobile responsive.

8. Create the Copy

The copywriting for your website may be one of the more challenging aspects for many business owners.

When writing copy, these were Ana’s best tips:

9. Add & Optimize Media

Once your copy is in place, you can start adding and optimizing your media. This includes all images and videos that you’ll share on your site.

how to optimize media for website

There are a few things that Ana recommends brands keep in mind when starting a website:

10. Test Everything & Set Up Analytics

You’ve got your site set up, the copy written, and your images uploaded. It’s easy to want to hit “publish” and call it a day, but there’s one more thing to do first: Testing and analytics.

She also recommends testing your site thoroughly, even if you feel confident that you’ve double-checked the copy twice. This process includes:

11. Launch Your Site

Now you’re at the part you’ve long been waiting for— it’s time to launch your site.

After you’ve had multiple eyes on it and tested it every which way, it’s go time.

As you launch your site, think about a promotion strategy. How are you going to generate traffic to your site?

Ana says that while SEO is a great long-term strategy, it takes a lot of time to build up that momentum and to accrue domain authority. Because of this, you need to have other promotional strategies in place, often including content marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, and paid advertising.

Your marketing team or a third-party marketing consultant can help you here to ensure your success both short-term and long-term.

Final Thoughts

If you want to start your own website, there’s a good chance that you have all the tools and resources needed to do so. You can hire a specialist web development and website creation team— and if you have the budget, that may be the way to go. But if you don’t, like many small business owners, you can take the reigns yourself.

Remember that even if you choose to do the bulk of the heavy lifting, you can always outsource specific tasks, like copywriting or site optimization. This is a great cost-saving measure that gives you full control over your site while still helping you create a top-quality customer experience that gets you the results you’re looking for.

If you need help determining which projects to outsource— and how to find people who can help— this should get you started:

how to build a website
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Ready to keep an eye on your site analytics to see how your new site is performing? Learn how MyTracker can help here!

Tags: web analytics