1) Understand who, what and how—Start by asking yourself three questions: Who are you targeting with your site? What information will those visitors look for when they arrive? How will they expect to navigate your site?
To help you answer these questions, prepare a set of ideal customer personas as part of your marketing plan.
2) Understand how you will use your site—Figure out what it is you want your site to do. “Do you want to sell online, capture new sales leads or simply provide information about your company and products? Maybe it’s a combination of the above,” Brooks says.
3) Decide on a platform—There are two ways to approach building your website. You can create a site using a do-it-yourself platform or hire a website developer to do the job. The DIY route (on platforms such as Squarespace, Shopify or WordPress) can be less expensive at least at the outset and, with minimal expertise, you can to create a basic website.
But it can be much more challenging to optimize the critical parts of your website, including user experience and back-end technical requirements. A website developer may be more expensive, but you will have the benefit of both experience and expertise to ensure your website performs the way you want it to.
4) Set your budget—Set a realistic budget for the project. You can get a sense of the cost by speaking with other businesses, trade associations and professionals you work with. You may also consider getting financing if you don’t have enough cash on hand. Check out this blog post to learn how to develop a budget for your website. Remember a strong website is an investment for your business.
5) Do a request for proposals—If you decide to hire a professional to create your site, get a few different proposals. Ask for references, and check their previous work. Make sure the proposal includes a strategy that aligns with your vision for how the website needs to work. You may also want to include training for your team so you can do your own site updates. And you’ll want to make sure you remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to maintaining access to your digital assets.
6) Develop content—Whether you create your own site or hire someone, you’ll need to create content for your site. It should be interesting and informative—geared to turning web visitors into loyal customers. Think high-resolution photos, client testimonials, how-to videos, a blog and social media links. Keep the language relevant and concise—you don’t want turn off visitors with pages full of text and confusing headlines. Again, think of what your ideal audience will want to see on your website. Read this article for more content creation tips.
7) Update regularly and optimize—Online marketing is a continuous process. In any marketing effort, you have to monitor your data in order to continually improve. You can use digital tools (like Google Analytics) to do this. Regularly check how many visitors come to your site and how they interact with it. You can then use the data to test various types of content and design features to see what produces the best results.