What to consider when building your website (for start-ups)
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
How to create a website for startups
You’ve landed the funding and are ready to sell your service or product. But how do you cut through the billions of websites to get your online presence in front of your customers? It all starts with how you’ve built your site.
But before you even start considering building a site, refer to your Comms framework. This will help you focus your site on key foundations: your business objectives; your audience/target market; your key messages and a call to action.
You can read more about how to create a Comms framework in our blog.
Secrets of the best startup websites
In early 2021, it was estimated there’s around 2 billion websites - around 400 million of these are active. This still means there’s a lot of competition in the online sphere so ensuring your website is built properly will give you a head start over some of your competitors who simply throw together some words and pictures and send it out into the world. Here’s some top tips on what you should consider when building a website for your startup business.
Consider your user journey
While the purpose of your startup website is likely to achieve sales or qualified leads, as you steer the direction of its build, you need to keep the user at the heart of your design and functionality. Is it easy for your potential customers to find what they’re looking for? This can be aided by clearly signposted menus (in easy to understand language) and a search function on the site.
Look at your competitors’ sites, as well as those from other sectors, as if you are a customer: What do you like about the sites? What don’t you like? How are products grouped and surfaced to the user? What choices do you have for contacting the company?
If you’ve already been trading, drill into your customer journey: what are they looking for when they buy from you? Like your company itself, your website should help customers solve a problem or fulfil a want or need. Don’t think of your site as an insider; look at it as a customer - both those familiar with your brand and new to it.
Build a responsive website
A responsive site simply means your site works equally as well regardless of what device a user is viewing it on. Mobile continues to grow globally as the preferred method for accessing websites: global web traffic in 2020 was 68.1% on mobile (up from 63.3% in 2019), with desktop driving 28.9%. As mobile phones grow in size, tablet traffic is diminishing - down to just 3% in 2020.
Depending on your industry, the anticipated split of desktop to mobile will vary, along with user behaviour around browsing versus booking (many industries see mobile use high during the ‘looker’ phase of a buyer journey, with users switching to desktop to finalise payment, particularly for large or high value purchases such as holidays, furniture or bulk buying).
Designing your business website
A consistent brand presence is essential for visually communicating your company’s positioning. And everything you do online - from your own website to your social media profiles - should carry through the tone and feel of your overall brand guidelines. But what you may have designed for print - or off-line use - won’t always work online. Print and web have different design principles, centered on small but important differences in how digital displays fonts and images, and how your user approaches and interacts with your content.
Don’t be afraid to take chances and mix up your colours or your language to better suit the more transient view you’ll get online compared to a print product. Online copywriting is a modern art form - content needs to address your audience, portray your business’ value, and include keywords which will drive new customers to your site.
Consider how a user would navigate through your site - the cleaner the design, the clearer the menu choices, the more likely people are to stay on your website for longer and explore more. Essential pages include a Home page, About us, Contact us and a Blog - the latter gives you the opportunity to feature content which helps build a community for your brand and tap into constantly evolving trends and news to help your site be found online.
These are the nuts and bolts of your site, and will help you build a high performing website.
Domain name: hopefully you’ve considered this when you’ve thought about your company name, as being able to match your company name to your domain name is one of the easiest and most important SEO wins you can have. Consider your preferred extension - that’s the final part of your URL such as .com, .co.uk, .travel or .agency: as the internet has expanded, more extensions have become available but not all are created equal. Search engines prioritise .com which is why it’s often the most expensive. If you have a unique name that you want to protect online, or are doing business in multiple territories, consider buying more than one extension - such as .co.uk for UK use and .com.au for Australia.
Your web host: just like many purchases in life, cheap isn’t always the best value. Look into outage time of web hosting companies. If your site is down, your search ranking will be downgraded as search engines such as Google and Bing will deem your site unreliable. A reliable service, a company which provides a backup (a handy ‘fall-back’ in case your site is hacked!) and a good reputation for customer service should be your priorities.
CMS provider: CMS - short for Content Management System - is a fancy way of talking about the back-end of your website. Today, there’s plenty of ‘off the shelf’ providers with easy-to-use CMS functionality such as WordPress, Wix and Drupal. They each offer templates for do-it-yourself design, but for a more tailored site with enhanced functionality and design, you should work with a specialist web designer who can create a unique design in one of the existing CMS providers or - more common for bigger companies - create a bespoke CMS system.
Analytics: an essential part of understanding how your site is performing, ensure you have an analytics programme running from day one you go live. The big names such as Google and Adobe provide indepth analytics add-ons, and as long as you comply to your local cookie governance standards, you are still able to collate information about your visitors’ online journeys. Set up goals to gauge the end result - how many customers buy or complete a contact form. This will help you refine your website and marketing strategy over time as you can see which channel is driving traffic but also driving results.
SEO: This is a wide-reaching field and doing it right is essential to your site being found by search engines and displayed to people looking for information on your company, your products or your area of expertise. Do your research before a site rebuild - think about what your buyers would type into a search engine, then think again. Use keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Rank Tracker to gauge the volume of different search terms - including negative keywords which will help you reduce your website being shown to irrelevant customers. Everything on your website will impact your SEO - from the domain name and page titles, to copy, image tags, load speed and more. This is such a diverse - and ever evolving - field that we recommend you consult one of our experienced SEO specialists.
Building a website for your startup business will help your existing customers engage with you, and - if done correctly - can help new potential customers find you. With careful planning, you’ll have the basis for an effective online ‘shop window’ for your business.
To keep it up to date, conduct regular audits on the customer journey (reviewing your analytics), ensure your products and positioning are still correct, and post regular informative and entertaining content to your blog. This will let search engines and the online community know you are an active business, and drive further online users your way.
For help in designing your website or boosting an existing website’s SEO performance, get in touch with Haynes MarComs.