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The definitive guide to launching a successful website

By Darren Carlin in Hints and Tips on November 2nd, 2019

So you did it! You made the leap—came up with a great idea, done the research on your market & target audience, written a business plan, and started a business. 

Now you need a website. But how does your business plan translate to a successful web presence? In this guide, we are going to outline some important prerequisites that are guaranteed to set you on the right path for a successful website launch. 

Launching a successful website isn't that difficult, but it's certainly a task with lots of moving parts, and does require some forethought—but there's nothing involved that's more difficult than actually setting up a business itself. So don't worry, we'll break it down into easily digestible chunks for you. 

What do you need to know? 

The Website.

There are a few basic requirements to think through in setting up a website and these include:

  • Coming up with a domain name

  • Choosing a hosting service, so your website can live on the internet.

  • Email (you shouldn't use personal email on a business website).

  • Any specific features you want on your website? 

  • The number of pages you'd like your site to have (home page, about page, etc)?

  • What's your budget?

  • What are your main goals?

There are a myriad of ways you can tackle these planning-stage requirements, but at dazzle works, we eliminate that chore for you by establishing your hosting service and email address ourselves using top-of-the-line cloud-based solutions. The only decision you'll need to make as our client is the domain name.

Domain Name

You'll want to choose this carefully, especially if your first choice is taken. A good general tip is to first look up your business name e.g "Golden Unicorn Bar" which would translate into:

www.goldenunicorn.com

What if that's taken? In that case, you could try:

www.goldenunicornbar.com

What if that's also taken? How about this?:

www.goldenunicornbarwaterford.com

Try to keep the domain name specific to your business and its location. Google brings back search results based on URL information, so having a domain name with "bar" and "Waterford" will help you rank better when people search for those keywords.

Features

Having interactive features on your site will improve user experience (UX). On our site, we have a quote calculator to inform people about the costs of different webpage functions. Do you need something similar?

Pages

The number of pages on your site will depend on the type and size of your business, as well as your own personal preferences. If your business has a lot of detailed information, such as a large catalogue of products or lots of different services offered, it is better to break them up into sections or pages. If you run a simple restaurant or cafe, you probably don't need as many pages.

Budget

What does your budget look like? We pride ourselves on being able to work within any budget, especially for people who are just starting out, or who are perhaps running a small side-business. We also offer flexible payment options to suit your needs. 

Goals

What are your main goals for this website? Do you want to get users to sign up to your services? Buy your products? Get them into your store or cafe? 

Design.

Design is a major factor in the success of a website. If your website has an unappealing design, is hard to navigate, or isn't responsive, you will lose potential customers. 

Web design companies will produce the majority of the design for you, but what should you bring to the table to ensure that you’re coming away with the best design possible and one that you're excited about?

Here are some things to think about:

  • Does your company have an existing brand? Logo, colours etc.

  • What about the vibe you wish to give off?

  • What are your competitors doing?

  • Images are an integral aspect of design—do yours accurately represent your business?

Vibe

Are you a life coach who wants to communicate positive energy? Do you run a gym and need to get people excited? Are you a shop cultivating a sleek atmosphere? These ideas can affect the direction of your design.

Competitors

You should research their brands and websites to give you an idea of what you like and don't like. This is important to know before any design planning begins; you don't want a situation where the website has already been designed and has ended up incorporating elements you don't like.

Images

They bring the design ‘to life' in a sense. If you don't have images, we strongly suggest hiring a photographer who can provide you with some polished images of your business. Whether you own a cafe, a bar, or sell products online, having professional-looking images can be invaluable in convincing potential customers to come to your premises or buy your products. You can use stock imagery as well but be careful. It can come off as cheesy or fake, which users will see right through.

The Website (initial content).

Content is another major factor in a successful website. You want content that's not only well-written and engaging, but which also provides your user with all the information they need to find the answers they're looking for—the quicker the better! For example, it's very common to search up a website in order to find the opening hours for the business, right? We built this website, https://www.makisushirolls.com, for a client who owns a sushi roll stall. Knowing that customers would likely be frequenting this website looking for opening hours, we built in a custom feature UI element fixed to the top of the screen, to tell users immediately whether or not the stall is open. Also, you should strongly consider a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy when writing your content. You can read more about that here. As the business owner, you are responsible for content. However, at dazzle works, we can provide copywriting services for your content if you wish.

Each business is different, but here are some points to get you thinking about content:

  • What are your main services?

  • What is your business about?

  • What makes you unique?

  • What's your main selling point?

  • Contact information and opening hours.

In generating content, you should also consider your demographic when choosing a writing style. Do you want to be formal or informal? Do you want to give off a feeling of positivity, inspire people, or build confidence in your business with your knowledge?

The Website (ongoing content).

Google and other search engines are increasingly rewarding websites with more favourable rankings based on the ongoing content a website provides (so that search results always feature relevant content). The best example of a way to sustain ongoing content would be a blog. Having a blog that consistently puts out valuable content causes your overall website to rank better, putting you above competitors who aren't generating content. 

Here are some examples to get you thinking: 

  • A life coach could post tips & tricks about becoming more focused.

  • A cafe running weekly events could use a blog to inform their customers.

  • A plumber might post troubleshooting guides for basic plumbing issues people can fix themselves.

Every business is different, and some businesses won't really see the need or simply don't have the time for a blog. We always recommend having one, even if you don't want to do the work yourself. There are services and writers out there, including us, who can do the work for you and a higher Google ranking will pay for itself 10X over.

Marketing.

Marketing is essential in getting your website seen by the general public. We currently do not offer fully-fledged marketing services; however, we are knowledgeable about many aspects of marketing and are always available to give some informal advice free of charge. 

Some things to consider:

  • You should have all your social media platforms set up before going live so you can link to them from your website.

  • Consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with Google to get your website more initial traffic.

  • Consider advertising your website/business on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Do you want a newsletter that your users can sign up to?

  • What about a chat-box on your website to answer customer queries in real-time?

  • Conversion tactics, or, are there specific ways you can convince people that your company is the best in the area? What do you offer that others don't or can’t?

Launch.

Choosing a launch date is relatively straightforward. The majority of the time at dazzle works, we'll set a deadline midway through the project after all expectations, features, and design elements have been outlined and agreed upon. It's generally not a fixed date though, so if you need to push it back a week to gather more content, images etc., we can accommodate. However, any extra work performed by us after the chosen launch date that was not included in the original expectations for the project will be considered overtime and be billed appropriately.

Collaborating on a website with us is just the starting point for an ongoing relationship. We like to explore ongoing opportunities, and we build websites in a modular way so that adding extra features down the line is simpler. 

Some examples of this could be:

  • Turns out you love to blog about your business and now have dozens of posts but no way for users to search through them. We can add a search feature.

  • Looking for a new employee? We can add a jobs page for you.

  • Your team is expanding and you would like a page to show off how cool your workplace is with staff bios. We can do that too! 

  • You've decided to start selling some products? Fitness equipment for a gym or coffee supplies from a cafe?

These are possible extensions we keep in mind when designing and developing your website. 

Do you need on-going support? We offer a variety of packages to provide you with a set number of support hours each month. These are useful if you don't want to interact with your Content Management System (CMS) and would like us to add updates for you, or for when you want to add that new feature. Outside of these, we offer hourly rates for the same purposes. 

So, that outlines some of the most important elements involved in launching a business website and should provide you with a good variety of things to think about. If you're a client of dazzle works, answering the above prompts will give us a good idea of the direction to take your website and better allow us to offer further advice to make your website launch as successful as possible. As always, we are here to answer questions at any stage of the process. 

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Author: Darren is the founder and lead developer at dazzle works. He's from Waterford but lives all over, currently in NYC consuming way too much coffee and pizza.

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