You want to get a website going, but WHERE DO YOU START?  What do you need?

 

This is a very common question that people have when creating a website.  A lot of people will approach this conversation with a discussion on tools and domains and SEO and hosting and Social Media and all the other things most people don’t care to know about.  At the end of the day though, you choose your tools, create the initial site, then stare at the monitor and wonder what’s next?  This is the real question to answer and address.  We will try our best to give you guidance in this article on creating your content.  Below are questions that you need to ask yourself when beginning to create your website.

What is the objective you are trying to accomplish with your website?

People often skip this question because they think they know.  Step back for a moment though and ask yourself, what is the goal of the website.  Write your answer down and really think about what you need to accomplish that goal.  You will often find that the content you couldn’t decide on before becomes very clear when you know what the overall goal is.  Below are some examples of sites and what the need is:

Example 1: I just created a product and would like more learning about my product and eventually cause the consumer or business to purchase product from me.

The first question you should ask yourself with a product company is, “Who is your audience?”  Do you want to target other businesses or are you targeting consumers?  These are two very different groups of people. 

If you are targeting a consumer then you want an easy and simple shopping experience.  Consumers want to see the product, the pictures, interaction with the environment you would see the product in.  They are also interested in what others think about your product.  You want to create an environment where there is interaction with your customers so Social Media is important.  In this case, I would suggest Instagram as a mechanism to show off your product, but Twitter and Facebook also have great environments to work with.

If you are targeting other businesses to sell your product than e-commerce is not always the right solution.  You want to think about what those businesses want and what you want them to do with your product.  If you are planning to sell the products to that business, then you will definitely want e-commerce targeting their needs and their order quantities. 

If you are looking for retail shops to sell your product, then the site needs to be.  Questions they would ask would be.  Why should I sell your product?  How do I contact you to deal with issues or more orders?  Is the product a quality product?  If it’s a consumer product, do consumers like the product?  What is the customer support like?  Building your website to cater to this group is very particular and specific.

Some examples of sites targeting consumers and businesses:

Example 2: I am a student and just want to promote myself.

Lots of people create websites to promote themselves.  Whether to promote consulting or just to tell a story, think about what your objectives are.  Most of the time with self-promotion, a blog is almost mandatory.  Because it’s a discussion about yourself, what you’re doing or what you think is interesting, the blog is a chronological dialog of that very thing. 

Maybe you want to keep in touch with family or friends while traveling.  Or maybe you love movies and want to talk about that.  There are even cases when you are creating a website about yourself so you can land a job. 

These are the best sites for us, because they can be so fun and creative.  There are no hard and fast rules here.  Think about what would make people want to read your site.  Keep it light and fun, include pictures, perhaps a photo gallery or YouTube videos.  Provide relevant links to keep the conversation going.  If you build enough of a following to your site, include commenting so you can interact with them.  Tools like Disqus or Facebook comments are perfect for this.

Some examples of sites self promoting:

Example 3: I have a local service business and would like to have a presence for people to be able to find me.

If you have a service business and would like to get more people to come to you, think about what your customers are looking for when finding your service?  If you are automotive, people probably want to know where you are, what your rates and services are and how long service will take.  Providing a reservation service would probably be helpful here.

If you are a mountain/road bike shop, what products do you sell, what services, locations, etc.  Also, a lot of customers for service related websites will likely visit your site from a mobile device.  It’s very important for you to engage and get them to reach out to you and having a mobile presence while on the go will drive more traffic to you.

Some examples of service:

YOU NEED A GAME PLAN.

When you want to make an elaborate dessert, do you start adding ingredients on a whim and hope for the best?  Probably not.  The same idea goes into building any kind of website.  You need a recipe or a basic outline to follow to get the best results. 

When you’re putting together your dessert, you first look at your recipe to see what you’ll need, and how much of each item.  You may not have all the ingredients right away.  Perhaps, you will need to go to the store to pick up some last minute items.  And what about your measuring tools?  Do you have the sifter, measuring spoons, and mixing bowls? 

NAVIGATION

Again, a website follows the same concept.  You will need to know what is required to make the best site for YOU!  Not every website needs a testimonials page, or an about us page.  Some people want a simple one-page site.   Others want a very hefty navigation bar.  Think about what you want your users to know about you, your services/business, or the lack thereof.   What do you want their user experience to be?

Items to Buy:                    Items For Your Site:

Milk✓                                 Home Page ✓

Sugar                                 About Us

Flour ✓                               Pricing ✓

Eggs                                  Testimonials/Blog ✓

Vanilla                                Contact Page

Once you’ve decided on what you want your navigation (or menu topics) to be….do you have the content you need? (measurements for your ingredients)

CONTENT

If you don’t have all of your imagery, don’t fret.  CONTENT. IS. CRUCIAL.  Imagery is important.  When you have content, imagery should easily follow.   Content assists in knowing how your layout will look.  It will also help in creating stronger SEO.  Google can’t track images.  But keywords will help you get found online!

Once you have the content and imagery you need, there is just the matter of putting your website ingredients into the site.  Again, knowing who your audience is- is key!  If you put too much or too little into a page, it may be a turn off.  It’s good to ask those around you to be critics for you.  An extra set of eyes is good.  You wouldn’t want to serve your dessert to a large group of people without making sure it’s tastes good.  Let several people check out your concepts to see if they flow and make sense before making your site live.  You want your site to make sense as soon as they see it, and know exactly what your want to relay to them. 

CALL-TO-ACTION

Now that you’ve got your navigation and content figured out, you want to find out who reached you!  Make sure you have a call to action on your site.  What that call to action is, is up to you.  You may want people to BUY NOW, sign up for a free trial, or fill out a form.  You want a way to get a hold of them again!  Making sure you have a call-to-action on at least one page will help get you in contact with them in the future.  Repeating your call-to-action will more likely result in the action you desire. 

PLUGGING IT ALL TOGETHER

You’ve got your recipe ready to go!  You have the tools you need to make the perfect website.  But where do you start making it? You could always pay someone else to make your site, just as easily as you could go to a bakery to buy a dessert or ask someone else to make it.  But with that comes some risk. You may not know all the ingredients or how they made it.  So when you walk out that door, you don’t have any control of what’s inside.  You don’t want to have a site that you can’t control.  You may have heard someone hold a site hostage. Unfortunately, it does happen from time to time.  Only YOU know what is best for YOUR site.

There are a lot of wonderful CMS solutions out there to keep your costs low.   Doing some research on what capabilities each CMS tool has will make it easier to decide. You want to sell products?  Do you want your site to look great on all devices?  Do you want to be able to create functional and attractive forms on your site, so you can reach your site visitors?  SquareHook offers solutions to all the above needs you may have for your site, and many more solutions to creating a beautiful, easy to use website.

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