Choose a great domain name
If you’ve done your research before choosing a name for your brand, chances are you’ve already weeded out a lot of names that are already taken online. Your domain name should be unique – not just one letter off from your competitors, but something that can’t be mistaken for another brand. It should include your brand name, because people are naturally going to associate the brand name with the URL of your website. Check GoDaddy for which domain names are available.
If the domain name you want is already taken, try adding a word that sets your business apart. For instance, if you find that the domain www.candlemakers.com is already taken, try something like www.candlemakersdenver.com. Adding the location helps people who are searching for your business know they’re in the right place. If you don’t want to do that, you can contact the owner of the domain you want to see if they’re interested in selling it to you. The GoDaddy search tool above does a great job of giving you prices for domains that are up for sale.
Here are a few other tips for choosing a domain name:
- Keep it as short as possible so it’s easy to remember
- Use words that are easy to spell
- Don’t use hyphens or “the” to set your domain apart from another. If www.candlemakers.com is taken, don’t use www.candle-makers.com. You’re going to end up sending a lot of traffic straight to your competitor’s site.
Go with a reliable hosting provider
There are three major things that website clients are always concerned with, and rightly so: security, speed, and downtime. Picking the right hosting company is the only way to guarantee that you’ve got all three of these covered. Your host is where all of your website’s information is stored, so trusting a reliable one means that your visitors can browse your site securely, your site responds quickly to users, and it functions the way it’s supposed to, all day every day.
Need help deciding on a hosting provider? We recommend SiteGround & Kinsta for extra power or large sites with lots of visitors. Check out all of our resources we recommend here – plus, some have discounts! 🙂
It’s a good idea to do some research before choosing the hosting provider that’s right for you. If you’re not so tech savvy, then look for a provider with 24/7 customer support so that someone will always be able to help if things go wrong. And just like shopping for goods online, compare reviews of your hosting options to see which has the best client feedback. Like anything else, hosting is mostly a “get what you pay for” deal. You can get by on the cheap, but you may experience some downtime or security threats along the way, both of which can ultimately cost you time and money.
Map out your site for a smooth user experience
When it comes to website design, there’s one thing that’s more important than anything else: the user experience. Check out these key components of a smooth user experience:
The flow of your homepage
When a visitor lands on the homepage of your website, they should be taken on a journey. The page should have a natural path for the visitor to take – tell them the most important information first, tell them a bit about who you are, elaborate on what you can do for them, then give them a chance to reach out to you.
You don’t want people to just come to your homepage and leave. You want to use the homepage to spark their interest in everything you have to offer. If you do a good job of that, they’ll want to check out the other pages on your site. So make it easy for them! Break your site into simple categories and give visitors plenty of opportunities to explore them.
Establish a visual system
The way you display information on your website should tell your audience what’s most important for them to know. Using a larger, bolder font for headings tells them to pay attention to what comes after. Using a bright accent color to highlight certain information calls attention to a special offer or service. And well-placed buttons give visitors an idea of what they should do next.
Don’t get too wordy
The writing on your website should be clear and concise. Even if you’re in a technical industry, use words that the average Joe can understand. Use headlines that will grab a visitor’s attention and text that they can easily digest.
Opportunities for interaction
Every page of your website should have a way for visitors to interact with you. There should be contact forms (or contact buttons that lead to forms) in convenient locations, and links to all your social media accounts in the footer of your site so people can engage with you on a daily basis.
Content is king
A website without content is like an empty house – it looks interesting from the outside, but no one wants to spend time inside it. If you want visitors to come to your website and stay long enough to learn about your business, you have to give them valuable content to explore. Articles and blog posts are the perfect way to keep people interested in your site and build trust by showing them that you know your stuff.
So what does it take to create good content?
Keep it simple
Use words that a broad audience can understand. Remember that websites are usually scanned, not read. Create content that’s easy to understand for someone who’s just glancing over it before they decide whether it’s worth reading in full. A great way to accomplish this is to create visual content like infographics instead of huge blocks of text.
Cut to the chase
Tell the audience what they need to know without burying them in details. Create content that inspires action – tell the reader what you know about the problem they’re facing, then give them clear direction on how to solve it. It won’t do any good to tell them about your knowledge if you don’t tell them how it can make a difference in their own lives.
Employ SEO best practices
For those who don’t know, Search Engine Optimization is how we make websites more discoverable in search results from sites like Google. Every part of your content can – and should – contribute to your site’s SEO. A page’s URL, title, description, headings, keywords, and links are all a part of the big, bad mechanism that is SEO. Learn more about SEO for your startup HERE. (Link to SEO for Startups article)
Never stop publishing
As with branding, consistency is key. Once you’ve started creating content, you shouldn’t stop. Keep publishing new, interesting content so that when visitors come back to your site, they can see that you’re actively keeping up with the business. Publishing consistently will also help when it comes to showing up in search results. Google loves fresh articles and blog posts!
Use visuals (graphics, photos, and video) to accompany text
Blog posts and articles that contain graphics, photos, or video perform much better than plain-text content. Given that our attention spans have gotten shorter and our time is more precious than ever, visual content is the best way to keep your visitors coming back. Still not convinced? Take a look at the numbers from Hubspot:
- The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than it takes to decode text.
- Posts can receive 94% more views if they feature compelling visual elements.
- Visual content in an article can lead to a 37% increase in engagement from your readers
- 26% of the smartphone users worldwide watch video online every single day
Display your social proof
What is social proof? Wikipedia describes it as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”
How can you apply this to your own website to create trust in your brand? Take a look at some of the most common – and effective – ways that startups use social proof to turn leads into paying customers:
Clients or businesses you’ve worked with before
If your brand has ever collaborated with another recognizable brand, it’s a good idea to include their logo and show off your relationship. If a high-profile client has ever come to you for help, showing visitors their logo and showing off their satisfaction makes a good impression.
Customer testimonials or reviews
In the early days of your startup, encourage all of your clients or customers to write an honest review of their experience with you. Pick the best and brightest to display on your site so that others believe that they’ll have a good experience too.
Share your numbers
Sharing the milestones you hit as your startup develops is a great way to leverage social proof for your site. If you’ve had 1,000 downloads on a free whitepaper, be sure to prominently display “Over 1,000 Downloads and Counting” on that page to encourage even more subscribers. Any metric that sounds impressive can be valuable – “Using our platform has saved our clients over 10,000 hours of accounting work.” or “Our products have helped over 5,000 homes smell cleaner, fresher, better.”
Building a website is a big project, but there is a formula for success. Make informed decisions upfront, pay attention to the details, and be persistent in putting out quality content. If you’ve got a startup and need help creating a place for it to live online, contact us to get started. We’ll be happy to go on the journey with you.