Define your goals for the website
Why do you need a website? Is it to tell your brand's story? Do you want to use it for eCommerce and online sales? Is it to create qualified leads that you want to walk through the door, such as a restaurant? These are all important things to think about before you even explore the prospects of building a website. It is wise to build a wish list of goals and have micro-objectives that build up to that goal.
Build a site map that funnels visitors towards your goals
What is a site map? That is a great question that the average person might not know, but every website you have ever been on has one. I'm a huge fan of GlooMaps when it comes to creating a site map for a new project. More or less, take what you did in the step above and build them into an online with the goals being most important and micro-objectives being under the goals. Below is a quick example I created for a restaurant. A piece of advice I have for this is to keep pages clean and uncluttered, but give your visitors to the website no more than 5-6 options on where to click next. It should be easy to navigate.
Find a content management system that you're comfortable with
There are a bunch of content management systems out there. Some of the most popular are WordPress and Wix. Obviously, I've chosen to make my website using Weebly because I have brand loyalty with a company that was founded at Penn State, my alma mater. If there are two pieces of advice I have for picking a platform it is make sure you're comfortable using it and that there is a good support community of users facing the same issues and problems. You will find chat boards, YouTube videos and Q&A articles that will answer most, if not all of your questions.
Match your website's look to your brand
A brand is much more than just a logo. It is people, culture, a feeling you get, history and much more. Your website should be a reflection of what a customer should expect when they work with your business. That includes the colors found in your logo; the tone that you most use with customers and have content that best sells your product or service.
An example of this could be a baseball team in a historic stadium. The website could make subtle baseball references like instead of an arrow you scroll around with a baseball and click on bats under the section of the website you want to go to. There can be many subtle and not so subtle references to baseball terminology as you travel through the website. Maybe when you land on the homepage there is a static beautiful view of the packed ballpark to greet you. Also, the text on the website matches the team's colors.
Purchase a short URL that is easy to remember
The fewer total letters, the better. You need it to be unique to your brand and location, but not be a mouthful that someone driving along in their car can't remember. I really recommend that you use a .com at the end of your address, because I think it is the most common ending in comparison to .net or.org or .us or a host of other options. Remember that this will be on most, if not all, of your marketing materials, so keep it simple.
Make sure 2-4 people have access to make changes
This is vital if you have a company with turnover or heaven-forbid an accident occurs that knocks the person that manages your website out. Have a clear hierarchy of who handles the changes and stick to it, but also make sure that you have safety in numbers when it comes to checking email, log-in information and checking your website's analytics.
Build in Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels at the minimum
Speaking of analytics, the first thing you should do to the back-end of your website is install Google Tag Manager. What is Google Tag Manager? Think about it like it is a filing cabinet with all of tracking information for people visiting your website. What is nice about Google Tag Manager is that you only have to put a couple lines of code on your website and you can manage all of your relationships with Google Analytics (which tracks your website visitors), Facebook/Instagram pixels, the ability to re-market to people that visit your website. Setting up GTM goes a long way to building a smooth marketing process.
Populate your website with relevant copy, but keep it simple
You've got your site map built; the content management system (CMS) chosen; the site matching your brand; you've got your tracking code installed; a clear hierarchy of who does what and now it is time to fill the website with content. This can be a mixture of videos, pictures, graphics, copy or audio.
You want to get your points across, but also not bombard your web visitor with so much content that it frustrates them. A good rule of thumb here is to have about 150-200 words on each page of your website. If you decide to go the adding a blog route, which I recommend for search engine optimization purposes, then shoot for 800-1,000 words on those pages. I go into that in another article.
Test your site
Before you start publicizing your new website make sure you try it a variety of settings: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile. In addition to that make sure you know how it works on browsers like Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome to make sure the experience is consistent.
Launch Your Site
Now that you feel confident that all of the above steps are taken care of you can hit that "Publish" button and start getting people to your website, signing up for your e-newsletter, follow you on social media and most importantly spend money in your business. From here it will be about driving traffic to your website so that you can track it and turn it into conversions. From here you will have to decide a marketing budget to determine how to get people to your website or back to your website to turn into conversions. That is where your Google Tag Manager tags such as Facebook, IG or Google Ads comes into play
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.