So you want to get your product/service/thoughts in front of an audience, and you need a website. It’s time to get serious about creating a beautiful website.
When you launch anything , the main goal is to get data. You can’t make anything as great as possible without data. This applies to your website as well.
Data is needed to understand what it takes for you to create and run the website of your dreams. It is important to know who visits your site, and what they do. Data is essential to determine what next.
When launching a website, one of the most common mistakes made by business owners is to start too large and poorly designed (especially for eCommerce sites).
It doesn’t take pages upon pages of content, or fancy designs. You only need a minimum viable website.
Here are some tips to help you build one.
Define your goals
Before you do anything with your website, it is important to determine what you want from it. What are you expecting visitors to do once they visit your website? What are your sales goals if you want to sell?
Although this part may seem counterintuitive, it is crucial to getting your site off the ground.
It is important to define your goals before you start. This will allow you to know what you should look for in the data and whether you are on the right track.
Select Your Platform & Domain
Many business owners feel that their website must use sophisticated tools and platforms in order to do the job. This is not true. A simple HTML template is all you’ll need. You can even upload it to Dropbox for free if that’s what you like.
You can create a website quickly if you are into WordPress or any other website-builder. Wix and Weebly both offer-free plans under their subdomain.
This is a quick and easy way to get your content to where you want it to be. However, you should also make sure to keep your options open for changes (and to track your data).
InMotion hosting offers a quick setup service starting at $99 plus hosting (which is all you will need). It can also be bundled with your domain by companies like Namecheap.
While a custom domain is important, you have the option to change it at any time. The goal is data, not perfection. Get a domain at Namecheap and GoDaddy.
Get Analytics + Goals Setup
Tracking data is the main purpose of an MVP or MVW. You need to collect data to determine what works and what does not. To be able capture this information you will need to set-up analytics and goal tracking.
There are many options but Google Analytics (it’s free) is the best.
It is important to have goals that are based on the actions you want people to take. An eCommerce checkout is essential if you own an eCommerce store. It should have a goal. You must ensure that the entire package works correctly. If you use a minimum viable payment method like PayPal or Gumroad, this may mean just setting the thank-you page redirect.
Make email opt-ins a goal if you are looking for them. You can track any conversion you are interested in using Google Analytics. You don’t need to be fancy like eCommerce sales. You might set your thank-you page redirect as your sign-up goal.
If you intend to market your website (which is a good idea), you should link Google Analytics with Google Ads, and create a retargeting audience using Google Analytics.
Last but not least, you should create a Facebook Ads account. Learn more about Google Analytics.
Create Focus Pages
You don’t have to launch a website with 100 pages, as I’ve said before. You should concentrate on creating a few landing pages that you can convert traffic to your website when you are building a minimum viable website.
Sometimes, you can do this with one page.
Take this website and fix the Electoral College. This was built using a single HTML file that I hosted on a Google Cloud account. I didn’t want to create a website that covered the entire structure of American politics, including all security updates and information architecture. It was just one resource that could be shared. The single page website received clicks and shares from hundreds state legislators through a targeted Twitter / facebook campaign. Mission accomplished!
It is important to create pages that visitors can find and then take action on. It’s awesome if you can do it all in one page. That’s it. You can take more than one route if you have to. Remember to keep it simple and as clear as possible, and focus on the conversion you are trying to measure.
Test, test, test
After you have your website online, it is time to test and optimize. This is where you want to preserve what works and eliminate what doesn’t.
Remember that the 80/20 Principle will apply to everything you do. I have seen many analytics profiles from a variety of industries. Every metric is 80/20 in every case.
- 20% of all sales are made from products.
- 20% of content drives 80% organic traffic.
- 20% of advertising spend generates 80% revenue
Keep your eyes on the 20% that is most important when evaluating your website. Then, expand the opportunities. The 80/20 Principle is a great introduction to the concept. Perry Marshall has a follow-up 80/20 for Sales & Market.
Once you have your website that is minimally functional, it is time to move on to the next step. This is not about more planning. It’s all about taking action. Launching your MVP site is all about getting feedback to help you decide what next steps to take.
InMotion’s Quick Start service or Namecheap’s one-pager will bundle with a domain buy.
You need to attract people to your website and encourage them to take action to get the feedback. To get started, check out this guide to promotion of your website.
After you have gathered enough data, you will need to create a permanent website that offers more options. My essential guide for eCommerce platforms, my WordPress website guide and my guide for website builders are all good resources.