There’s a saying in the start-up community that if you’re not embarrassed by your first release, you’ve released too late. For our website that certainly was the case! I literally cringe when I look at our old website, and I think what were we thinking?
We’ve learnt that building a good website is a bit of an art-form. There are so many elements and talented people that need to come together and incorporate good design, good copy, good layout, to engage the viewer.
As an early stage tech startup, it’s a constant learning process for everyone and here some thoughts of what it takes of the art-form of putting a website together.
Lesson 1: Build a website with email capture
Studies show that 70% of your website visitors will never come back to your website. If you can get them subscribing to your blog or newsletter up to of which 25% might do, then statistics show you convert up to 50% of your signups over time and eventually get a sale. When we did the first release of our website, we had no idea email was such a powerful marketing tool. In fact we were so busy looking at every other social media platform, we thought very little about our website and how we were going to stay in touch with our visitors. So the lesson here is don’t be like us and only have email capture on your blog, put email capture on other parts of your website too.
Lesson 2: Build a sexy looking website:
So here’s a snapshot from the old website, warts and all for you to see. We were going for the clean, simplistic look; however, the home page told the visitor very little about what we do. In fact, the visitor had to click tediously through about four pages of reading to get any idea what on earth we do. It wasn’t great.
A few months back I came to the stark realisation that our website wasn’t doing us any favours. All the hard work we are doing in the content marketing space wasn’t getting us a lot of traction; things needed to change.
I engaged with a digital marketing specialist Mark from tigertiger.co and, I remember sitting in our first meeting like an open book, so eager to learn. Mark asked me about who I thought were some of my competitors, I rattled off a few names, and then I mentioned I could not understand why they were getting traction and we weren’t. After all, I thought we are building a pretty special product. Mark said to me something along of the lines of, ‘ahhh yes but their website is sexy, yours isn’t! You might have a good product, but you need a good website to sell it. Words I hated to hear, but he was right. Damn it. The car ride on the way back to work was pretty quiet. We had heard some hard facts that needed to be said – even if we did not like it.
So the lesson here, is people buy sexy. Your website needs to look like you are a serious business even if you’re operating from your parent’s garage! People buy sexy, they don’t buy ugly.
Lesson 3: Building a good website is a creative process
Building a great website takes time. Agonising over the copy, images, the flow, the layout, it all takes time. Creating a website is hella fun but what I learnt to save time in that creative process, is even before you begin coding your site get the design nailed down before you begin.
This time around the whole website is being designed before we write one piece of code. Every few hours I would just look over the Sean’s (our designer) shoulder and just openly debate and consult with him how each page looks and feels. The good thing with this approach is twofold. Rather than wasting time if I felt the designer was going off on a tangent, I could steer the process or make suggestions. Secondly, this time around we were not going to waste a minute of the developer’s time until we had settled on the complete design.
Lesson 4: Your website layout & copy is so important:
My advice is to think about your customer. Think, what key questions will there be in the back of their mind, and then answer and address those questions ultimately albeit briefly all on one page. Every time I had a friend look at the old website, I made a note of all the questions they had and reviewed them. I knew the website hadn’t done its job; we hadn’t nailed our copy.
Next, I started listening to my own pitch to customers and kept refining the pitch until I felt I really got my point across succinctly. The last stage was to engagea good copywriter. I gave him my pitch and engaged him to do just one page on the website. The copy came back great and finally I knew we were onto something.
So the lesson here is nail your pitch and good copy will follow. The more succinct you become with your pitch and copy, the more your customers will understand exactly what it is that you do.
As I said, making a great website is not easy but it can be fun and rewarding. However, the main lesson learnt is that if you are as serious as we are about doing business on the web, it so important to get it right. If you are thinking about building a website, I hope I saved you some time and heartache from our lessons.
This article was kindly supplied by Haystack Jobs.