Hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is priceless
No one who’s been in business long is a stranger to the cold hard reality of experience. Sooner or later, we all think, Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
A great many of life’s lessons are obvious in retrospect, and the truth is no one is going to succeed if they’re going to let the fear of those inevitable failures paralyse them. So the goal for all of us is to learn from our mistakes, yes, but whenever possible to learn from others’ mistakes, instead.
We at First Site Guide are going to help you out with that bit, by pointing a few of the problems you might not have considered, if you’re going to be starting your first business site.
1.What you need to know about site design
The first thing you need to think about is site design. It’s tempting to put in every bell, whistle, and shiny thing that’s new and trendy in the tech world. Take a deep breath. Then don’t do that.
Form has a place, and that place is the background
There’s nothing wrong with having a pretty site. Your site should absolutely have a clean, professional, feel. Cleaning up how a site looks is fairly cheap and easy, rebuilding a site that looks good but doesn’t do what it’s supposed to is a very expensive proposition.
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Focus on function
What your site really needs to do is whatever it does and that’s it. So if you’re selling something, your site should be optimised to sell things well. If you’re goal is to build up subscribers for marketing purposes, then you should be focusing on your marketing funnel. The point is, you can add functionality for your userbase later, but you’re never going to have a userbase to begin with.
Moreover, if you plan on selling any part of your site or brand later, your prospective buyers will be far more interested in the functional elements of your site than the metaphorical wallpaper.
If customers are confused or tired of waiting, they’ll leave
The painful reality is that users are generally unwilling to wait more than five seconds for a website to load before they leave. So, if your expensive flash video on your homepage is stopping it from opening within a couple of seconds, well, it’s actually driving your visitors away.
The same goes for confusing user interfaces. Your first priority should be making it easy for users to do whatever they’re there to do. If people can’t figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, they’re going to head to Point Somewhere Else.
Yes, that’s simple. Yes, that’s obvious. Funnily enough, almost everyone messes it up on the first try, anyway.
Related: How To Secure Your SME Website
2.What you need to know about content
Content is often overlooked, even by large companies. It’s the sort of thing that’s perennially foisted off on an intern, or tacked on to someone in PR’s workload as an afterthought. That’s a borderline fatal mistake.
Short content is less useful for driving views
For one thing, people and search engines show a preference for thorough, well-organised, long form articles. For another, fewer people link to the shorter articles. So you’re looking at fewer organic views, and fewer referrals compounding your troubles.
Strong content is better than no content, no content is better than weak content.
Keeping a dependable schedule is a good idea, but not at the expense of quality. At the end of the day, strong content is better than no content, but poorly-written, incomplete, or overly generic content will not just fail to bring in subscribers and repeat viewers in many cases, but cost you subscribers in the long term.
Better, by far, to establish a sparser regular schedule of quality posts, than to try for the optimum number of posts, but fail on quality.
3. What you need to know about social media
Social media isn’t exactly the “next big thing” anymore, but it’s pretty well cemented itself as a big thing for the foreseeable future. There are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when getting ready to jump into using social media for website promotion.
It takes some level of expertise to do right.
Some people are good at social media, some people are bad, most people get better with experience. Most social media accounts out there don’t attract very many followers, and so their impact is limited. You need to have someone onboard who can expand readership and avoid costly missteps.
Expertise costs money and/or time.
Expertise doesn’t just come out of nowhere, though. You’re either going to need to pay a specialist or invest your own time (or an employees) in developing expertise.
For that reason, you might consider which social media platforms you want to utilise at all, and whether it might make sense to specialise.
You might not need one of everything.
So, rather than just creating a gross or two of social media accounts, bundling them up, and assigning some random person control over them, you might consider what you intend to gain from each social media site you want to create a presence on.
We’ve established that social media is going to represent an investment. Why invest in something without a plan for eventual payoff? You might still want to snag your company’s name by creating accounts, but that doesn’t mean you actually need an active account on every social media platform out there to succeed.
There are drawbacks to social media.
Huge drawbacks. For example, handing the new intern the Twitter feed might seem like a good idea, but, well, it’s not. In the hands of someone who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of social media, Twitter is, at best, going to be a net wash for your company… and a single malicious or unintelligent tweet can be a PR disaster. So, basically, having a social media account in the hands of a novice is a large risk with a low, low, potential for gain.
The challenge is half the fun
Are there potential problems we haven’t covered here? Oh, heck yeah. One of the simultaneously fun and frightening aspects of the ongoing explosion of technology in the world is that there are always new and exciting ways to either get ahead or fail miserably. Which one you do is up to you, up to luck, and, well, up to how well you anticipate the problems which don’t even exist yet. Good luck.