by Will Rogers
When it comes to knowing how to create a website, there’s a lot of information out there. Some good. Some bad. Some just plain ugly. I’m going to give you ten (10) steps for how to create a website that are tried and true. I know, because I’ve tried them and found them to be true! Here we go...
Start by thinking about all the things you want to want to put into your website. Do NOT. I repeat: DO NOT start building your website in some software. Hold your horses. You’re just putting down ideas at this first stage. We’ll get there soon. But you can’t rush this step. It’s critical you start with a plan which starts by knowing what all you want to put into your site.
With your long list from step one, it’s time you focus on the items that matter to others, will generate sales, and—listen to me—not focus on needless information you want to share about yourself. That sounds mean—but it happens.
It’s important to stop and ask what your community and followers need at this stage. This will help you hone your list from step one a great deal. You might think it’s important to share your vision, your history, your experience, and many other things about yourself. But, more often than not, those things don’t generate business.
Protip: Cut most of the ideas from step one that revolves around you. Keep the ideas from step one that revolves around helping others.
Take a look at other websites in your industry, and other industries as well, to determine some of the things you like (and don’t like). This is a never-ending process. But, to get started, here are a few ways to keep track of what you like and what you don’t:
What elements do you like from each of these sites? Keep notes and links to these ideas somewhere. Perhaps it’s a tool like Evernote or another platform, but again, you’ll want to have a running list of inspiration—things you can start on soon—and be able to keep longer-term ideas.
Every site needs an overall layout plan, it’s like your site blueprint. It’s your plan for what you’ll have on your site and where those things will live on your site.
For example, start with your main navigation: Where do your key navigation buttons lead? To your landing pages? Your blog? Your products? Your methodology? You get the idea.
Map out direct pages from your key navigation and other hidden pages. What pages do you need to communicate your vision? This step is where you’ll want to hammer these things out.
This is often known as wireframing your website. Get some paper, the trusty whiteboard, or your iPad pencil, and sketch out your key pages. Start with a list of all the things you want on a page.
Make a small sketch of each of those items. Then, it’s time to prioritize the order all of these items would go in. Finally, make a final sketch of the full page now that you’ve thought it out from every angle.
Make sure you have clear calls to action throughout your website. These are often referred to as CTA’s. Don't miss having CTA's to help monetize your website as well. From every place on your site, you’ll want to help point or pull people to the next step.
Here are a few thoughts related to call-to-action best practices to keep in mind:
Now, it’s time to begin building your website…told you we would get back to this! Happened sooner than you thought, right!
With this step, here are a few things to keep in mind:
With these steps completed, it’s time to launch your site. Yes, it’s time. You won’t feel ready. That feeling means it’s time to launch! : ) It’s a simple click of a button but it sure might feel like a lot more.
Here’s the thing: launch your page (even if you still have things you want to do)—it’s best to simply get your site out there. Remember, you can always improve your site. But, you have to launch it first!
Ask for feedback and testing from a few people after you’ve launched. This is another step that should happen continually. But, it’s good to gauge what others think at this step. Of course, you’ll want to carefully review your site and look for typos, broken links, bad images, and so on. But, at this step, you’ve looked at your site for so long, it’ll help to have new eyes review it for these errors.
Now that your site is live, let’s track engagement for how people are using the site. Now, you don’t have to freak out at this step. Don’t overcomplicate it.
The simplest tool for tracking visitors is Google Analytics. With a few steps, you can embed tracking on your site and start capturing a few key things like:
In a short time, you can be creating content that Google will start ranking you for. You got this!
There are a few rules of engagement to keep in mind when it comes to creating a website and getting more followers. Here are just a few to add to your checklist:
If you do all of these steps and make time to review and improve these items, you’re well on your way to not only have created a website but owning a website that is helpful and thriving—fulfilling its intended goals.
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.