When you’re getting ready to launch your own business, there are a lot of things going through your mind. Just when you think you’ve got a plan in place that covers everything, you remember one more thing to add to the list.
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Top 5 things every website needs
Among several other items, your website launch probably has you pretty worked up. It’s not only your home base, but it’s also a major piece of your platform, which will help support your entire business as it grows.
But aside from spending countless hours securing the perfect domain name, lashing out on your designer at least once or twice until you have the perfect logo and site banner, and digging through countless forums in search of advice on “How on earth do I get my WordPress site to do [insert anything here]?”, there are a lot of other important things to think about, like the things every website needs.
It won’t be perfect
Hubert Humphrey said “More progress results from the violent execution of an imperfect plan than the perfection of a plan to violently execute.”
Translation: JUST START!
Yes, there is a lot to think about when you’re getting ready to launch your own business, but the best thing you can do is expect that everything won’t be “perfect”. And in the spirit of taking action and just starting, I’m not here to tell you how to create a perfect website before you launch your business.
What I am here to do is share the top 5 things every website needs, along with recommended resources to help you get these integral things in place.
There is always room for improvement. Just start, and continue to tweak and test things as you go.
Top 5 things every website needs
1. Easy navigation
Being able to find your way around a website could make or break not only your potentially first impression of the site (and the business overall), but also the amount of time you’re willing to spend on that site.
Having an easy to read and understand navigation is one of the most critical pieces of your site. If you’re not making it easy for people to find what they’re looking for, chances are they aren’t going to stick around to figure it out themselves.
2. A clear message
After landing on your home page, your visitor shouldn’t have to guess whether or not they’re in the right place or what the next step is that they should take. Make it very clear what your message is, why your visitor should care, and don’t be afraid to tell them what to do once they’re there.
Make it easy for them to stick around by letting them know you have content, resources, even products and services that can help solve their pain points and that is aligned with their mission and goals, and you’ll not only gain a fan, but also a repeat visitor.
3. Optin giveaway
If you’re looking to launch a sustainable business, then one of your top goals should be to grow your email list. This is your one and only direct connection to your fans and followers that you own.
How do you start growing your email list? Well for starters, you want to have something of value to give away to those who subscribe. This is oftentimes called an optin giveaway, and it’s a piece of content – an ebook or a guide of some sort – that hits home with your avatar: when they read the title, they want it instantly and are more than happy to give up their email address in exchange.
You also want to give them a compelling reason to stay on your list, so rather than just send them a giveaway and then never reach out to them again, take the time to set up an autoresponder series that introduces your email subscribers to your business. One email a week is a good place to start.
Your autoresponder series might include emails that answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you have to offer them?
- Why should they care?
4. About page
I’m sure you’ve heard this more than once, but it really is absolutely necessary to have a well-crafted About page. As one of the most visited pages on your site, it’s important that your About page speaks to your visitor. This is your opportunity to really connect with them.
The #1 piece of information visitors are looking for when they hit your About page: What can you, your site, your products, and your services do for me?
Seems kind of funny that an About page isn’t even really about you, huh? Well, don’t take this idea too far, because it is supposed to be a little bit about you. You definitely want to make that connection with your visitor and share your personality with them. Some ways you can do this is to include things like:
- Your name and where you live;
- A picture or two of you doing the things you love;
- A blurb about why you started your business/website/blog, and
- Why your visitor should come back to your site instead of going to someone else’s.
Copyblogger wrote a post that’s a great reference both before and after you write your About page titled Are You Making These 7 Mistakes With Your About Page? Check it out to help guide you along the way!
5. Contact page
Of course you want people to be able to get in touch with you! Your Contact page should include an email form (or just an email address they can use to get in touch with you), along with your social icons so people can connect with you outside of your Website.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the top 5 things every website needs, let’s take a look at some recommended resources that can help you get your site into tip-top shape! Just so you know, some of the links below are affiliate links, so we will earn money if you click through and decide to buy.
Recommended plugins for your website
Yoast is a great SEO plugin that helps you easily optimize your WordPress site, even if you don’t know a ton about the in’s and out’s of SEO.
Flare is a great social sharing plugin that makes it easy for your visitors to share your content straight from the top of your posts or in the sidebar as they scroll. Of course, this goes along with actually having your social profiles up and running so don’t forget to add that to the list!
Mini Tangent On Social Media Setup
Whether you have a personal profile page or a business page set up on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others is really up to you. For Facebook, it’s good practice to have both a personal profile and a business page, while on Twitter, it seems to be the trend to just have a single handle that melds the two together. And what’s this G+ thing all about?… Check out this easy-to-follow guide on setting up your Google+ profile!
And if you really want to dive into what Amy Porterfield thinks about Facebook profiles and pages, check out this interview Michael Hyatt did on Unlocking the Mystery of Facebook Profiles and Fan Pages.
Pretty Link is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create short, or “pretty” links for any post or page on your site. Think Bit.ly, but with your own domain name.
For example, if I want to utilize my permalink for SEO purposes, but don’t necessarily want to share a link that goes on for days, then I can create a Pretty Link for that permalink that goes to any extension that I want.
Instead of saying “Hey, check out this post I just wrote on Podcasting: http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/podcasting-brink-explosion/, I can say “Hey, check out this post I just wrote on Podcasting: http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/Fire80”.
The other great thing about Pretty Links? You can track the number of hits any give link gets right on the dashboard of your WordPress site, so it’s great if you want to test how much traffic you can get from, say a Facebook post if you just want to use your Pretty Link there.
Optin Monster is a super easy-to-use lead generation tool that allows you to create really slick looking optin forms and pop ups for your site. Oh yeah: they convert REALLY well, too!
LeadPages allows you to create landing, launch and sales pages with just a few clicks! They have dozens of templates for you to choose from, and they’re the only company out there offering cutting-edge landing pages for things like streaming live Webinars, making your 404 pages actually look good (and serve a greater purpose), and giving you cool dynamic controls for great conversions.
Whether you’re launching a website, getting ready to announce your next book, have a video that introduces your next great product, or you just want people to sign up for your email list, LeadPages has a template for you.
If you have a blog or show notes pages on your website, then having a commenting tool is a must. What better way to build community right on your site than with comments that are not just one-and-done, but ever-evolving?
Disqus allows you to join the conversation easily and seamlessly, and they give you all the tools you need to take your engagement to the next level. Want to receive an email notification when someone posts on your site? They can do that. Want to be notified when someone responds to a comment that you left on someone else’s site? They do that, too. They also help you keep spammers out better than any other tool I’ve seen or used.
Whether you’re putting Disqus on your own site, or using Disqus to join the conversation on someone else’s site, it’s a great way to stay in touch and keep your engagement going strong.
We heart Infusionsoft here at EntrepreneurOnFire, but it’s a pretty robust (and expensive) CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, and it’s not for everyone. I know a lot of people who either currently use – or started out using – AWeber as an email service provider, and they love them. Actually, that’s who we started out with, too!
The great thing about AWeber is they offer an affordable solution so you can start building your list right away.
Another great option if you’re looking for a step up is Ontraport.
WOW! As you can see, there is a lot that goes into launching your website – and your entire business for that matter! Hopefully this list of the top 5 thing every website needs, along with the recommended resources, will help you get your website into tip-top shape for your launch.
What resources or “must-do’s” have helped you successfully launch your website? Share with us in the comments section below!