10 Marketing Essentials When Planning a New Site
By Forbes | May 26, 2015
Neil Patel offers solid insights in this post for any company looking to build or rebuild their website. For many businesses, the web experience a potential customer or client has with your brand can make or break the bottom line. Pay attention to these 10 essentials, even if you aren’t in the process of rebuilding yet, take some of these notes to see where you site stacks up. -Sailthru
Creating a website is one of a business’s most important decisions of all time.
You don’t want to screw it up.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can screw it up. And unfortunately, many companies do screw it up.
You can fight a legion of demons on the front end by going into it with your eyes wide open. There are a few things to keep in mind that will spare you heartache, save you money, and allow your business to flourish.
Here are the X things that I’ve learned, seen, and want you to know.
Let everyone voice their concerns.
If someone wants to weigh in on the website, let them do it. You should have a basic idea of who’s involved in the decision-making process. These people are part of the active planning. If there is someone who might need to be part of the process (but you’re not sure), ask them anyways.
You need to get this information sooner than later.
Pro tip: There should be more people providing input than you probably think. Obviously, too many cooks spoil the website soup and all, but it’s better to hear opinions on the front end than to field complaints when it’s all said and done.
Pick a flexible CMS.
“CMS” stands for Content Management System. The CMS is the application that you use to create content, publish articles, organize files, and maintain the website.
Basically, it’s important.
You should choose a CMS that allows you to make changes yourself without having to buy more features or pay exorbitant fees to a developer. I prefer an open source CMS like WordPress, because it’s simple, flexible, powerful, and cost-effective
Hire a great writer early on.
A key person to the development of a great website is a great writer. Be sure that you hire the best marketing copywriter that money can buy.
A good writer possesses the skills to sound good, look good, and make conversions happen. Remember, content is king. Furthermore, content drives conversions. Your website consists of copy, just as much as it consists of code and design.
Your copywriter needs to have his or her keyboard in the action as early as possible, writing headlines, creating descriptions, crafting meta descriptions, and preparing your website for launch.
Put content above the fold.
It’s trendy to use Parallax scrolling and hero images on websites. That’s fine, and I’m all about great design.
Just don’t forget about content.
SEO best practices insist that content above the fold is a strategic way to optimize your site for search engines. The “fold” is the area of the website that is visible to a user without having to scroll. Google and other search engines prefer to see indexable content as early on in the page as possible.
Make some breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are a website navigation aid. They usually consist of small text links near the top of a web page, showing users the path that they followed to reach that point in the website.
Breadcrumbs are a great choice for several reasons, not the least of which is user experience. People like to see where they are in a website’s structure. Besides, breadcrumbs also enhance SEO.
Come up with an expandable structure.
Creating a website structure can be tricky. You know you need categories and flow, but you may not know exactly how to structure things for future website growth
I recommend that you take a longview when creating your site structure. Your website will undoubtedly change over time. If you choose the wrong structure to begin with, you will forever be stymied by lack of flexibility and expansion.
Develop a structure that gives you freedom to expand content, add products, and make changes without being cramped.
Create page titles.
Every web page has (or should have) a title. The title is part of the code
Why does the title matter? Because the title is the single most important component for search engine optimization.
I’ve watched some businesses create their whole website, completely forgetting to title their pages. The site struggles in the search engines simply because the site lacks one of the most critical technical building blocks — the title.
Make sure you’re creating unique and search-friendly titles from the very beginning.
An H1 is an HTML tag that goes in front of a main heading on a website. These are important for the same reason that a title is important. They matter for SEO.
A page should have only one H1, and it should be different from other titles on the website. Your copywriter will prove to be an invaluable resource in developing H1s for every page.
Hire an IA.
What’s an IA and why do you need one?
IA stands for information architect. An information architect helps to make the website easy for people to use. An IA is able to analyze a site through the lens of experience and knowledge of the end user. The IA analyzes site flow, navigability, structure, information flow, and decision-making process.
In working with IAs, I’ve realized that their contribution is invaluable. An IA, especially one who wireframes, can shape a site that is beautiful, seamlessly integrated, effortlessly navigable, and enjoyable to use.
Your IA might be the most valuable member of a conversion optimization team. Solving these issues as early as possible in the process will be a huge advantage to your marketing efforts.
Hire a UX Developer.
I’m telling you to hire someone else? Yes.
I’m assuming you have your developer and designer already in cahoots over the development of a kick-ass website, but I’m suggesting that you also hire and IA and UX developer. A UX developer, also referred to as a UX or UI, is responsible for making sure that users have a great experience on the website.
That’s, uh, pretty broad, so let me narrow it down. Between designers and developers there’s a huge gap of information, skills, and, tasks. That’s the region of a UX developer. The UX is often responsible for creating a website prototype in conjunction with the IA. It’s up to the UX to decide how a user will best be able to enjoy and use the site.
If I had to promote one thing as the most important element in web development, I would say usability. In essence, conversion optimization is really about optimizing usability. Search Engine Optimization, too, is more about usability than it is about tricks and hacks.
A great user experience is the key that unlocks the treasure troves of marketing power. And the UX designer is the one who holds that key.
Hire an SEO.
Unless you have SEO knowledge or a deep bench of SEOs on your team, then I also recommend hiring some help.
I’ve mentioned SEO or search engine optimization several times in this article.
Whereas you were originally talking about marketing, you’re now embroiled in a discussion of xml sitemap-compatible video notation metadata
And it matters.
Even though search engines have come a long way since the early days, it’s still important to create a site that people can find easily.
An SEO will make sure that you can get there, and will help you avoid some obvious and painful mistakes that can be committed during the development process.
If you’re convinced that your website is important, then I recommend you make it as good as possible. That requires thinking deep, planning hard, hiring right, and sparing no expense.
The efforts are not easy, but they will be rewarded.
What marketing features do you consider to be important as you plan your website?
This article was written by Neil Patel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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