The ultimate 2020 website build checklist
Not sure how to build a website? This guide will help
So you have an amazing business idea but when it comes to building a website for it you're completely confused.
What type of platform do you need? How do you optimise your design for conversions? How do you write website copy?
In this post we'll take you by the hand and meticulously guide you through all of the necessary steps to building a sensational website your customers will love.
We'll show you how to get a logo done, how to build the website, how to design the website, how to write web copy and even how to set up a customer acquisition engine.
You might want to bookmark this page, it will be your source of truth whenever you feel the flame of new inspiration ignite within you.
Before building your website
Before you rush in and start navigating the design controls, it's important to take a step back and make sure all of the important prerequisites are met.
Lets run through them.
1. Polish up your logo and branding
You might already have your logo and branding complete, but are you really happy with it? Does it accurately reflect the passion of your business?
If you answered no, you should consider revamping your personal branding. But don't worry, it's a simple process and we'll walk you through it.
The first thing you'll need to create is your business logo. A great business logo represents the unique character of a business and it's specific solutions. It should be clean but memorable, distinct but not too ostentatious.
If you need inspiration, take a look at these completed logo designs.
If you want to flesh out a design concept, a great wait to do it is by submitting a contest on Freelancer.com
Simply outline your design brief and you will receive logo designs from some of the most talented designers from all around the world.
Your brand identity is more than just your logo, it's the complete graphical representation of your business. This includes your logo, your color scheme, your topography and even the overall attitude of your business.
2. Meet all of your legal requirements
While you're reevaluating your business's image, It's a good idea to make sure all of your legal obligations have been met.
This includes making sure your business is registered, your name is trademarked and that you've chosen the most secure business structure for your operations.
3. Update your business stationary
With your business branding makeover complete, you should proudly display it on a new batch of freshly printed business cards.
But don't just stop at business cards, you should market yourself on as many different physical products as possible, letterheads, shirts, flyers pens etc.
This classical tactic is still highly impactful. Never underestimate the potential of a lead digging through their bag one day and noticing a beautifully branded pen with your company logo.
4. Register and set up all social media channels
You need to preemptively set up all of the platforms you will be using to market your business. If you've already done this, you should still go over them to make sure they're setup correctly.
Here are some fascinating stats that will help you appreciate the immense potential of social marketing:
Facebook has more than 2.3 billion active users.
Twitter has 126 million active users daily.
Instagram has 1 billion active users
Linkedin has 590 million users and it's still growing
If you can successfully leverage these channels to market your brand, your business will prosper for many years to come.
5. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While we're on the subject of marketing, it's important to discuss one of the most effective strategies for getting traffic to your website, SEO.
SEO is a methodology of writing website content in a manner that is most accommodating to Google's search algorithm. When you understand the SEO process you can strategically target specific keywords in your content you want to rank for.
There are two primary objectives of an SEO optimization process:
Strategic placement of keywords.
You should place your target keywords in the following sections of your webpage:
The title tag (the title that is displayed in google).
Your H2 tag (the title on your web page).
In 2 or 3 of your H3 tags (the sub headings in the body of your text).
Naturally throughout the body of your content
Create content that meets specific user intent.
The Google algorithm has evolved dramatically over the last few years. Now content that best meets searcher intent is favoured over content that's just stuffed with keywords.
So be intentional with your content and always aim to provide visitors with the best possible answer to their search queries. Use your primary keywords and related keywords as a framework for your content creation.
You cannot create compelling web content without using images and video, they give visitors a great experience, which gives your website extra SEO points.
6. Register a domain name and setup web hosting
In order to build your website you need to set up a foundation to build upon. If you've never built a website before and your completely confused by all the jargon, here is a bite sized masterclass for you:
Web hosting is the space you rent to house your website on the internet.
Think of a website host as a giant bookshelf, and each individual shelf as the individual location of the websites that host supports. Each shelf has a unique location (or IP address).
The reason why you need a shelf is because you need room to store all of your website data (pictures, files etc).
Some web hosts let you share your space with other websites. (think of multiple websites on the one shelf all sharing the same space to store data). This is not ideal and is, in fact, a major security risk because you don't want any of your storage shared with any questionable characters.
These shared IP solutions are easy to identify because they are usually dirt cheap. When choosing a web host you should always ensure that you're choosing a dedicated IP option (so you get an IP address all to yourself).
Your domain name is your website address, or the name of your website.
7. Set up business email accounts
If you want to impress your customers, you cannot use a gmail email address. You need a professional email address that reflects your website address.
With your domain name already registered this is an easy process. Simply sign up to a G Suite package, choose your prefered email address, verify your domain and you're done!
8. Set up an email marketing platform
You need to set up an efficient engine in the backend that will squeeze maximum potential out of every lead that comes your way, this is best done with email marketing.
Email marketing is a fantastic customer acquisition strategy if it's executed intelligently.
9. Set up a CRM platform
There is nothing more embarrassing than forgetting a customer's name, or failing to follow up on an important customer apointment.
Having a CRM system in place will prevent these blunders from ever happening. Great CRM software will store all of your contacts, and also remind you of any important lead interactions.
10. Apply and configure your payment gateway
If you'll be accepting payments from customers on your website, you need to set up a safe payment gateway. Failing to implement a safe payment gateway could result in a devastating lawsuit.
11. Setting up online accounting software
To ensure you stay compliant and stress free every tax season, you should set yourself up with online accounting software and integrate it with your website.
This integration will save you from a lot of messy financial admin by automatically feeding all purchase information from your website, to your accounting software.
12. Write up your terms and conditions
Clever entrepreneurs do their best to mitigate the chances of problems occuring.
Writing up your terms and conditions and privacy policies as early as possible will prevent any costly customer disputes.
13. Design a customer acquisition funnel
If you don't have a tangible plan for converting all of your website visitors into customers, you're setting yourself up for failure.
A visitor conversion is not always a sale, it could be an email subscription or any other end goal you most desire.
Building your website
Now that you've got all of the prerequisites complete, it's time to start building your website!
Let's walk through all of the steps.
1. Design your wireframe and wireflow
When drafting your website design, there is a certain framework you need to follow. This will ensure everyone you collaborate with understands what features you want and where you want them.
This is also known as 'wireframing.'
But before you start unravelling your wire spool, you should determine how many pages need on your website, and how they will all relate to each other, also known as your 'sitemap'.
Here is an example of both a sitemap and the common set of pages on a business services website:
Now you will need to create wireframes for each of these pages and indicate the user journey through a wireflow.
Here is an example of a wireframe design:
And here is an example of a wireflow design, which is a representation of how users will interact with these pages.
2. Choose a website platform
A website platform is the environment you'll be using to build your website. Some platforms are drag and drop designers, which are great options for complete beginners. Others are more robust and capable of building wonderfully complex websites
If after reading the above material you feel a little overwhelmed with the technical aspects of building a website, consider hiring a professional web developer to help you.
3. Set up and configure chatbots
As a busy entrepreneur, you have very little time to interact with customers, luckily you can now get robots to speak to customers for you!
Welcome to the wonderful word of chatbots.
Chatbots can answer common customer queries and even set important follow up appointments in your calendar.
Once you've set them up on your website, you won't know how you lived without them.
4. Set up and configure SSL certificate
You absolutely must have an SSL certificate active on your website in order to keep all of the data you collect (contact forms and payment details) secure.
If you don't have an SSL certificate, visitors will see a "not secure" message in the URL and bounce off your website.
5. Set up website back ups and a firewall
While we're on the topic of security, you need to make sure your website is well armed against malicious attacks. This includes setting up a firewall and also a back up solution in case you need to recall all of your website data.
6. Optimize images and other media files
Your website needs to load at a lightning fast speed. If it's too slow, Google will push you down the ranks for providing a bad user experience.
Large pictures and videos are usually to blame for slow website speeds. So you need to make sure they're all compressed.
7. Install and configure analytics
If you're aware of how visitors interact with your website you can adjust your marketing efforts to be as effective as possible.
This is a very powerful ability to have so it's important that you set yourself up with the right tracking software.
8. Technical SEO adjustments
SEO is more than just strategic content creation, there are various technical aspects to it to such as minification, removing unused website plugins etc. Many of these tweaks are simple wins that may dramatically boost your website rankings.
9. Configure uptime monitoring
If your website ever goes down, you'll lose all of your traffic and customer revenue. You, therefore need to set up a means of being notified if your website does go offline so that you can take immediate action.
10. Test your website on mobile and tablet devices
Your website investment is completely nullified if your website looks terrible on mobile and tablet devices. To prevent this from happening, your website should be designed to be mobile responsive from day 1.
11. Ensure your website is accessible to all users
You cannot assume that everyone visiting your website will have the same abilities, in fact, it's now almost illegal to assume so.
You need to, therefore, insure that you website is accomodating to people with disabilities.
12. Test all your links, forms and payments gateways
A positive user experience goes beyond just having a pretty website, your website needs to actually work. To prevent user frustration, and the resulting SEO penalty, make sure every function on your website operates flawlessly.
Some amazing website plugins have been developed to help you with quality control.
13. Make sure all of your website software is licensed and legal
Choosing a secure business structure will keep all of your assets safe from a failed lawsuit, but that doesn't mean you can afford to be reckless in your operations. Using illegal software or unlicensed software is a sure way to get your business wiped off the map.
14. Make sure all of your website has a clear return, refund and shipping policies
If you don't have these policies in place, anyone with ill intent could take devastating advantage of your loopholes.
Writing these policies is not that hard, and usually you don't need to touch them again after they're completed.
15. Make sure all of your videos and photos are licensed
You can't just take images and videos from Google and stick them onto your website, you need to hold an appropriate license for all of your media.
Some images are free and under a creative commons license, which might require author attribution. Other images require a specific license to be purchased.
16. Social login for your website
A social login gives visitors the luxury of logging onto a new website using their social credentials (Google, Facebook or Apple). Social logins are great because they free visitors from having to complete an arduous sign up process.
17. Set up a staging site
After your website is built you will most likely need to tinker with it at some point to modify the design or add a new features.
To prevent any issues from distributing the availability of your website, you should always perform these modifications in a staging environment. Then, when you've confirmed everything is working, you can push the staging site live.
After building your website
Now that you're website is finally built you can just sit back and enjoy a nice break from your hard work.
There are a few more things you need to tick off before you dip your toes into that soothing foot spa.
Let's go over them:
1. Remove unnecessary users
If you have been working with web developers or content creators, you would have likely given them access to your website.
When your website is built, it's a good idea to remove any users you no longer require.
2. Use strong passwords
You may have been in a hurry when you initially signed up to your web platform, and as a result, settled for a simple password.
Most website breaches occur from weak credentials, so you need to scrutinize all of your passwords and modify them so that they are hard to crack.
3. Enabling 2FA
Having a strong password will make life for hackers difficult, but not impossible. To further complicate any malicious efforts, you should enable two-factor authentication.
4. Installing web analytics
Successful entrepreneurs always back up their decisions with data. Without any analytics, you won't know whether you are taking the most profitable course of action.
5. Email marketing
When visitors sign up to your newsletter, an automated email sequence should be instantly initiated. If you don't have this in place, you'll miss out on alot of potential customers.
6. Content marketing strategy
Your email market efforts are just a single puzzle piece of your entire content marketing picture. You need to write consistent blogs, press releases, articles etc.
A solid content marketing plan is also be the framework of a successful SEO strategy.
Make sure you also include plenty of video content. They are super engaging and incentify social sharing.
7. Content promotion - Influencer marketing
The final station of your content production pipeline is content promotion. If nobody sees your content, there's no point in creating it.
One of the most effective methods of promoting your content is using influencers.
8. Content promotion - Paid marketing
Give your freshly created content a gentle push in the right direction with paid marketing.
Paid marketing gives your content instant exposure to your designated audience, and if you create content that's relevant and highly beneficia, it will initiate a chain reaction of sharing.
9. Social media monitoring
With your content continuously being published on social media you can gather a lot of data that will help you gauge the effectiveness of all of your efforts.
10. Install heatmap software
Knowing how your visitors behave on your website is highly potent information. It helps you understand whether your website design is beneficial or detrimental to the user experience, and it also helps you optimize your design to maximize conversions.
You can install a heat map on your website which will show you where all of your users are clicking, how far they scroll down the page and more.
11. Sending out a press release
Press releases have always been the most powerful marketing engines. By sending newsworthy stories to the right press, you could initiate a tsunami of high paying clients.
But the trick is to write a press release journalists will actually read.
12. Offsite SEO
SEO is a complicated beast, the process occurs both on your website and off your webste. Offsite SEO involved building a healthy back link profile to drive customers to your website. Backlinks are primary ranking metric so you cannot overlook them.
13. SEO progress tracking
Some fantastic SEO solutions have been developed to help you track your SEO efforts. They allow you to monitor the ranking of all of your web pages. You can also monitor the progress of your competitors and track whether or not you're overtaking them.
14. Website speed monitoring
With every new piece of content your post on your website, you should analyze its load speed. It's easy to forget to compress your images, and site speed software will indicate whether you have overlooked any media files.
Website speed software also highlights any technical reasons behind slow loading pages.
15. Dedicated mobile app
With your website now fully built and set up, you should seriously consider building a mobile app for your business.
Mobile apps allow you to send notifications directly to users, which is a great method to instantly market your business solutions.
The trick to building a successful mobile app is designing something that's highly valuable to your users. It's tricky but very much possible.