Websites are a vital piece of any marketing strategy, but most entrepreneurs struggle with how to get started creating theirs. To help you get started we’ve created this handy checklist to guide you through the process.

Do your homework: this is the step that most people will skip, but it makes all the difference! Here are some homework “assignments” to get started with:

  • Check out the websites of your competitors. What are they doing? What’s working for them? Take notes.
  • Begin gathering visual content for your own site. You will need professional photos of yourself, your team, and your service or product in action (without these ready to go, you will be tempted to use stock photos, which we discourage).
  • Collect written content: ask your satisfied clients for testimonials, consider whether or not there is any data that will support your value proposition, begin brainstorming blog content, etc.

Select & purchase a domain name

  • Spend time brainstorming URLs (website address names) that are a good fit for your business. These URLs should be short, descriptive, and without characters (we also recommend sticking with .com if at all possible).
  • Once you have settled on your first, second, and third choices it’s time to shop around. There are a lot of domain providers out there so make sure to do your due diligence and find a reputable provider.

Choose between a Platform and a Web Developer: This is the most significant decision you will make in regards to your website. If you can afford to hire a developer (this can range from $500-$5,000 or more depending on a variety of factors) than I would highly recommend doing so. It’s always a good choice to utilize the help of a professional and it might save you a lot of headache in the long run if you go with a talented, reputable developer. Below are some tips:

  • Platform: Weebly, Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace are all major players with a proven track record. Most of them have free trials, so it’s worth playing around and seeing which one is the best fit for your needs.
  • Developer: if you decide to hire a developer you should ask to see a portfolio and testimonials while also critically reviewing any required contracts.

Google analytics/SEO plugins: This is an easy step, but one that is commonly missed. Once you have a website, you’ll want to make sure you are using Google analytics (for traffic data) and an SEO (search engine optimization) plugin like Yoast. If you have questions about either of these, just reach out to us!

Get listed online: Now that you have a website to link to, it’s important that you make sure your business is listed with online search directories. Some of the big ones are: Google (utilizing the Get Your Business Online program), Axciom, and Bing. You can check your listings anytime at getlisted.org.

Work, work, & re-work your site: Your website is not a static marketing piece. It is something that should be updated frequently, especially in the first year that it’s live.

  • Ask your friends, family, coworkers, etc. to explore your site. Supply them with questions to answer such as: “Could you easily find what you were looking for?” “Did it load quickly?” “How did it work on your mobile devices?”
  • Continually compare your site to that of your competitors to make sure you are on par with theirs.

Get a website analysis: One of our no-cost services is an in-depth website analysis. Our market research team is happy to go through your site and create a written report that outlines what you are doing well, what you are missing, and what needs improvement.

It might be overwhelming at first but a website can work wonders for your business when well-executed, and you’re not alone! We are available to discuss your website with you at any time. You can reach out to your business advisor or email our market research staff at mrc@uwyo.edu.

Audrey Jansen is a market researcher with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Marketing Communications from the University of Wyoming. She has experience in social media, digital marketing, print ad design, and general marketing and small business topics and serves as the Chief of Marketing for ENGAGE (a statewide economic diversification initiative). As the daughter of a serial entrepreneur, Audrey loves being a part of helping small businesses around the state succeed.

When she’s not in the office:

Audrey cannot get enough of the snowy range and homemade food, and she walks her dog a lot.

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