I love digital marketing, I have blogged for years and I have used a huge array of CMS's working on clients websites. This experience gave me the ability to build my own website using popular CMS's. However, I chose to build my own website not because I could but because I should.
It is my belief that in order to practice marketing you need to have a first hand knowledge of it, not simply learned it from a blog post or video. It is so easy, particularly when you are working on a big brand, with a big IT department, to let someone else do it. But I firmly believe that the devil is in the detail and by planning and building my own website and going through that process again, I would fully refresh that detail in my mind and allow me once again to talk to clients about their websites with a first person point of view. For me there was six definitive steps to the website build.
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For most businesses the website is the centre of the world when it comes to their marketing strategy, all roads and channels lead to their website. It is a critical part of their marketing strategy, the hub of their business, the place where they convert their customers. I wanted a clean, fast, easy to use website that looked good. I also wanted to a full suite of marketing tools too. So I shopped around and eventually ended up at Wix.
Step 1) Choose which platform you are going to build your website on:
Wix is a great CMS, its easy to use, has loads of templates and includes an email marketing suite in the back end. It also has loads of apps that help with invoicing through to social media apps and analytics. Over all of that, it was really cost effective too with packages starting at £2.55 per month (free if you want to put up with ads on your site, but nobody wants that).
Top three website CMS's:
Step 2) Decide what content you want to display on your website and how it might be structured.
Previously I have worked on website builds that cost hundreds of thousands. The planning process was huge, research was undertaken to understand each and every customer that visited the site, models were made and journeys planned. As I was preparing something much more simple I started on an excel sheet where I wrote down all of the key products that I wanted to promote and I arranged them in a logical plan organising them into categories that would eventually sit under my key products in my navigation. The must have's of a website plan / navigation are a home page, contact us page and then your major products. I organised all of my services under Marketing, Advertising or Digital and of course I added my blog (which you are reading).
Step 3) Pick a template and adapt it for your business.
Once you have your content structured nicely the next stage is to move onto design. This would normally be a process undertaken by website designers or a project manager. The wire-frame stage of a web build is where the pages are sketched and the key content placed there or thereabouts on the page to give you a feel of what a page could look like. When you are using a website builder such as Wix you can start with a much more finished page and use templates. Templates really help to guide you as to where you want to place your content on the page and of course they jump you straight to the design stage of your website build.
Your design, look and feel is completely up to you. But think about what your customers are expecting to see and what you have to display on those pages. Some businesses such as a photographer will require an image heavy template to show off their work. A financial company may have much less imagery and require a well structured but text dominated design. Personally I like clean, fresh designs. White backgrounds make copy really clear and easy to read and I added personality with sketched, bright images to achieve a modern look and feel.
Tip: Make sure your pages are uniform throughout. They should all follow the same look and feel, key buttons shouldn't change position page to page. Once a customers has navigated one page they should understand exactly how to use every page in the website. Also, keep call to action buttons the same colour. Write clearly and concisely and don't ramble.
Step 4) Create content
Next came the content and yes, this did take sometime. My website is currently 35 pages or so in size, the copy took perhaps a week to write. Whilst writing the content I also filled in the meta data and amended the URL's. Actioning basic SEO at this stage helped to focus the page content on the subject that I was discussing (and saved time later on).
Step 5) Add Analytics and goals
When I was happy with the design, look and feel and had completed my copy the next stage was to make sure that all of my forms were working and add Google Analytics to the website (including creating thank you pages so that I could track incoming leads in Google analytics). It really helps to check your copy as you go, but also to get a second pair of eyes to proof the website too. Errors and typos can really detract from a good looking design and put customers off.
Step 6) Thoroughly proof and publish your website
Make sure that you thoroughly proof your website again, this includes reviewing the website on both desktop and mobile. Then you can publish. Once published I moved on to the promotion of the website, but that will have to be another post for another day.
Paul Lymer is a Freelance Marketing Consultant and Founding Director at Improve Marketing.
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